GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum men's basketball team wraps up a three-game road trip with a pair of Southeast Region rematches at Lees-McRae on Thursday (7 p.m.) and Young Harris on Saturday (4 p.m.).
The Pioneers (6-3) will be looking to avenge last month's 85-80 loss to Lees-McRae in Charlotte on Nov. 17 while TU will be going for the season sweep over Young Harris, defeating the Mountain Lions 74-73 in the Pioneers' home opener on Nov. 13.
RECAPPING LAST WEEK
Tusculum has won three of its last four games including last Saturday's 65-61 South Atlantic Conference win at Newberry. Senior guard Tariq Jenkins scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the second half as the Pioneers improved to 2-1 in league play. TU also remains undefeated in its true road games and goes to 4-2 in contests played away from Greeneville.
Lees-McRae is off to a sizzling start at 7-2 and have won five of its last six contests including last Saturday's 112-73 dismantling of Piedmont International. All five Bobcat starters scored in double-figures, led by the guard tandem of Quay Kimble and Jerick Haynes as they posted 21 points each. LMC forced 20 turnovers resulting in 25 points as the Bobcats remain undefeated at home.
Four Bobcats are scoring in double figures for Coach Steve Hardin's squad, led by Kamil Williams who is averaging 17.3 points per game (4th in Conf. Carolinas). Kimble is second on the team posting 17 points per night (6th in Conf. Carolinas). Kimble leads his conference in steals posting two per contest, while his .919 free throw percentage is a league-best (24th in DII). Haynes is averaging 13.9 points per game, while Andrew Gardner is fourth with his 11.7 points per game average, including a team-best 15 markers in last month's win over Tusculum.
Young Harris opened its season with five straight losses including a 74-73 setback at Tusculum as the Pioneers rallied from a 14-point deficit and got a three-pointer from senior guard Dillon Smith with 10.9 seconds remaining. But the Mountain Lions have been victorious in their last two outings with a home win over Pfeiffer on Dec. 2 and an 89-71 victory at Shorter last Saturday. In the win over Shorter, five Mountain Lions scored in double figures including 17 points by Seth McCoy.
YHC's Alphonso Willis leads five players in double digits averaging 15.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.
Jenkins leads the Pioneers in scoring, posting 15.4 points per contest (16th in SAC), while Preseason All-SAC guard Trenton Gibson is second on the team posting 14.1 points per outing (23rd in SAC). Gibson leads TU in assists (4.1 apg - 8th in SAC), steals (1.8 spg - 7th in SAC) and free throw percentage (.813). His 6.4 rebounds per game average is third on the roster and 16th in the league.
The Pioneers continue to be one of the best rebounding teams in the country. Tusculum is averaging 45.8 rebounds per game which are tops in the SAC and seventh in NCAA II. Included in that rebound tally is a DII best 20.89 offensive boards per contest, which is also second-best amongst all NCAA divisions. TU's +15.4 rebound margin is second in the country.
This will be the 21st recorded meeting between Tusculum and Lees-McRae, while the rematch with Young Harris the second meeting with the Mountain Lions.
The Pioneers own a 13-7 advantage in the all-time series, but the Bobcats have won the last three meetings. The other two wins during LMC's three-game streak over TU have both come in Banner Elk, including last year's 71-68 Bobcat win as the Pioneers went scoreless in the final five minutes of the game.
FOLLOW THE GAMES
The "Voice of the Pioneers" Brian Stayton will describe all the action of Tusculum basketball on the Pioneer Sports Network. Fans can listen to the game locally on WSMG Radio at 95.5 FM and 1450 AM, and on-line at www.TusculumPioneers.com starting 15 minutes prior to tip-off. Live video, Tusculum audio and live stats links are available at www.TusculumPioneers.com.