Since the calendar turned to the 2013 year, USC Aiken’s men’s basketball team has not lost a home game, a five-gave streak it will put to the test against Lander today.

The Bearcats (7-14, 2-12 Peach Belt Conference) were headed the exact opposite direction, having lost 10 straight before an 81-62 win over Armstrong Atlantic on Thursday. That would seem to be a good sign for the Pacers (16-6, 12-3), but that same Pirate squad just beat USCA 90-87 on Feb. 9.

Still, things are trending up for the Pacers, who have a firm grasp on first place in the PBC East and a 1 1/2-game lead over Montevallo for the overall conference lead.

Anchoring the Pacer attack is Paul Larsen, owner of nine double-doubles on the year. He is averaging 13.2 points per game, second on the team, and 9.1 rebounds, good for third in the conference. The Bearcats will attempt to counter him with Dermaine Smith, who also averages a near double-double at 12.5 points and 8.1 rebounds.

Two more Bearcats average in double-digits, with Jareal Smith leading the way at 16.5 points per game and David Pruett adding 15.9.

A total of four Pacers are averaging double-figure points, led by Ronald Zimmerman at 15.6. Zimmerman is third in the PBC in 3-point shooting at 44.7 percent and well clear of the field for tops in made 3-pointers at 89. Re’Mon Nelson and Santoine Butler round out the Pacers’ leading scorers with 13 and 12.5 points per game, respectively.

Jesse Seilern is close to the double-digit mark with 9.8 poins per game and is also connecting on 43.1 percent of his 3-point attempts. He and Nelson are also connecting on better than 78 percent of their free-throw attempts to lead a Pacer squad that is third in the league at 72.7 percent.

Despite Pruett’s average of 83.5 percent effort from the charity stripe, Lander is ranked near the bottom of the leauge at 65.9 percent.

When the teams last met on Feb. 6 in Greenwood, Larsen (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Butler (12 points, 10 rebounds) each had a double-double for the Pacers in a 74-60 win.

Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.