CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern heads on a Virginia road swing this weekend, beginning Thursday at Radford. Tipoff at the Dedmon Center is slated for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Big South Network. Fans can also listen to coverage on csusports.com.
CSU's first of two trips to Virginia this month comes with a quick turnaround. The Bucs will take on first-place Liberty less than 48 hours later on Saturday in Lynchburg. First, CSU (8-15, 4-8 Big South) bids for a season sweep of a struggling Radford (9-15, 4-8 Big South) club. The Highlanders have lost seven of their last eight games, a stretch that began with a 70-64 defeat at the Buc Dome on Jan. 11.
Radford entered that contest 3-1 in the league but was stymied as CSU led almost the entire way behind Christian Keeling's career-high 33-point effort. The Bucs enjoyed an advantage as large as 14 points, holding Radford to 37.5 percent shooting while recording a 23-9 edge in points off turnovers.
The Radford victory was the start of a stretch that saw CSU win three of four games, and the Bucs are looking to regain that form as they embark on the final third of their conference schedule. CSU suffered tough losses to Gardner-Webb and UNC Asheville and was not at its best in Saturday's overtime win over Presbyterian. The Bucs did persevere in the latter game, overcoming 33 percent shooting to beat the Blue Hose for the 12th consecutive time.
Keeling and Antwan Maxwell, Jr., a pair of freshmen, were the biggest reason CSU was able to avoid a three-game losing streak. Keeling notched his seventh 20-point showing of the campaign with 22 points, and drilled four clutch free throws in the final 12 seconds of the extra session. Maxwell, meanwhile, drained a go-ahead three-pointer with 33 seconds left to polish off a double-double of 12 points and ten rebounds.
Radford is looking to bounce back from a five-game losing streak, bookended by a pair of three-point losses. The latter came in heartbreaking fashion Saturday at Liberty, as the Flames' A.C. Reid banked in a three at the buzzer. The Highlanders have struggled to score, breaking 70 points just once in their last eight outings. Radford is currently last in the Big South in field goal percentage and turnover margin, and second-to-last in scoring offense.
Holding their own on the glass will be pivotal if CSU is to win at Radford for the fifth time in its last six tries. Radford paces the league in rebounding margin (61st nationally) and offensive rebounds (41st), and bested CSU, 42-29, on the boards in the first matchup. Leading the rebounding cause for Mike Jones' squad is springy forward Ed Polite, Jr., the Big South leader in caroms (9.4 RPG). Polite (10.6 PPG) and Justin Cousin (11.0 PPG) are the only Highlanders averaging in double figures scoring. Cousin is second in the Big South in three-point percentage and third in threes made. He buried five triples as part of a 23-point night last month at CSU.
Keeling named Big South Freshman of Week yet again
Christian Keeling was tabbed the Big South Freshman of the Week for the fifth time on Monday. Keeling averaged 18 points and eight rebounds per game to help CSU to a 1-1 week. He continues to pace all league freshmen in scoring (16.7 PPG – 5th overall) and rebounding (6.5). Keeling had a career-high 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting in CSU's win over Radford on Jan. 11. He was a perfect 8-for-8 at the free-throw line in the victory.
Freshmen power Bucs over PC
Keeling and redshirt freshman Antwan Maxwell, Jr. propelled the Bucs to an overtime win over Presbyterian. Keeling iced the victory with four free throws in the final 12 seconds of the extra session, finishing off a 22-point outing. Maxwell secured a steal and knocked down the game-winning three with 33 seconds remaining. The Savannah, Ga., product posted his first career double-double with a career-high 12 points and ten rebounds. Maxwell's career high in rebounds, 11, was set at Virginia Tech in December.
Test for Howard vs. Polite
The Big South's top offensive rebounder goes against the league's top overall rebounder on Thursday. Javis Howard paces the circuit with 3.3 offensive rebounds per game, while Ed Polite, Jr. leads the conference with 9.4 rebounds per game. Polite went for a double-double of ten points and 11 rebounds, helping Radford to a 42-29 rebounding advantage, in the first meeting between the two clubs. Howard contributed ten points and five boards in that game for CSU.
CSU looking to continue recent success at Radford
CSU has won four of its last five trips to Radford. The Highlanders' only win in that stretch came last January 6, 80-73, on the strength of 14 three-pointers. CSU picked up a crucial victory at Radford during its run to the 2014-15 Big South regular season championship. Saah Nimley scored a career-high 39 points in that game, a triumph that spurred the Bucs onto a five-game winning streak.