CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern meets North Florida for the second time in two weeks on Saturday in Jacksonville. Tipoff at UNF Arena is slated for 5 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+. Fans can also listen to coverage on csusports.com.
CSU (4-5) will be looking to avenge a 76-70 loss to UNF (4-7) two weeks ago in Charleston. The Bucs rallied from a nine-point deficit to take a five-point lead with 6:37 left in that game before the Ospreys rattled off a 16-5 run to prevail.
Last time out, CSU delivered an encouraging performance at undefeated and No. 23 Furman, pushing the Paladins throughout before falling, 77-69. UNF, which has already made trips to Dayton, Penn State, Southern Miss, Florida and Minnesota, will be playing its third game in five days. The Ospreys tested the Gophers on Tuesday in a 90-81 loss, and fell at Florida International in a 102-89 shootout on Thursday.
The first meeting between the Bucs and Ospreys featured fast-paced action, with eight ties and seven lead changes. Garrett Sams led UNF with 20 points, while big man Noah Horchler contributed 17, nine rebounds and four blocks. Horchler notched his fifth double-double of the season against FIU and currently ranks 15th nationally in rebounding (10.3 RPG). Christian Keeling paced the Bucs with 20, while freshman Dontrell Shuler pumped in a career-high 16.
Rebounding was key in the first matchup, with UNF recording a 47-35 advantage. CSU forced UNF into 25 turnovers, but it was the Ospreys that posted the edge in points off turnovers. Creating extra possessions figures to be important for CSU, which is second nationally averaging 20.8 forced turnovers per game. UNF coughed it up 18 times against FIU, the national leader in turnovers forced, and enters play among the nation's bottom-50 in turnovers per game and turnover margin.
Valiant effort at Furman
CSU made Furman work to extend its unbeaten streak, battling the Paladins to a nip-and-tuck affair for most of the night. A 14-4 Furman run proved decisive, though, as the Paladins stretched their lead from three points to 13 at the 5:53 mark. CSU came no closer than seven the rest of the way. Underclassmen Duncan LeXander and Deontaye Buskey helped lead the Bucs with 13 points apiece. Both connected on three three-pointers, while Christian Keeling hit two en route to a double-double of 12 points and ten rebounds.
LeXander leading Bucs' freshmen class
Duncan LeXander has quickly emerged as one of the Big South's top freshmen. LeXander is CSU's leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, and ranks among league leaders in offensive rebounds (3rd), rebounding (7th) and threes made (7th). He has scored in double figures in five straight games, and is averaging 13.8 points and 6.8 rebounds over that time. LeXander is also shooting 51 percent overall and 62.5 percent (15-24) from downtown during that span.
Shuler starting with a splash
Many of CSU's returners singled out Dontrell Shuler as a newcomer poised to make an impact during the preseason, and he is thus far living up to that billing. Shuler poured in a career-high 16 points against North Florida to nearly lead the Bucs to a comeback win. He tallied 11 of CSU's 20 first half points at Florida, showing off impressive explosiveness several times. The Irmo product scored 11 more points in just 13 minutes in the win over S.C. State, including seven in the first half to help CSU take control after a slow start.
Buskey much improved offensively
Buskey's 13 points against Furman marked his fifth double-figure scoring effort of the season. He did so just once in 29 games as a freshman. Buskey's three threes against the Paladins give him 13 for the year, which is one more than all of last season. He was 12-for-40 (30%) from downtown last year, but is already 13-for-34 (38%) this year.