John Davis III scored 17 points, which included going an impressive 5-for-6 from beyond the arc, as he led four players in double figures and Furman made easy work of its preseason opener with a 90-57 win over North Greenville Friday night at Timmons Arena.
Davis picked up the scoring load for the Paladins with First-Team All-SoCon guard Stephen Croone sidelined with a minor injury, but the Paladins barely skipped a beat in the 33-point win. Davis was part of an 11-for-33 performance from three-point range, as the Paladins out-scored the Crusaders 33-0 from three-point range in the win.
Joining Davis in double figures were forwards Matt Rafferty and Kris Acox, who added 16 and 14 points, respectively, and guard Andrew Brown, who added 14 points and like Rafferty, was playing his first collegiate game. Rafferty, a true freshman from of Hinsdale, Ill, was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and went 4-for-6 from the charity stripe in win. He also added nine boards and four assists in the win.
Acox, who went out early in last year's Southern Conference Tournament title game against Wofford, posted with a foot injury 10 boards to record a double-double. Acox showed no signs of last year's foot injury, as he connected on 6-of-9 shots from the field and was 2-for-5 from the charity stripe. Acox also led the Paladins with two of the team's four blocks in the game.
Brown, a freshman and local product out of Travelers Rest High School, added 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field and 3-for-6 from three-point range in the contest. He also added a pair of assists, a steal and a rebound in 21 minutes of action.
Last year's SoCon Freshman of the Year, Devin Sibley, just missed double figures with nine points, connecting 3-of-8 shots from the field and adding a 3-for-5 mark at the free throw stripe.
The Paladins fell behind on the opening possession of the game for the Crusaders, as Troy
Blyden added a rebound and putback off a missed three-pointer from the top of the key, giving North Greenville the 2-0 lead just 10 seconds into the contest. From there, however, Furman went on a 25-1 run, taking a 25-3 lead with 9:50 to play in the half. The Paladins would parlay that hot start into as sizeable 48-22 halftime edge.
North Greenville would trim six points off the Paladin halftime lead, getting within 20 points, at 50-30, with 16:48 remaining in the contest, however, a 19-6 run by the Paladins would push the lead, which would give the Paladins 69-36 lead with 11:52 remaining in the game.
Senior guard Larry Wideman powered the run, scoring eight-straight points during the run, including a pair of triples. The Paladins would eventually increase their lead to 37 points, at 88-51, with 3:35 remaining following a layup by Brown.
Freshman point guard Jonathan Jean was also impressive in his first collegiate outing, as the Tampla, FL, product dished out a team-leading six assists. All told, the Paladins recorded an impressive 19 helpers in the contest.
For the game, Furman shot the ball at a 50% clip (33-for-66), while limiting North Greenville to 36.4% (20-for-55) on the night. The Paladins posted 30 points on 19 Crusader turnovers, posting a 30-3 advantage in points off turnovers. The Paladins held a 20-0 advantage in that category in the opening half of play. Furman turned it over just 12 times in the game. The Paladins held a narrow 40-38 advantage in rebounds.
"It was a good team effort by our guys tonight," said third-year Paladin head coach Niko Medved, following his team's only preseason exhibition. "We came out and did what we had to do. We really shared the ball and had a very balanced offense tonight. A lot of guys got involved on the offensive end and I thought we played with pretty good pace."
Last year, the Paladins posted a 64-60 win over a North Greenville club in exhibition play. That Crusaders club went on to win 22 games. The lone starter back from that club was Korval McElroy, who led the team with 13 points, while Justin Dotson posted all 11 of his points in the second to round out the double figure scorers for the visitors.
Furman, which was recently picked to finish fifth in the 10-team Southern Conference, will open the much anticipated 2015-16 season in two weeks, hosting former Furman assistant Greg Nibert's Presbyterian Blue Hose on Nov. 13 in a 7 p.m. clash at Timmons Arena.
Special thanks to Furman Sports Information for providing the quote for this article.