GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University men's basketball team will carry a three-game winning streak into Saturday's South Atlantic Conference match-up against Anderson University. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m. from Pioneer Arena.
The Pioneers (9-4, 4-1 SAC) find themselves in a tie for second place in the league standings following a 67-61 upset win at 20th-ranked Queens University of Charlotte on Dec. 21. TU has been victorious in four of its last five contests including its last two wins where the Pioneers have overcome double-digit deficits.
RECAPPING THE LAST GAME
Tusculum senior guard Tariq Jenkins scored 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half as the Pioneers erased a 12-point deficit to knock off the defending SAC Champions for its first ever win at Queens.
The Black and Orange rallied from a 10-point deficit to defeat UVa-Wise 86-84 on Dec. 18, has won after trailing by double digits three times this year and seven times in the past two seasons under head coach JT Burton.
Jenkins, who scored a career-high 25 points in the win over UVa-Wise, shot 6-for-10 from the field, including two three-pointers, and was 6-for-8 from the foul line including a pair of key free throws with 1:20 left which gave Tusculum a 65-60 lead. Queens missed its final five shots from the field and never got any closer than four points following Jenkins' foul shots.
Sophomore guard Trenton Gibson added 11 points and matched his career high with 11 rebounds for the Pioneers, who shot 48 percent (24-for-50) from the field and 12-for-15 from the foul line as a team. Tusculum dominated on the glass, outrebounding Queens by a 44-24 margin, and the Pioneers recorded 11 blocked shots to tie for the second-most in a game in program history with the 11 blocks posted at Milligan on Jan. 29, 2002.
Junior forward Brandon Mitchell led the Pioneer block party with five rejections, one shy of his career high, and also contributed six points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes of playing time. Rookie's Joshua Scott and Keaston Brown each knocked down a pair of threes and finished with six points apiece, as Tusculum shot 7-for-16 (43.8 percent) from beyond the arc.
Like Tusculum, Anderson also comes into Saturday's contest riding a three-game winning streak. The Trojans (7-4, 2-3 SAC) have accounted for consecutive home victories over Lenoir-Rhyne (Dec. 14), Belmont Abbey (Dec. 17) and Limestone (Dec. 19).
Quin Nottingham is the conference's leading scorer averaging 22.8 points per game which is listed 21st in the country. He has eclipsed 30 points on two occasions this year including a career-best 36 markers against Lenoir-Rhyne last month.
Guard Shawn Benard leads the league in minutes played averaging 38.53 per contest which is fourth in the nation. He is second on the team in scoring averaging 17.3 points per game (7th in SAC) and leads TU in assists dishing out 5.5 helpers per game (3rd in SAC / 38th in NCAA II).
Josh Livingston is third on the team in scoring with 14.3 points per game (21st in SAC) and leads the Trojans in rebounding averaging 7.9 per game (3rd in SAC).
The Pioneers continue to be one of the top rebounding teams in the nation. Tusculum leads NCAA Division II in offensive rebounds per game (18.63 rpg), is third in rebounding margin at +12.7 and is 10th in total rebounds per game (42.8 rpg).
TU is third in the conference in scoring defense allowing 70.4 points per game and hold an impressive 8-1 record when limiting the opposition to fewer than 80 points so far this year.
Jenkins leads the Pioneers in scoring averaging 15.9 points per game (15th in SAC) including 22.5 ppg in his last two contests. Gibson, the 2019 SAC Freshman of the Year, is second on the team scoring 12.8 points per contest (27th in SAC) and is second on the roster in rebounding (6.5 rpg – 13th in SAC). Gibson also leads TU in both assists (4.0 apg – 7th in SAC) and steals (1.5 spg – T13th in SAC) per game.
Mitchell leads TU in rebounding with his 7.3 boards per game average (6th in SAC), which includes a SAC-best 3.6 offensive rebound average (19th in NCAA II). Mitchell also leads the team in blocked shots (1.8 bpg – 2nd in SAC/37th in NCAA II) to go along with his 8.3 points per game. Caleb Hodnett is averaging 9.6 points per contest and is third on the team in rebounding, pulling down 6.0 boards per outing (17th in SAC).
FOLLOW THE GAME
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 games locally on WSMG Radio at 95.5 FM and 1450 AM, and on-line at jewel955.com. Live video and live stats links are also available at www.TusculumPioneers.com.