About the only thing one can really say in a negative light about Saturday’s Furman-Winthrop game is that no fans were allowed in the arena. The battle of two top-five mid-majors got its story told by me earlier today, but there’s much more for us to cover. Join with me, kids, as we go Inside the Numbers.

  • When these teams met last season, Furman had a hot first half. The Paladins led the Eagles, 46-33, at the horn, with now-graduated Jordan Lyons doing a lot of the heavy lifting for his club. Winthrop turned the tables this year, scoring 56 in a dominant first half that surprisingly put the Eagles ahead by 20. Winthrop made 65.5 percent (19-for-29) of its first–half tries and canned 11-of-13 from the charity stripe. Its first miss from the line came nearly 18 minutes after the jump ball.
  • The Eagles tallied 1.30 PPP in those opening 20 minutes, a number that partnered with Furman’s .857 number to explain much of the proceedings of the half. Furman knocked down just 2-of-14 threes in the half, owing to solid closeouts and high contests from Winthrop’s ravenous perimeter defense. This allowed Winthrop to successfully get out in transition, as evidenced by their 11-of-16 (per game stats) on layups and 4-of-5 on dunks.
  • Fouls plagued the Paladins early, with star forward Noah Gurley tallying two whistles before the first media stoppage. Forward Clay Mounce, who had 17 with nine boards and seven dimes in last year’s battle in Greenville, never marked on the night, and ended up fouling out just past the midway point of the second half. Two Paladins (Gurley and Mounce) were disqualified as part of the 26 fouls called on the purple-clad visitors.
  • First-team All-Conference guard Chandler Vaudrin had another solid game for his club, snaring eight boards and handing out seven helpers to accompany his seven points. Vaudrin’s coach has not been shy about showing his love for the redshirt senior star, and today was no exception. Eagles coach Pat Kelsey referred to Vaudrin as an “elite” point guard, and he neared yet another triple-double. Vaudrin is the active leader in triple-doubles, with six.
  • Winthrop radio voice Dave Friedman remarked that the fans would have been “going crazy” in the Winthrop Coliseum, had they been allowed to enter. Kelsey, whose young family is almost always nearby, spoke after the game about the impact the empty arenas are having on this season.

“That’s hard. That’s really, really hard. My son lives for that (being able to attend games). He can’t see his dad play right now. None of these kids’ families can see them play right now, and that’s really difficult. We spend so much time away from our families, and this is such a demanding profession. That’s one thing you can count on that you can share with them, is that experience.”

  • Furman guard Mike Bothwell, who has taken up much of the scoring helm from Lyons, led the Paladins with 16 points Saturday. He had to work like crazy for those points, though, going 4-for-16 from the floor (0-for-7 from distance) and 8-for-11 from the stripe. He also fouled out of the game while trying to contain Winthrop’s arsenal of guards.
  • Winthrop’s bench scored 46 points, the third contest in a row in which it has tallied 46 points or greater. 34 of those 46 points came from reserves Russell Jones, Jamal King, and Adonis Arms. Forward Chase Claxton added eight. To that end, there was a point late in the first half where the Eagles’ bench could make this claim:
  • Furman forward Garrett Hein turned in an outstanding effort in relief of Mounce early. Hein dropped all fixe shots he attempted, finishing with 12 points. His four rebounds were also quite the help.
  • Interestingly, Furman last year defeated the top teams in the Big South in non-league play, providing what Furman forward Clay Mounce felt was a solid challenge as the Paladins prepared for a grueling SoCon slate.

“The Big South is a good test for us, especially the top half of it,” said Mounce after last year’s game against Winthrop. “Really, what it all comes down to is just our defense, our connection on defense, and feeding off emotion and energy. Once we get a run started, (we need to) keep it going. If they get one going, cut it off as soon as you can.”

Winthrop has now knocked off SoCon co-favorites Furman and UNCG this season, and will now get an 11-day respite before Campbell visits to start Big South play. Just one game — Monday night against SC State — separates Furman from its Dec. 30 SoCon opener at Chattanooga.

The big takeaway: Both of these teams should be playing for — and quite possibly hoisting — conference hardware. The SoCon is loaded from top to bottom, as Kelsey told us after Saturday night’s game, and the Big South is always a brawl.

And finally, the Hustle Stats:

  • Points in the paint:  Winthrop 38, Furman 26
  • Points off turnovers:  Furman 18, Winthrop 18
  • Second-chance points:  Furman 7, Winthrop 2
    • Neither team grabbed 10 pffensive rebounds (Furman 9, Winthrop 5)
  • Fast-break points:  Winthrop 9, Furman 2


FURMAN (5-3): Bothwell 4-16 8-11 16, Gurley 3-7 6-8 14, Hunter 4-10 1-2 12, Slawson 2-4 4-6 8, Mounce 0-6 0-0 0, Kenney 0-1 0-0 0, Foster 3-4 2-2 9, Lawrence 0-1 0-0 0, Hien 5-5 2-5 12, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-55 23-34 71.

WINTHROP (5-0): Anumba 3-7 3-4 9, Falden 7-12 2-2 18, Zunic 1-1 0-0 3, Burns 2-4 0-0 4, Vaudrin 3-4 1-4 7, Jones 4-5 2-5 12, Talford 1-2 2-4 4, King 4-7 1-2 11, Arms 3-9 4-4 11, Corbin 0-2 0-0 0, Claxton 2-3 4-4 8. Totals 30-56 19-29 87.

Halftime — Winthrop 56-36. 3-Point Goals—Winthrop 8-20 (Anumba 0-4, Falden 2-5, Zunic 1-1, Jones 2-2, King 2-4, Arms 1-2, Corbin 0-2, Furman 6-28 (Bothwell 0-7, Gurley 2-4, Hunter 3-7, Slawson 0-2, Mounce 0-3, Kenney 0-1, Foster 1-2, Lawrence 0-1, Anderson 0-1). Fouled Out — NA. Rebounds — Furman 36 (Bothwell 8)), Winthrop 33 (Vaudrin 8). Assists —Winthrop 18 (Nsoseme/Williams/Toppin 4), Furman 12 (Shepherd 5). Total Fouls — Furman 26, Winthrop 25. Technical — Zunic (WU), Jones (WU), Hien (FU). A —NA.