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Spartans Beat Bucs In Return Game

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” 


That quote fairly well sums up how the USC Upstate Spartans approached Wednesday night’s game with the Charleston Southern Buccaneers. The last time these 2 teams met on New Year’s Eve, Upstate dropped a 90-85 decision on the road in North Charleston, snapping a 4 game win streak in the series by the Spartans. 


With Upstate in a three way tie with Campbell and Winthrop in the conference standings, it was going to be absolutely crucial to come out confident and get ahead early so they could get a much-needed win in this game. 


Last time out: 


  • USC Upstate upset  Drew Pember and the then-league leader UNC Asheville Bulldogs on Saturday at the Hodge Center 76-70 despite having 20 turnovers. 4 Spartans scored in double figures and Upstate won the rebound battle to help secure the win. 


One thing Dave Dickerson said that he and his staff have harped on since Saturday is not turning the ball over and getting rebounds. His squad seemed to have taken that to heart, as the Spartans came out playing solid defense, disrupting the Bucs’ normally-solid 3 point shooting attack early on and pulling down the defensive boards. Early on, Seny N’Diaye came out with a big blocked shot and pulled down 2 defensive rebounds that helped push the Spartans on to a 5-0 run heading into the first media timeout. Out of the timeout, Charleston Southern managed to cut the game to its closest margin – 1 point via a 7-2 scoring burst before Upstate turned on the afterburners. 


Over the next 5 minutes, USC Upstate held the Buccaneers scoreless, putting together a 13-0 run followed by a 7-2 run out of a timeout that would all but put the game on lock. At the half, the Spartans led 41-23. 


In the 2nd half, Upstate continued to play with the same intensity and continued to execute their game plan nearly flawlessly. The Spartans built up as big of an advantage as 26 at the 7:46 mark of the 2nd stanza, before they went a bit cold, allowing the Bucs to chip away. But, ultimately, it was a big enough cushion to where Dave Dickerson and his squad never felt like the game was in danger of getting out of their control. 


Led by 3 scorers in double figures – Jordan Gainey (20), Justin Bailey (15), and Trae Broadnax (11 with 6 assists), the Spartans went on to win 77-60 to improve to 11-13 overall and 6-7 in the Big South.


“We talked about that right after the Asheville game – the scouting report going into Charleston Southern and we knew that they were playing well. They have probably the best offense in the Big South. They really score the basketball. So the challenge was there to guard without fouling and rebound the basketball. Our game plan was to take away threes and to try and be connected on the defensive end and keep ’em out of the paint.  Against a good offensive team like Charleston Southern, if you can take care of the basketball and have some good possessions  you have a chance against them and that’s what we did tonight”, said Dickerson about what he did differently to prepare his team after the last meeting with Charleston Southern. 


There were many positives and storylines one could glean from Wednesday night’s effort by the Spartans. For one, they did not have to deal with foul trouble. Not a single Upstate player that saw minutes in the game had more than 2 personals called on them, leading to CSU never seeing the bonus in either half. The Spartans had 10 total personals called in this game, leading to just 8 attempts from the stripe for the Buccaneers. 


The Spartans also shored up their turnover problems by a significant margin — just 13 in the game— something Coach Dickerson attributes in part to him and his staff getting one on one with his guys and showing them what they need to do. 


“The things we talked about is not turning the ball over, getting rebounds, getting loose balls, and getting 50/50 balls. We brought Trea Broadnax and Jordan Gainey in on Monday.  Against Asheville,  they had 16 of our 20 turnovers, and so we wanted to talk about playing fast, scoring early and then scoring late. We showed them their turnovers from the Asheville game and they came out tonight and did not turn the ball over much, which was a good thing.”


Another big positive was their success from beyond the arch. In the end, the Spartans went 12 for 27 from distance, but that number was skewed a bit by the cold snap in the final 7 and a half minutes. Jordan Gainey was 50% from three point range on the night (4-8) while Justin Bailey and Floyd Rideau Jr both went 2-5. 


On the glass, Upstate outrebounded the Bucs 35-29, with 29 of those being of the defensive variety. Trae Broadnax pulled down 8 total boards, but his 6 defensive rebounds led the team. 


All in all, Dickerson was obviously very pleased with how his team is improving each week. He had this to say when asked about his thoughts on the game. 


“Well, the first thing is that we didn’t foul.  They went to the line 31 times {when we played} down in Charleston, and they had 17 offensive rebounds. The last two days we worked on rebounding the basketball we talked a lot about taking care of the basketball. Our guys did a hell of a job tonight of preventing those things (fouls, turnovers) from happening and giving us a chance to win. Charleston Southern played better than us on December 31st. They scored 90 points on us. Our defense wasn’t there. Our rebounding wasn’t there and when you can’t defend and can’t rebound in this league, it’s gonna be tough. Our guys did a hell of a job tonight for about 30 minutes – we lost our composure for about 10 minutes, but for 30 minutes we did a good job of really defending and rebounding the basketball and giving ourselves a chance to play Upstate basketball.” 


He also noted that they are not only playing well, but selfless. 


“We’re playing selfless basketball right now. We had 19 assists – but we’re playing selfless basketball defensively and on the boards. When you have people like Seny {N’Diaye} and, and Khy {Khydarius Smith}, Ahmir {Langlais}, Nick {Alves}, and Jordan Surratt, we should be a good rebounding team. And that’s what we gotta do to continue to be good. We’re a young basketball team with not a lot of division one experience , but that doesn’t say that we can’t win. I’m excited about our team. Hopefully we can respond over the next 48 hours and go down to Rock Hill and play another good game. But, this is just one game in February. We gotta gear up and do the same thing again against a good Winthrop team.” 


Upstate’s tilt with the Eagles on Saturday is set to tip off at 5:00PM. Following that, they return home Wednesday night to host the Longwood Lancers with tip set for 7:00.

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