Columbus State University

Columbus State men's basketball team begins crucial three-game stretch

The Columbus State men's basketball team is in a three-way tie for first place in the Peach Belt Conference's Western Division with Montevallo and Young Harris.

The Cougars' next three games include two against Montevallo and one against Young Harris.

"These next three games will go a long way in deciding how our season turns out," CSU coach Robert Moore said. "We have to be ready for everything and that begins in practice and I feel like the guys have been putting the effort in for us to be successful."

The crucial three-game stretch begins Wednesday night at 8:30 at Montevallo's TrustMark Arena.

The series has been one-sided in Montevallo's favor as the Falcons have won 16 of the 17 games dating back to the 1987-88 season. Montevallo holds a 22-6 lead in the series.

Montevallo beat CSU three times last season, including in the PBC tournament championship game.

Both CSU (16-5, 10-4) and Montevallo (14-7, 10-4) head into Wednesday night's game having lost on Saturday. Montevallo lost to North Georgia 91-90 in overtime, while CSU fell at Georgia College, 88-78.

"We didn't play our best game Saturday," Moore said. "We didn't move well on offense and played lazy defense. We can't continue to do that and expect to win games down the stretch."

CSU (16-5, 10-4 PBC) is currently tied atop the Peach Belt Conference West Division standings with Montevallo and Young Harris. The three teams are also in a four-way tie with Lander for the PBC regular season championship.

Meanwhile, the Lady Cougars are in a tight race of their own. They (17-4, 11-3) are tied with Clayton State (17-4, 11-3) for first place.

Michelle Mitchell led CSU to a 66-53 win at Georgia College on Saturday with 28 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.

"We played outstanding defense on Saturday," CSU coach coach Jonathan Norton said. "We fought for 40 minutes and kept ourselves in the race for the regular season championship."

That was the 14th time this season CSU held a team under 60 points. CSU leads the PBC and is in the top 20 in scoring defense, giving up 56.9 points per game.

CSU has won the last five against Montevallo (7-14, 4-10). Wednesday night's game starts at 6:30 p.m.

Kevin Price, 706-320-4493, Follow Kevin on Twitter@lesports