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Upstate Notches Home Win Against Voorhees

USC Upstate made their return to Spartanburg after a week on the road. The Spartans played three games in the span of 8 days, all in 3 different cities, starting off last Wednesday vs East Carolina. They also made stops at Minnesota and Ball State. 


The road trip started off the best way possible as Upstate upset ECU 83-81 behind a fantastic performance by Trae Broadnax. The Spartans’ redshirt junior Guard logged 20 points on 9-14 from the floor with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Justin Bailey complemented that performance with 19 points of his own on 6-15 shooting with a pair of boards and assists. 


Things did not fall the Spartans’ way in the final 2 games of the trip, letting the game get away in the final 5 minutes against the Gophers for a 67-53 loss, and falling 75-58 in Muncie on Tuesday night. But, there has been a storyline to come from the trip. 


Even better than Justin Bailey and Trae Broadnax’s hot starts out of the gate has been the emergence of Ahmir Langlais, especially over the course of the 3-game road swing. Langlais was the 4th of 5 Spartans to score in double figures in the win over East Carolina (the other 2 being Miguel Ayesa with 14, and Nick Alves with 12), logging a cool 13 points on 6-10 from the field with 6 rebounds, an assist, and 2 steals. He followed that up with 12 points, 8 boards, and 4 steals at Minnesota, and just narrowly missed double figures at Ball State, tallying 9 points, 8 rebounds, an assist, and a steal. 


Naturally, the Spartans almost always seem to have their most success when they have 3 or more score in double figures, but make no mistake about it, if anything we have learned about this team so far, it is that their success rides on those 3 guys in particular, and when one has an off game, Upstate has the pieces in place for one of their other young guys to step up and carry the weight. 


That last bit could be a very accurate summary of how the afternoon went on Saturday as the Spartans hosted the Voorhees University Tigers out of the NAIA. 


The game got off to an incredibly slow and sloppy start for both squads. Dave Dickerson made one small change to the usual starting 5 for this one, opting to put in Miguel Ayesa at Guard over Ahmir Langlais, who did get a lot of minutes over the course of the last 3 games, and he had a chance right out of the gate to set the tone. He did, but maybe not in the way Upstate fans and Coach Dickerson may have anticipated or hoped. 


Upstate won the tip and set it up for Ayesa to take an open 3 from the left corner that rolled across the iron, and fell into the hands of Voorhees’ Dayreontae Fowler to go the other way. Upstate started the game shooting 1-5 from beyond the arch, with the lone make coming from Ayesa at the 18:26 mark. 


It was Trae Broadnax that got the scoring started in this one, with a layup off a Miguel Ayesa steal a little over 30 seconds into the game. He would carry the team with 4 points in the opening 4 minutes, which saw a narrow 8-6 lead for Upstate at the first whistle. Trae would go on to be the biggest bright spot of the entire first half for the Spartans. 


Upstate would go into the break with a 32-25 lead, marred by poor shooting and shot selection as well as turnovers. The Spartans shot 14-35 from the floor (40%) as a team in the opening 20 minutes, and an abysmal 2-14 from three point range (14.3%). They were also just 2 for 7 from the freethrow line, a stat that is both unideal and uncharacteristic of Coach Dickerson’s squad. 


Broadnax and Justin Bailey led all scorers at the intermission with 6 a piece on a combined 6 for 12 from the field. Ahmir Langlais added 4, while Jordyn Surratt, Miguel Ayesa, Floyd Rideau Jr, and Patrick Iriel each had 3 points. 


The 2nd half fared much better, at least offensively speaking, as USC Upstate’s depth finally took over and they were able to pull away, thanks in part to a huge 33-8 run over the final 9:48. In that span, the Spartans went 10 for 11 from the field and 5 of their last 6 from three point range. They also capped the game with an 11-0 run over the final 2 minutes and 46 seconds. 


In total, Upstate shot 16-30 from the field in the 2nd half (53.3%) and 6-10 from beyond the arch (60%), as well as 9 for 14 at the charity stripe (64.3%) as the Spartans overcame sloppy play and secured their 3rd win of the season 79-44. 


Justin Bailey was held to a season-low 6 points on just 3-11 shooting with 2 rebounds, an assist, and 2 steals. It was Freshman Guard Eduardo Placer that stepped up big time in this game to be that ever-crucial third key contributor. He ended up leading all Upstate scorers with 16 points on 6 of 8 from the field and a perfect 2-2 on 3 pointers as well as 2-2 from the charity stripe. He also had 3 rebounds, 2 of which were defensive, and 2 steals. 


Trae Broadnax and Ahmir Langlais tied for 2nd leading scorer, both tallying 12. Broadnax finished the night 5-8 shooting with 5 rebounds, an assist, and a steal. Ahmir was 4 for 9 from the floor with 12 rebounds (8 defensive), and 2 assists. 


On a more positive note, Upstate continued to do what they have done so well over the opening weeks of the season. They shared the basketball well, which with the bench usage in this game, led to just 3 players that saw minutes that did not score at least a point. They out rebounded Voorhees 52-32, with 39 defensive boards in that number. They forced 15 turnovers, 10 of which were steals, that led to 21 points. They scored 40 points in the paint, and 50 off the bench. All of that is enough to somewhat offset the sloppy play that included 13 turnovers and 3 players that ended up with 3 or more personal fouls. 


Upstate, now 3-4 on the season, will go back on the road, this time for a 2 game stretch in which they will be able to come home between games, starting in Conway at Coastal Carolina this Wednesday night with a 7:00 tip. Saturday, they’ll make the trek up to Durham, NC to take on North Carolina Central with a 3:00 tipoff. A week later, the Spartans will finally return to the Hodge Center for the first back-to-back slate of home games this season, with Kennesaw State on December 9th and Western Carolina on the 16th.

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