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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 8, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: U.S. Cellular Center (13,080) -- Asheville, North Carolina. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Furman 5-9, Samford 7-6. Away Record: Furman 1-14, Samford 4-12. Neutral Record: Furman 0-0, Samford 0-2. Conference Record: Furman 3-14, Samford 9-9. Series Record: Furman leads, 9-4.
GAMES NOTES: For the third straight season the Furman Paladins and the Samford Bulldogs will meet up in the first round of the Southern Conference Tournament when they collide at the U.S. Cellular Center on Friday.
In fact the Paladins and Bulldogs have matched up in the opening round in four of the last five seasons. Furman grabbed wins in each of the last two tourney matchups but lost the only regular season meeting this season. Furman still leads the all-time series by a 9-4 margin.
Furman may be more hard pressed to knock off Samford this time around though. The Paladins were hands down the worst team in the SoCon this season, finishing the regular season just 6-23 overall and 3-15 in league action. Furman lost 10 straight games to close out the regular season and fall to the No. 12 seed. The Paladins have had quite a drought since their last title which came in 1980.
Samford wasn't exactly impressive either this season as it ended up 11-20 overall and 9-9 in SoCon games. The Bulldogs were still able to grab the fifth seed in the tournament, narrowly missing out on a first-round bye. Samford lost three of its last four contests to close out the year but guns for its first ever SoCon crown in just its fifth season as a member of the conference.
Whichever team comes out on top in this contest will take on fourth-seed Appalachian State in Saturday's quarterfinal round.
Furman faced off with the College of Charleston in the regular-season finale and was severely outplayed in a 74-50 romp. The Paladins managed to shoot at just a 31 percent clip from the field, while being outrebounded, 37-28. Colin Reddick scored 16 points as the high-scorer for Furman.
The Paladins weren't actually the worst offensive team in the SoCon but they certainly weren't one of the better ones either. Furman ranked second to last in the conference during the regular season in points (60.5 pg), assists (11.1 pg) and field-goal percentage (.407). All the while the Paladins surrendered more than 70 points per game on 46 percent shooting, while ranking among the three worst rebounding teams in the league (31.4 pg). Reddick (12.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is the only consistent offensive commodity on the roster as he shoots at team-best 50.4 percent from the field.
Samford was upended in overtime by a buzzer-beating jumper from Western Carolina's Mike Brown in its final game of the regular season. The game featured 16 ties and 12 lead changes, but Samford's 20-8 deficit in points off turnovers played a big part in the loss.
Tim Williams (14.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg) certainly has the Bulldogs' future looking bright after he locked down SoCon Freshman of the Year honors earlier this week. The 6-foot-8 forward scored in double figures in each of the last five games of the season to finish an impressive rookie campaign. Raijon Kelly (14.5 ppg, 4.7 apg) is the primary offensive threat and ball handler as he runs the point, while Clide Geffrard Jr. (11.1 ppg,) is another double figure scoring threat. Samford shot at a more efficient 44.5 percent in comparison to the Paladins, but was also one of the three worst scoring teams in the conference (61.5 pg), while actually ranking last in rebounds (28.9 pg).
Though the offensive pace at which Samford plays won't have it sprinting by anybody, the Bulldogs should have no issue moving on against Furman.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Samford 68, Furman 60
03/08 10:35:27 ET