DATE & TIME: Saturday February 18th, 5:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pete Hanna Center (4,974) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: Furman 8-5, Samford 6-8. Away Record: Furman 5-8, Samford 4-8. Neutral Record: Furman 0-0, Samford 0-0. Conference Record: Furman 7-8, Samford 7-8. Series Record: Furman leads, 8-2.
GAME NOTES: The Samford Bulldogs will play their last regular season game at home as they host the Furman Paladins for a Southern Conference bout.
This will be the 11th meeting between Furman and the Bulldogs in history. The Paladins hold an 8-2 series lead after sweeping all three games last season, which included two regular season wins and a victory in the opening round of the SoCon Tournament.
Head coach Jeff Jackson's team improved its record to 13-13 last Saturday with an 80-66 victory over Western Carolina. The Paladins had one of their best shooting performances of this season against the Catamounts, as they knocked down 54 percent of their field goal attempts and 11-of-20 from three-point range. The victory made Furman's SoCon record 7-8, which has it 6.5 games behind Davidson in the league's South Division. Although the Paladins are an unimpressive team offensively, their scoring defense ranks second in the conference with an allowed average of 65.6 ppg.
Furman does not have any superstars on its roster, but it has found Brandon Sebirumbi and Charlie Reddick to be serviceable leaders. Sebirumbi leads the squad with 11.0 points and 5.4 boards per game. Reddick is second in both categories, as he is averaging 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest. Bryant Irwin and Bobby Austin got into the mix for the Paladins in last week's win over Western Carolina, as they scored 14 points and 12 points, respectively.
Samford lost for the second time in three tries on Wednesday as it was dismantled, 81-54, by the SoCon leading Davidson Wildcats. The Bulldogs could not keep up with Davidson's 14-of-29 shooting from beyond the arc, as they managed to make only 5-of-17 in the losing effort. Head coach Jimmy Tillette's team is now 10-16 overall and 7-8 in league action. The Bulldogs are three games back of the SoCon's North Division leaders, UNC Greensboro, with three games left to play.
The Bulldogs will look to Drew Windler and Tyler Hood to guide them past Furman in this afternoon's battle. Windler is leading the team with 13.6 ppg, which Hood is second on the team with an average of 10.9 ppg. Jeffrey Merritt is leading Samford in rebounding (6.6) and assists (3.5). Raijon Kelly was the lone bright spot for the Bulldogs in their embarrassing 27-point loss to Davidson, as he scored a team-high 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor.
While Furman's overall record is slightly more impressive, its identical league record to Samford indicates this will be a hard-fought battle. Neither team has a superstar, which should create a team-oriented battle for a .500 record in SoCon action.