Upstate Welcomes Kennesaw State in A-Sun Opener

January 8, 2015 at 4:12 pm

The USC Upstate men’s basketball teams puts its four-game winning streak on the line Saturday at 2 p.m. when the Spartans host Kennesaw State in the Atlantic Sun Conference opener from the Hodge Center.

The Spartans have won nine of their last 10 conference home games dating back to the 2012-13 season. In addition, Upstate has won four of its last five conference openers.

Upstate won its fourth road game of the year Tuesday night behind the 22 points of senior guard Ty Greene. Greene, who leads the conference with 17.5 points per game, turned in his sixth game of the year of at least 20 points in helping the Spartans to a 61-49 win. Fellow senior Mario Blessing added 12 points as Upstate held its fourth opponent of the season to fewer than 50 points. The Spartans rank 19th in the NCAA in scoring defense by limiting opponents to 56.9 points per game.

The Spartans are winning by an average of 18.5 points and holding opponents to 52.2 points during the winning streak. In addition, Upstate is shooting 46.1 percent from the field and causing 18.3 turnovers per game. The Spartans rank fourth in the NCAA in turnover margin with an average of 6.3 fewer turnovers than their opponents. UMKC turned the ball over 24 times Tuesday against Upstate.

Kennesaw State saw its four-game losing streak end Jan. 3 with a 92-66 home win over Thomas University. The Owls, however, have not defeated a Division I opponent since Dec. 17 at Youngstown State and are 1-8 on the road.

Junior guard Yonel Brown leads Kennesaw State and ranks fourth in the A-Sun with 15.1 points per game and is the reigning A-Sun Player of the Week. Nigel Pruitt is second on the team with 10.9 points per game and Orlando Coleman and Willy Kouassi each pull down a team-high 5.8 rebounds per game.

USC Upstate and Kennesaw State will be meeting on the hardwood for the 30th time when the two schools tipoff Saturday. Upstate is 19-10 all-time against the Owls and has won six of the last seven games between the two, winning by an average of 12.0 points per game. Additionally, Upstate has beaten Kennesaw State seven straight times inside the Hodge Center and has not lost at home to the Owls since Jan. 17, 2004.

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