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SoCon Basketball: Power Rankings and Thursday recap

Furman’s win over Samford highlights Thursday night’s SoCon action.

NCAA Basketball: Furman at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Four games highlighted the Southern Conference basketball slate Thursday night.

The biggest taking place in Birmingham, as a pair of SoCon unbeatens - Furman and Samford - faced off against one another.

Furman 83, Samford 73

Kris Acox posted 19 points and registered 12 rebounds, as Furman went on the road and posted a huge, 83-73, win.

The win meant the Paladins soared to the top of the SoCon standings, improving to 10-6 (3-0).

Acox connected on 9-of-15 shots from the field, and recorded his fourth double-double of the season.

Furman trailed 62-57 with 7:27 left after a Demetrius Denzel-Dyson layup, however, the Paladins responded with a 14-0 to take command of the game, which included eight points by junior guard John Davis III. His jumper in the lane allowed the Paladins to take a 71-62 lead with 2:45 left. Davis’ biggest shot of the game came just moments earlier, as his triple from 27-feet out gave the Paladins a 69-62 as the shot-clock expired.

Furman had four players in double figures: Devin Sibley (17 pts), Daniel Fowler (14 pts) and Davis (14 pts), in addition to Acox. Samford got 18 points and nine rebounds from sophomore center Wyatt Walker.

With his 17 points, Sibley, a native of Knoxville, Tenn, crossed the 1,000-point barrier for his career. The junior guard became the 41st player in Furman’s rich basketball history to accomplish the feat.

Furman looks for its first 4-0 start to SoCon play since the 1986-87 season when it travels to Chattanooga on Saturday.

Star of the Game:

Both Acox and Davis were stars for the Paladins, with Acox getting the double-double and Davis fueling a crucial late run.

Stat of the Game:

Furman closed the game on a 26-11 run after trailing by five points with 7:27 remaining.

What We Learned:

With five wins already on the road this season, the Paladins have proven they can play on the road. Last season, the Paladins went 14-2 inside the friendly confines of Timmons Arena. They were just 7-38 on the road prior to this season under fourth-year head coach Niko Medved.

Odds and Ends:

Three other SoCon games took place Thursday night, and all three produced double-digit margins.

In Macon, Mercer picked up its first SoCon win by getting a 68-50 victory over VMI. Demetre Rivers posted 11 points, while Ria’n Holland added 10.

The Citadel returned to Charleston hoping for its second big upset win over a SoCon favorite. In the end, the the Bulldogs were no match for East Tennessee State, which posted a 115-71 win.

The Bucs ran out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back. Seven players finished in double figures in what was a well-balanced attack, with reigning SoCon Player of the Week TJ Cromer leading ETSU with 19 points.

Wofford and Chattanooga rounded out the action. The Terriers looked good on the road early, racing to a 22-11 lead in the opening half. However, the Mocs closed the half on a 25-5 run to take a 36-27 lead to the break, and would lead the rest of the way en route to a 77-66 victory.

The Mocs got a game-high 23 points from SoCon Preseason Player of the Year Tre’ McLean, who led four players in double figures. The preseason SoCon favorites improved to 11-4 overall and 2-1 in league play. The Mocs host Furman in a huge SoCon clash Saturday evening.

SOCON POWER RANKINGS:

  1. East Tennessee State (12-3, 2-0 SoCon)
  2. Chattanooga (11-4, 2-1 SoCon)
  3. Furman (10-6, 3-0 SoCon)
  4. Samford (11-5, 2-1 SoCon)
  5. UNCG (11-5, 2-1 SoCon)
  6. Mercer (7-9, 1-2 SoCon)
  7. Wofford (6-10, 1-2 SoCon)
  8. The Citadel (8-9, 1-3 SoCon)
  9. Western Carolina (5-10, 0-2 SoCon)
  10. VMI (3-10, 0-2 SoCon)