CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern wraps up the first half of its Big South Conference schedule Thursday at High Point. Tipoff at the Millis Center in High Point, N.C., is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Big South Network.
The matchup pits two clubs playing their best basketball of the season. CSU (7-12, 3-5 Big South) snapped a seven-game losing streak with a pair of convincing wins over Presbyterian and Longwood last week. The Bucs never trailed in either game. High Point (10-10, 4-4 Big South) has rebounded from a four-game losing streak with three consecutive victories. The Panthers followed a blowout of Presbyterian with close road triumphs over Campbell and Radford last week.
The Bucs and Panthers are two of six teams that currently sit just a game apart in the league standings. Winthrop is alone atop the conference at 7-1, with UNC Asheville and Liberty trailing a game behind. The top six teams at regular season's end receive a bye into the quarterfinal round of the Big South Championship.
Thursday's game also features the reigning Big South Player of the Week honorees. CSU's Christian Keeling was named Freshman of the Week after averaging 26 points and eight rebounds per game. It was the fourth such recognition for Keeling, who paces all league freshmen in scoring and rebounding. High Point's Miles Bowman, Jr. was named Player of the Week after posting back-to-back double-doubles, including a monster 24-point, 11-rebound effort in Saturday's win at Radford. Bowman, Jr. is tied for the league-lead with nine double-doubles, and is second in rebounding at nine per game.
Controlling the glass could be pivotal if CSU is to pick up its first win at High Point since December of 2008. The Panthers out-rebounded Radford, the league's top rebounding team, by 11 and grabbed 16 offensive boards Saturday. High Point ranks third in the Big South in rebounding and fourth in offensive boards, while CSU is fourth and third, respectively, in those categories.
Bowman, Jr. leads High Point in scoring at 12.9 PPG, with guards Andre Fox and Anthony Lindauer also averaging in double figures. The matchup between CSU's Javis Howard and Bowman, Jr. could also be important. Howard comes off a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds against Longwood. He is averaging 11 points and 7.3 rebounds in Big South play, and has scored in double figures five games in a row.
Defense trending in right direction
CSU's best three defensive performances of the season (in terms of field goal percentage defense) have come in its three Big South wins. The Bucs limited Presbyterian to 52 points and 32 percent shooting last Thursday. They followed up with another stingy showing against a Longwood team that was shooting 49 percent in league play entering Saturday's contest. The Lancers were held to 40 percent shooting overall, including just a 36 percent clip in the first half.
Keeling tabbed Freshman of Week yet again
Christian Keeling was named Big South Freshman of the Week for the fourth time on Monday. It marked the second straight week he received the honor. Keeling averaged 26 points and eight rebounds per game to spearhead the Bucs' cause. He tallied 24 points and a career-high 11 rebounds to record his second double-double of the season against Presbyterian. Keeling followed with 19 of his 28 points in the second half to lead CSU past Longwood.
Keeling riding hot streak
Keeling has notched 20-point games in three of his last four outings, and five times overall. He is averaging 26 points per game on 49 percent shooting over his last four games. Keeling is also 23-for-25 (92%) at the free-throw line and averaging 6.5 rebounds per game over that stretch.
Potter excelling in role of distributor
Armel Potter currently leads the Big South with a 1.78 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has bumped that ratio up to 2.29 (32A-14TO) through eight league games. Potter has been particularly good over the last four games in that department, handing out 17 assists against just five turnovers.
Howard emerging as force in Big South play
Javis Howard is averaging 11 points and 7.3 rebounds per game since Big South play began. He has scored in double figures in five straight games. Howard notched his second double-double of the campaign, with 12 points and 11 rebounds, in the win over Longwood.