GAME NOTES: The Furman Paladins aim for their first road win of the season on Sunday when they visit Moody Coliseum for a non-conference matchup with the SMU Mustangs.
Furman is coming off of a 65-53 setback at Jacksonville, which extended its losing slide to three in a row and dropped its overall record to 3-8. The Paladins' 0-5 mark in away games includes losses to Auburn (64-50) and Wake Forest (79-55), which took place in the first two chapters of their current five-game road swing. They will dive back into SoCon action in 2013 when they visit the College of Charleston. Coach Jeff Jackson's team is struggling to pick up wins due to its offensive woes, as it is producing only 60.7 points per game. Furman is letting its opponents score 68.9 ppg on 45.6 percent shooting from the field.
Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown's Mustangs ended their three-game losing skid on Dec. 22 by cruising past Alcorn State to a 67-52 decision in the third- place game of the Cable Car Classic. The victory gave SMU a 9-4 record, which includes its four wins in as many outings at Moody Coliseum. The Mustangs are not explosive, but their efficient approach has yielded a 4.9-point average margin of victory to go along with their 3.8 rebound per contest edge in the rebounding battle over their opponents.
These schools will be meeting for the first time in history on Sunday.
The Paladins were dominated inside their last time out as Jacksonville held a 43-32 edge in the rebounding battle and outscored them, 32-18, in the paint. Furman went into the intermission trailing by eight points and was unable to overcome the deficit after converting just 28.6 percent of its field goal attempts in the final 20 minutes. Stephen Croone was the only Paladin to reach double figures with 11 points and the other four members of the starting five went just 6-of-27 from the field. Senior forward Colin Reddick, who leads the team with 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per outing, scored only four points on 1-of-5 shooting and failed to pull down a board.
Sophomore guard Jalen Jones paced SMU with 19 points and nine rebounds in its 15-point triumph over Alcorn State last Saturday. The Mustangs shot 52.4 percent from the floor, outrebounded the Braves, 35-23, and enjoyed a 34-16 scoring advantage in the paint. Nick Russell (14.6 ppg, 4.2 apg) tallied 14 points to register his fourth double-digit scoring performance in five games and Shawn Williams tallied 12 points after generating just nine total in his previous three outings. Jones is tops on the team with 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest. Russell is the second-leading scorer and Ryan Manuel is chiming in with 12.5 ppg to provide a third option.
The Mustangs looked like they might be a legitimate contender to challenge for the Conference USA crown before their rough mid-December stretch. The win over Alcorn State was a step in the right direction, but SMU needs to keep the ball rolling against the struggling Paladins to get back on track.
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