USC AIKEN 76, AUGUSTA STATE 62
By JEREMY TIMMERMAN
AUGUSTA — On Saturday, USC Aiken’s men’s basketball team got something against Augusta State that neither team has seen much of in their rivalry: a road win.
For the first time since Feb. 23, 2002, the Pacers (14-5, 10-2 Peach Belt Conference) collected a 76-62 win over the Jaguars (10-8, 5-6) in Christenberry Fieldhouse. Head coach Vince Alexander said the Jags’ history of success makes his first win on their home turf even sweeter.
“Augusta State’s been so good, and they’ve owned us here for so many years; it’s very nice,” Alexander said. “I think you know, especially for Re’Mon Nelson, a guy who’s been in the program for four years.”
In addition to collecting his first win over ASU, Nelson notched another career accomplishment on the night. The senior point guard’s eight assists – to go with eight points and seven rebounds – pushed him to 446 total for his career. That’s seven clear of Eric Dugans for the program record.
Nelson said the acheivement spoke to the faith Alexander had shown in him to allow him four years of quality playing time.
“It’s very nice to be able to come to a program, be a four-year starter and actually be able to break some records,” he said. “Coach believes in me ... it means a lot me. I’m happy that I was able to do it.”
The Pacers trailed only once in the game, a 7-6 deficit with 15:51 to go in the first half that Ronald Zimmerman erased with a 3-pointer 10 seconds later. Zimmerman finished the night with 15 points on five long-balls, and that was the last time the visitors relinquished the lead.
As solid as Zimmerman was, the night belonged to Paul Larsen offensively. The junior transfer scored 21 points and barely missed a double-double with nine rebounds.
Larsen said positioning and a post-focused gameplan were the keys to his productive evening, which also included a 7-of-9 effort at the free-throw line.
“Coach had us running plays to the post,” Larsen said. “He told me before we started ... ‘They’re going to have a weak post presence,’ and he wanted me to go ahead and finish everything I could.”
Jesse Seilern also scored in double-digits for the Pacers with 10 points.
Ryan Weems led Augusta State in scoring with 12 points, and Devonte Thomas and Josh Samuels had 11 each.
The win pushed the Pacers’ winning streak to five and gave USCA a two-game lead in the PBC’s East Division over UNC Pembroke. A Young Harris loss to Georgia Southwestern also gave the Pacers the overall PBC lead in the race for the regular-season crown.
Still, Alexander isn’t caught up in what the win means at the front end of a four-game road trip, saying that “you can’t sleep on any team in this league.”
“It doesn’t really set a tone, honestly. It just says that you .. beat a good team on the road, and you’ve got to get ready for the next game,” he said. “I think after we win all four of them, it’ll set a tone. I think it’ll set a real good tone. I’ll sleep better.”
The Pacers will next travel to Laner on Wednesday before heading to Armstrong Atlantic on Saturday and Flagler on Feb. 14.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.