Furman 70, Chattanooga 55
Mercer 91, The Citadel 80
Wofford 69, Samford 64
ETSU 86, UNCG 83
Western Carolina 73, VMI 52
Western Carolina 1-1
The Citadel 0-3
Game of the Day: Wofford 69, Samford 64
With 2:34 left, Jamal Shabazz made two free throws for Samford and gave the Bulldogs a 64-55 lead, and I thought, "Wow- Samford is going to pull this off. This day is really changing the SoCon race." After all, Furman had already beaten Chattanooga, and a second unbeaten was about to fall. Little did I know at that point how close ETSU would come to losing to UNCG later on in the day. But right at that moment, Wofford went on a run. The Terriers scored 14 unanswered points over the final 2:12 of the game, including 12 straight by Spencer Collins. Just like that, the reigning champs had re-established themselves, Samford's youth and inexperience was exposed again, and the Terriers went to 3-0 on the young SoCon season. It was one of the more surprising comebacks of the young season.
Team of the Day: Furman Paladins
Chattanooga came in determined to beat the team that beat them in the SoCon quarterfinals a year ago. In the end, the Paladins were celebrating on their home floor a win that announced that they are a contender in the SoCon this season. Their dominating performance over the conference favorite was a televised statement that they are here to stay. They shot 50% from the floor and forced Chattanooga into 20 turnovers. Furman hosts Samford on Monday night in a key game. Teams that are really contenders win games like that one. Monday night will be huge.
Player of the Day: TJ Cromer, ETSU
Cromer scored 20 points, including the game winning three pointer with eight seconds remaining to complete the comeback for the Bucs against UNCG. Cromer also added five rebounds and six assists. He made 6 of 10 from the floor and 3 of 5 from three point range and made 5 of 5 from the free throw line. Cromer was not the team's leading scorer (that honor went to Ge'Lawn Guyn with 28), but his clutch three and contributions elsewhere established him as the Player of the Day.
Disappointment of the Day: Chattanooga at the free throw line.
The Mocs came in shooting nearly 71% from the free throw line. In their loss to Furman, they made less than 50% from the stripe, making just 9 of 19. Combine that with the normally sharp shooting Eric Robertson shooting just 1 of 5 (with the one coming very late) from three point range, and the recipe for the Mocs performance was in place. The Mocs focus and energy was down in this one. Will it return easily? They have to go to Wofford on Monday night in a suddenly critical game for the Mocs chances of winning the regular season title.
--AJ Merriweather is out for the season for ETSU. This is no small loss for the Bucs. They will need to replace him.
--Western Carolina dominated VMI in a huge way. Their game with UNCG will be very important on Monday night.
--Seriously- that Chattanooga-Wofford game on Monday night is massive now. A Mocs loss would put them down two games to the Terriers and mean that the Mocs would be facing a huge uphill climb.
--VMI should be relatively easy win for ETSU. We'll find out a lot on Thursday and Saturday about them, when they head to Samford and Chattanooga. That's when we find out if ETSU is a real title contender or a product of a relatively soft early season schedule.
--UNCG looks like a different team right now. They played well at Wofford and ETSU and beat Furman. It's looking more and more like there are eight teams fighting for those six byes, with only The Citadel and VMI looking like they are not in the running. I would not have thought UNCG belonged in that group just a week ago. Now I think they might.
--It would be wrong not to mention Stephon Jelks and his performance. He scored 24 points with 17 rebounds for Mercer on Saturday. Huge day for Jelks.
--Most underrated two players in the SoCon might be Jordan Strawberry of Mercer and Johnathan Burroughs-Cook of Chattanooga. Both come off the bench, but could start on most other SoCon teams. Strawberry has impressed me for two years and scored 19 points today. Burroughs-Cook can get to the basket as well as almost any Mocs guard. He was the only Moc in double figures today.