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Matt Hill's SoCon Report 2/5

By Matt Hill

WEEKEND GAMES

Samford 78, Chattanooga 56

This was a showdown between two of the top teams in the Southern Conference and a possible SoCon Tournament championship game preview, but the Bulldogs definitely showed why they are at the moment the cream of the crop in the SoCon.

Samford looked very suspect the last three games against Furman, ETSU and Wofford, winning two tight ones against the Bucs and the Terriers and losing to Furman. The 'Dogs erased all doubts on Saturday as they were dominant in a 78-56 rout over Chattanooga at the Roundhouse.

Samford received the best news they could possibly get on Saturday with the return of Jermaine Marshall. He scored eight points in eight minutes, and his presence was felt in a major way. He brings even more balance to an already very balanced squad.

Samford shot 54 percent from the field in the first half and completely controlled the first 20 minutes. The most impressive part of the half was the stifling defense the Bulldogs played, holding Chattanooga to six field goals in the frame.

Chattanooga did make one run in the second half, going on a 14-5 spurt to cut the Bulldogs lead to 48-37.

Chattanooga did slice Samford's lead to single digits, but then the rout was on. Samford pushed the advantage to 61-47 with 7:14 to go in the contest.


Samford completely dominated the last seven minutes of the game. Samford led 71-56 with 2:25 to go and then Chattanooga didn't score the rest of the way.

One thing about Samford they are very balanced offensively and that showed with Jaden Campbell leading the way with 16 points followed by AJ Staton McCray with 12 points and 10 rebounds, Achor Achor had 12 and reserve Garrett Hicks had 11 points. 

Honor Huff had 16 points to lead the Mocs with Myles Che coming in with 15 and Trey Bonham had 13.

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UNCG 89. Furman 87

This was a battle of two teams trying to put themselves in the conversation of threatening Samford in the SoCon as UNCG came into the contest 7-2 in the league with rising Furman coming in 6-3 and both played like top notch teams in this thrilling contest.

The Spartans squeezed out one at the end as a missed Marcus Foster free-throw ended Furman's chances for overtime in a 89-87 win for UNCG at Timmons Arena.

Foster was fouled in the final seconds with Furman tied at 87-87. Foster is one of the most reliable free throw shooters in the Southern Conference and all he needed to do was hit two to send the game into overtime.


After missing the first one, he was forced to miss the second one and Greensboro pulled down the rebound and this game was over.

In-between it was a great college basketball game and it was a great showcase on national TV on a Sunday afternoon. It was also a thrilling Furman comeback in the final minutes of the contest.

Furman held a 51-47 lead at the half on 59 percent field goal shooting and 13-for-13 on the foul line. The Paladins had everything going for them.

UNCG reverted back to the defensive prowess head coach Mike Jones is known for. From the start of the second half until the 6:30 mark, UNCG outscored Furman 33-19 to hold an 80-70 advantage.

Furman quickly answered with an 8--0 run and the Spartan edge was only two points at 80-78. A key turn of events happened when J.P, Pegues missed a three-pointer and then on the other end Keshawn Langley, who finished with 30 points on the day nailed a three to extend the Spartans lead to 87-81.

Furman did put itself back in position to win, but that sequence might have been the dagger because the three would have put the Paladins in a great position with all the momentum. You cannot fault the effort of Furman, it is a much different team with Foster, and the Paladins are going to be a major threat in Asheville.

UNCG won a game where for a good portion the defense was not there and it is a credit to Coach Jones for being able to adapt to what style the game was being played at.

The Spartans are now 8-2 in the conference just one game behind league-leading Samford. With Greensboro and Samford both winning, there is more separation between the top teams and those two are the cream of the crop.

Samford and UNCG will play for the conference lead or co-lead in UNCG's case on Thursday night at 6pm on ESPNU. 

In addition to Langley's 30, Mikeal Brown-Jones and Jalen Breath were both in double figures with 19 and 13 points, respectively for UNCG.

Foster had 26 with Pegues hitting five three pointers and netting 25 points for the Paladins. Alex Williams finished with 13 for Furman.

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Other Results

Mercer 90, VMI 69

Somehow and I guess this was on Television in some areas, but this was the Southern Conference Game of the Week. Don't think it lived up to that.

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Wofford 88, Western Carolina 86

The Catamounts have fallen apart and have now seen their regular season title hopes pretty much go down the window. Wofford is looking like a scary team headed to March.

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ETSU 62, The Citadel 60

The Bucs seem to be doing a good job beating the bottom feeders of the conference, but need to get some wins down the stretch to avoid playing on Friday in the SoCon Tournament.

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MIDWEEK GAMES

Chattanooga 91, Western Carolina 85

The Mocs continued their winning ways with a come from behind win over Western Carolina.

Chattanooga trailed 21-17 in the first half and Western was in control, but the Mocs took over in the second half, led by the hot shooting of Trey Bonham.

Western could not stop Chattanooga in the second half and the Mocs were able to hit shots at will.

Western continued their downward swing toward the SoCon standings but Chattanooga improved to 7-2 in the league after the game. It has been a phenomenal run after a slow start..

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Samford 81, Wofford 79

For the third-straight game, the Bulldogs were in a battle but came away with a victory.

Samford survived a scare from the Terriers, who tied the game at 79-79 only to see Samford hit the game winning bucket right down the floor.

The Bulldogs got away by the skin of their teeth, but it was a phenomenal effort by Wofford, who has asserted itself as a sleeper in the league.

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Furman 82, The Citadel 79 OT


It looked like the Bulldogs were going to have their biggest win since beating Notre Dame in December, but a huge three by the Paladins at the end of regulation gave Citadel yet another heartbreak.

Furman went on to finish the deal in overtime to add to what another crazy night in the SoCon.

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UNCG 85, VMI 79

The Keydets made it interesting in the second half, but the Spartans had too much firepower in a win over VMI.

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ETSU 54, Mercer 49

The Bucs earned the season sweep of the Bears in a defensive struggle in Macon.

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