CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern goes after its second straight win on Saturday against Longwood. Tipoff at the Buc Dome is set for 5:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Big South Network.
CSU (6-12, 2-5 Big South) posted a thorough 73-52 win at Presbyterian on Thursday. The Bucs bolted out to an 11-0 lead, led by 15 points at halftime and by as many as 29 in the second half to blow out the Blue Hose on the road. Christian Keeling again led the way with 24 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, while CSU's defense held PC to 32 percent shooting.
Longwood (6-12, 3-4 Big South) surged to a surprising 3-0 start in Big South play but has since dropped four in a row. The Lancers fell to Radford, 72-60, at home on Thursday. Wins over Campbell, High Point and Presbyterian to open the league slate have been followed by losses to Winthrop, UNC Asheville, Gardner-Webb and Radford, with three of the four coming by double figures.
CSU will be looking to avenge three consecutive losses to Longwood, two of which came in the Big South Championship. The top-seeded Bucs were upset by the Lancers in 2015, and lost a 12-point first half lead in last year's opening round. Longwood also bested CSU, 78-76, last February at the Buc Dome in double overtime.
Offensive execution was outstanding for CSU in much of Thursday's win over Presbyterian. The Bucs assisted 13 of their first 21 field goals en route to forging a 58-29 advantage by the 12:18 mark of the second half. CSU will look for more of the same Saturday against a Longwood team that has struggled defensively and on the glass. The Lancers are currently last in the conference in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin.
Longwood does sport an explosive scoring trio that will challenge CSU to continue its defensive progress. Lane, an athletic 6-6 forward, leads that group with averages of 16.3 PPG and 7.6 RPG. Both of those marks are fourth best in the league. Guards Darrion Allen (9th) and Isaiah Walton (10th) also rank among league leaders in scoring.
Defense trending in right direction
CSU has posted its two best defensive outings of the year over the last two weeks. The Bucs held Radford to 64 points and 37.5 percent shooting last week and followed up with an even stingier effort against Presbyterian. The Blue Hose started just 8-for-35 from the field as the Bucs cruised to their 11th straight win in the series. In between, CSU also posted an excellent first half against a good UNC Asheville team. The Bucs limited the Bulldogs to less than 35 percent shooting to take an eight-point halftime lead in that contest.
Keeling continues to score at high level
Christian Keeling posted his fourth 20-point effort of the season in the win at Presbyterian. He is averaging 25.3 PPG 53 percent shooting over his last three outings. Keeling is also averaging seven rebounds per game over that time. Last Monday, he was named Big South Freshman of the Week for the third time. Keeling leads all league freshmen in rebounding and is second in scoring and field goal percentage.
Potter running the show with aplomb
Armel Potter currently leads the Big South in assist-to-turnover ratio. Potter has been particularly adept at taking care of the ball in league play, compiling a better than two-to-one mark (28A-13TO). He handed out a career-high seven assists, to go with 11 points and seven rebounds, in last week's win over Radford.
Young Bucs learning on the fly
CSU welcomed seven new players to its program this year, and five are seeing significant playing time. Christian Keeling and Cortez Mitchell are doing so in a starting role, while Jordan Jones, Jamar Martin and Jamal Thomas are all proving to be factors off the bench. Antwan Maxwell, who redshirted last year, has also found a spot in the rotation. Junior Javis Howard is the Bucs' veteran. Zach Durkee and Rae Robinson are in their third seasons as well but both redshirted in the 2014-15, helping CSU claim the Big South regular season title from the scout team.