CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern returns to the road Thursday at Presbyterian College. Tipoff at the Templeton Center in Clinton, S.C., is slated for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Big South Network. Fans can also listen to the action on csusports.com.
CSU (5-12, 1-5 Big South) is looking to build momentum following a strong week of play. The Bucs led nearly wire-to-wire in a win over Radford and then took first-place UNC Asheville down to the wire in a hard-fought loss.
Presbyterian (4-13, 0-6 Big South) is bidding to snap a seven-game losing streak. The Blue Hose suffered blowout losses at Winthrop and High Point last week.
Strides on the defensive end of the floor may have been the most promising aspect of last week's homestand for CSU. The Bucs limited Radford to 64 points and 37.5 percent shooting in Wednesday's victory, both marking season-bests against Division I competition. The effort continued in the first 20 minutes against a red-hot Asheville team, as Barclay Radebaugh's squad built an eight-point halftime lead by limiting the Bulldogs to less than 35 percent shooting.
Radebaugh is hopeful CSU will continue its maturation and find a way to win more close games as the second third of the conference schedule begins. The Bucs are the only team in the league thus far to have played all three squads tied for first place in the standings, as well as the top-six overall.
"It's a great learning opportunity," said Radebaugh of the close defeat to Asheville. "I'm so impressed with our improvement. We took a big step forward with a young, inexperienced team and I'm really proud of our guys and our effort. There's a lot to learn from this tape and we know we'll have more opportunities to grow in those situations."
CSU will hope to continue its defensive progress against a Presbyterian team that has struggled offensively. The Blue Hose currently rank last in the Big South in scoring offense and ninth in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. Jo'Vonate Millner, a freshman forward, is PC's leading scorer at 11.8 points per game.
Thursday's matchup does pit two of the better offensive rebounding teams in the league, with CSU ranking third and PC fourth. The Bucs' Javis Howard continues to pace the circuit in offensive boards, while Ed Drew (4th) and Millner (7th) are both among the top-ten.
CSU has won ten straight games against PC, including five consecutive season sweeps. The last Blue Hose win in the series came in February of 2011.
Keeling tabbed Big South Freshman of Week again
Christian Keeling was named the Come Ready Nutrition Big South Freshman of the Week for the third time this season on Monday. Keeling continued a sensational rookie year by averaging 26 points and five rebounds per game while shooting nearly 53 percent from the floor. The Augusta, Ga., product was 5-of-11 from three-point range and hit all 11 of his free throw attempts in CSU's two games. Keeling also earned Freshman of the Week honors on Dec. 19 and Nov. 28. Keeling tallied a career-high 33 points to power CSU over first-place Radford on Wednesday. He added six rebounds as the Bucs picked up their first conference victory. Against UNC Asheville on Saturday, Keeling posted a team-high 19 points to help CSU lead for the game's first 27 minutes.
Keeling first Buc to net 30 since Nimley
Keeling tallied 33 points against Radford, becoming the first Buc to score 30 since Saah Nimley did so against High Point on Feb. 28, 2015. Nimley went over the 30-point plateau a remarkable seven times in the final 14 games of CSU's run to the Big South regular season title. Keeling has three 20-point games and ten efforts of 15 or more.
CSU has dominated recent series with PC
Six of CSU's ten consecutive wins over PC have come by double digit final margins. The biggest triumphs in that run both came in the 2013-14 season, with the Bucs posting 37 and 39-point wins a month apart. Last year, CSU had to gut out a 73-72 win at Presbyterian in January, with two late Armel Potter free throws providing the difference. The Bucs cruised to a 77-63 home win three weeks later behind Potter's then career-high of 27 points.