Checking In On… the Atlantic Sun ConferencePosted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2012
Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and the Southern Conference. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.
- 1,200 Wins. ETSU needed a second-half rally to earn the 1200th win in program history. Sitting on 1,199 wins, the Bucs faced UNF for the first time since being eliminated by the Ospreys in the semifinals of the 2011 A-Sun Championship. UNF jumped out to a 15-point first-half advantage and held ETSU to 31% shooting. Adam Sollazzo scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half and hit the game-winning free throw with 2.4 seconds remaining
- Dramatic Finishes. Monday featured three dramatic finishes. In addition to ETSU’s second-half comeback at UNF, a pair of A-Sun contests needed overtime to determine a winner. Jacksonville scored its first win of the conference season after withstanding a tying by USC Upstate at the end of regulation and beat the Spartans in the extra session. The second overtime thriller featured a game-winning three-pointer by Lipscomb’s Damarius Smith in the waning seconds lifting the Bison past Stetson and into a fourth-place tie in the A-Sun race.
- Coaching Battle. After 16 years seated next to each other on the Belmont bench, Rick Byrd and Casey Alexander met as opponents when Byrd’s Belmont welcomed Alexander’s Stetson Hatters to the Curb Event Center. The Hatters showed they have quickly picked up the trademark Belmont offense hitting 15 3-pointers, the most ever by an opponent in Curb Event Center history. The Bruins, who trailed 31-29 at halftime, dispatched the Hatters with a 55-point second half, winning 84-71.
- Belmont (13-6, Previous Ranking: 1): Despite a surprising home stumble against rival Lipscomb, the Bruins remain atop the Power Rankings after handling FGCU and Stetson. In the 95-53 win against FGCU, the Bruins hit 14 3-pointers and recorded 27 assists on 35 baskets. In wins against the Hatters and Eagles, the Bruins shot a combined 54.5 percent from the floor.
- Mercer (13-7, Previous Ranking: 2): The Bears fell into a second-place tie with ETSU after losing by 15 in Johnson City on Jan. 7. Mercer responded with a seven-point win at USC Upstate and a 30-point rout at home against Kennesaw State in the A-Sun Game of the Week. Over those three games, Justin Cecil has averaged 18.7 points per game and shot 52.4 percent from the 3-point arc.
- ETSU (10-7, Previous Ranking: 6): The Bucs extended their win streak to five by beating Mercer, Kennesaw State, Jacksonville and UNF. Against the Ospreys, the Bucs stumbled out of the gate, trailing by 15 points in the first half. Adam Sollazzo, who earned the league’s Player of the Week honor, scored 19 in the second half including the game-winning free throw with 2.4 seconds left.
- Lipscomb (9-10, Previous Ranking: 7): The Bison notched an upset against conference-leading Belmont on Jan. 6 then followed by splitting overtime contests with FGCU and Stetson. The Bison remain the only A-Sun school to topple Belmont since the start of 2010-11.
- USC Upstate (10-9, Previous Ranking: 4): The Spartans split wins and losses each of the last two weeks but could have easily won all four and remained tied with Belmont for first in the conference standings. Instead, a seven-point loss to Mercer and an overtime setback at Jacksonville has the Spartans tied with Lipscomb for fourth. They host Belmont and Lipscomb in their next two games. Against the Bison and Bruins, the Spartans are only 2-14.
- FGCU (8-10, Previous Ranking: 5): The Eagles scored their second-ever victories against both Jacksonville and Lipscomb to remain .500 in A-Sun play. The Eagles with Christophe Varidel, Filip Cvjeticanin, Bernard Thompson and Sherwood Brown are one of two A-Sun schools (along with Lipscomb) to boast at least four players to have already make 20 3-pointers.
- North Florida (9-11, Previous Ranking: 3): The Ospreys have fallen from near to the top A-Sun standings to eighth by dropping three straight games (at Stetson, vs USC Upstate, vs ETSU) by a combined 12 points. After holding their first 17 opponents to shooting just 43.1 percent from the field, the Hatters, Spartans and Buccaneers shot a combined 48.8 percent. On offense Parker Smith and Jerron Granberry have hit a combined 94 3-point field goals, best among teammates in the league.
- Stetson (7-11, Previous Ranking: 8): The Hatters suffered a pair of losses in Nashville, losing to Belmont and Lipscomb. Against the Bruins, the Hatters set a Curb Event Center record for a visiting team by hitting 15 3’s. This year they have four games in which they have made at least 13 3-pointers. In the entire Derek Waugh era (2001-2011), they made 13 or more 3-pointers in a game four times.
- Jacksonville (3-15, Previous Ranking: 10): The Dolphins put a halt to their 13-game losing streak – the second-longest in program history – by rallying at home against USC Upstate. Delwan Graham and Glenn Powell each recorded double-doubles against the Spartans – a first for a pair of JU teammates since November 2007. Cliff Warren moved passed Joe Williams for third on the Dolphins’ all-time win list.
- Kennesaw State (3-16, Previous Ranking: 9): After suffering a 30-point setback at in-state rival Mercer, the Owls traveled outside of conference play with a contest at Charlotte. Despite 26 points from Delbert Love, the 49ers handed the Owls their seventh straight loss. Against Charlotte, Lewis Preston played his bench a total of 23 points and they scored only four points.
Here are a couple of games in the coming days for fans to keep an eye out for:
- Monday, January 23 – Belmont at ETSU: Ever since ETSU joined the A-Sun in 2005, the Buccaneers have dominated league foes with the notable exception of Belmont going 94-26 against conference opponents outside of the Bruins. Rick Byrd owns a 12-3 record against Murry Bartow and the Bucs and is 6-1 in Johnson City, including a 27-point win in the 2007 A-Sun Championship final.
- Monday, January 30 – North Florida at Belmont: In their first meeting since March’s A-Sun final, the Ospreys come to Nashville to face the conference-leading Bruins. Belmont has dominated the series, winning 12 of the 13 all-time meetings and outscoring the Ospreys by an AVERAGE of 25.3 points per game.