Upstate Men's Basketball Racks up End of Year Honors

February 27, 2012 at 8:00 pm

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – After posting a 20-11 mark during the regular season and a 13-5 Atlantic Sun record, the USC Upstate men’s basketball team picked up three of the conference’s four major awards, the league office in Macon, Ga., announced today.

Upstate head coach Eddie Payne was named the A-Sun’s Coach of the Year, Torrey Craig (Great Falls, S.C.) was named the league’s Player of the Year and Ty Greene (Knoxville, Tenn.) earned Freshman of the Year honors.

The Coach of the Year honor is the second of Coach Payne’s career as the 27-year veteran earned Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year honors following the 2005 season in which the Spartans finished 24-8 and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament.

Coach Payne and the Spartans currently own the best turnaround in all of Division I with a 15-win improvement compared to the 2010-11 season.

The Spartans are just the second team to post 20 or more wins in their first season of full NCAA D-I eligibility after completing the five-year transition from to D-I. North Dakota State posted 26 wins in their first season of full eligibility (2008-09) and the Bison advanced to the NCAA Tournament (L, 74-84, (3) Kansas, First Round).

Torrey Craig picked up his second-straight end of season accolade as the 2010-11 A-Sun Freshman of the Year was named the conference’s Player of the Year. Craig becomes the first Upstate player to earn Player of the Year accolades since the 1991-92 season (Ulysses Hackett, Peach Belt Conference POTY).

Craig finished the 2011-12 regular-season at the top of the A-Sun scoring chart with 17.1 points per outing, while ranking second in rebounding with 7.9 rpg. Craig was the only unanimous selection to the league’s All-Conference First-Team.

Craig also finished second in defensive rebounds (5.5 drpg), fourth in three-point field goals made per game (2.5 pg), eighth in offense rebounds (2.5 orpg), ninth in blocked shots (1.1), 13th in free throw percentage (.685), 14th in steals (1.3 spg), 14th in three-point field goal percentage (.361).

Craig finished his sophomore campaign with 27 double-digit scoring performances. He surpassed the 20-point plateau 12 times and tallied eight double-doubles. He reached the 30-point mark for the first time in his career with 30 points behind a career-high eight three-pointers in the Spartans’ 87-74 win over Florida Gulf Coast (2/23/12). Craig also hit a pair of game-winners this season.

Against Jacksonville State (12/1/11), he sank a jumper in the paint with 18 seconds to play to give the Spartans a 50-48 victory over the Gamecocks. Against Belmont (1/21/12), Craig’s put back with 0.7 seconds to play gave the Spartans a 79-78 victory, the first-ever over the Bruins.

Ty Greene was named the A-Sun Freshman of the Year and became the second-straight Spartan and third overall to earn the honor. He was one of three A-Sun rookies to be a unanimous selection to the All-Freshmen Team.

Greene finished his rookie season 17th in scoring with 11.2 points per game. He also ranked near the top of the A-Sun in free throw percentage (5th, .777), three-point field goal percentage (.408), steals (11th, 1.4) and three-point field goals made per game (15th, 1.6)

Greene tallied 18 double-digit scoring efforts on the season and scored 20 or more points five different times. He posted a career-best 22 points and tied a career-high with five three-pointers as the Spartans claimed a 13-point victory over Florida Gulf Coast (2/23/12).

In his collegiate debut, Greene registered a career-best four steals at Arkansas (11/11/11). In Greene’s first conference game inside the Hodge Center, the rookie tallied 10 points and dished out a career-high seven assists against Kennesaw State (1/7/12).

Aside from rookie of the year honors, Greene may be most remembered for his buzzer-beating three-pointer from the left wing as the Spartans rallied from a 14-point deficit at Lipscomb (W, 62-61, 2/18/12). Greene’s game-winner was the number two play of the day on ESPN’s SportsCenter (2/19/12).

The Spartans will make their first appearance in the A-Sun Tournament Thursday night when they battle Florida Gulf Coast at 8:30 p.m. inside Mercer’s University Center. The battle between the Spartans and the Eagles will air on ESPN3.