In search of its first six-game winning streak since 2005-06, the USC Upstate men’s basketball team returns home to host North Florida Thursday at 7 p.m. in a pivotal Atlantic Sun matchup from the Hodge Center.
Upstate owns a 5-3 mark in the league and currently sits two games behind North Florida in the conference standings, but the Spartans are the only A-Sun team thus far this season to have defeated the 7-1 Ospreys. Senior guard Ty Greene scored a career-high 39 points in the first meeting with the North Florida to help the Spartans erase an 11-point deficit en route to victory.
The Spartans registered their fifth straight victory Saturday when Upstate turned in a 74-46 win at Kennesaw State. Greene scored a game-high 21 points and Fred Miller added 11 points and seven rebounds. Josh Cuthbertson scored 10 points and had four rebounds off the bench.
Upstate featured another strong defense effort on its way to holding its sixth opponent of the season to fewer than 50 points. Additionally, the Spartans didn’t allow any of the Kennesaw State players to score in double figures. Upstate leads the A-Sun and ranks 19th in the NCAA in scoring defense by limiting opponents to 58.6 points per game.
Individually, Greene leads the conference and ranks 24th in the nation with 19.4 points per game. The Knoxville, Tenn., native has scored over 20 points in six straight A-Sun games and is averaging 23.5 points per game in league contests.
Miller is second on the team and 11th in the conference in scoring with 12.5 points per game. The Atlanta, Ga., product also ranks second in the league in assists (4.1 apg) and steals (2.0 spg), as Upstate paces the conference in both categories.
Sophomore Michael Buchanan ranks third in the A-Sun with 6.0 rebounds per game while ranking first with 2.6 offensive rebounds per game. Junior forward ShunQuez Stephens is seventh in the league with 5.4 rebounds per game.
North Florida has won eight of its last nine games following its 77-50 victory Friday over crosstown rival Jacksonville. The Ospreys are 4-0 on the road in conference play and won those games by an average of 13.8 points per game.
Sophomore guard Dallas Moore leads the Ospreys and ranks fourth in the conference with 15.8 points per game. Moore is also third in the league with 4.0 assists per game and eighth with a .400 three-point field goal percentage. Beau Beech (12.6 ppg), Chris Davenport (11.3 ppg) and Jalen Nesbitt (10.2 ppg) also average in double figures for North Florida.
USC Upstate and North Florida will be meeting on the hardwood for the 24th time when the two schools tipoff Thursday. Upstate is 15-8 against North Florida in the all-time series that dates back to the 1997-98 season. The Spartans have won seven of the last eight games in the series and four in a row after a 79-74 victory at UNF Arena earlier this season. Upstate has also beaten North Florida four straight times inside the Hodge.