The USC Aiken menís basketball team has had a week to lick its wounds following its first Peach Belt Conference setback of the season, a 95-90 overtime loss at Columbus State. Now, the Pacers (7-4, 3-1) return to action in the Convocation Center tonight for a game against a surging Montevallo team. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Falcons (8-4, 4-1) are winners of three games in a row, and their 19-point victory over North Georgia on Thursday vaulted them into first place in the PBC West Division standings ahead of the Saints. Sophomore Troran Brown led the Falcons in that win with a career-high 26 points, showing the teamís balanced scoring attack.
On the season, five different Montevallo players are averaging 9.9 points per game or more. Brown, a sophomore point guard, is averaging 6 assists and more than 15 points per game, second on the squad to Drico Hightower. The senior forward is posting close to 17 points per game on 63 percent shooting from the field. Other Falcons capable of big scoring games include senior forward Marvin Fitzgerald (14 points, 10 rebounds per game), the teamís leading 3-point shooter senior guard Jonas Brown (more than 10 points per game) and sophomore guard Ryan May (9.9 points per game).
As a team, the Falcons are connecting on slightly less than 50 percent of their field goal attempts. That could be an issue for the Pacers, who have struggled when their opponents have connected on better than 41 percent in games this season.
While USCA is trying to find consistency on defense, it has leaned on its ability to score. In its seven wins, itís averaging more than 89 points per game, good enough to leave it in a tie for second place in the PBC East Division standings. The Pacers top scorer is Ronald Zimmerman, whoís averaging 18 points per game this season and tallied a team-best 27 in the overtime loss last Saturday.
Other Pacers scoring in double figures for the season include Santoine Butler, Reímon Nelson and Paul Larsen, while Jesse Seilern and Kinley Branch are averaging better than nine points per game. USCA has also gotten a boost of the bench in recent games with the return of reserve guard DeVontae Wright. He allows Nelson, the programís all-time leader in steals and approaching the mark in assists, to play off the ball and even get the occasional breather. The Pacers will need to be firing on all cylinders to prevail but have the advantage of playing at home, where theyíre 5-1.
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than a dozen years after graduating from Syracuse University.
What: USC Aiken menís basketball
Who: USCA (7-4, 3-1 PBC) vs. Montevallo (8-4, 4-1 PBC)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Convocation Center
USCA: Ronald Zimmerman, Jr. G. Zimmerman has had many more hot nights than cold ones this season, and is coming off a 27-point performance to push his season average to 18 per game.
Montevallo: Marvin Fitzgerald, Sr. F. Fitzgeraldís averaging a double-double this season with more than 14 points and 10 rebounds per game.