Tonight, the USC Aiken men’s basketball team can win the Peach Belt Conference regular-season title without any outside help.
The Pacers (18-6, 14-3 PBC) did their part on Saturday with a 92-67 win over Armstrong Atlantic, but didn’t get the assistance they needed in other games. USCA has locked up at least a share of the conference crown, but a win over the Jaguars (13-11, 8-9) would hand the Pacers their second straight regular-season championship outright.
To do that, head coach Vince Alexander’s squad will need more of what it got in its 76-62 road win over Augusta State on Feb. 2.
Defensively, the Pacers limited the Jaguars to 37.3 percent shooting from the floor and 18.2 percent from beyond the 3-point line, which included a 1-for-7 combined effort from beyond the arc for Ryan Weems and Devonte Thomas. Weems and Thomas are ASU’s leading 3-point shooters for the season.
The Pacers were below their average as a team from beyond the arc in that game, hitting on a third of their attempts as compared to their 42 percent mark on the year. Junior guard Ronald Zimmerman was anything but cold in Augusta, though, connecting on five of 10 3-point attempts to help boost his season average of 43.8 percent, good for fifth in the conference. He’s also first in the conference in made 3-pointers, but he’s not the Pacers’ most accurate 3-point shooter.
That designation belongs to point guard Re’mon Nelson, whose 46.2 percent mark is second in the conference. Jesse Seilern is also among the league’s top sharpshooters with a 43.4 percent average, which ranks just behind Zimmerman in sixth.
The Pacers were also able to feast inside with a near double-double from Paul Larsen in the first meeting, with Larsen dumping in 21 points and collecting nine rebounds. That was due in part to the second-half absence of Devon Wright-Nelson, who injured his ankle in the game. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound sophomore contributed only four points in that loss but has rounded back into form, scoring 16 points and hauling in eight rebounds in Saturday’s 69-67 homecoming win over Francis Marion.
Tonight’s game, set to tip at 7:30 p.m. as the second half of a doubleheader with the women’s team, is Senior Night. Nelson is the lone Pacer senior who dresses, with Rick Alderman and Mo Hubbard both out with injuries.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
What: USC Aiken men’s basketball
Who: USCA (18-6, 14-3 PBC) vs. Augusta State (13-11, 8-9 PBC)
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Convocation Center.
USCA: Re’mon Nelson, Sr. G. Nelson connected on both 3-pointers he attempted against Armstrong Atlantic and is second in the Peach Belt Conference in 3-point percentage at 46.2 percent.
Augusta State: Devon Wright-Nelson, So. F. Nelson only logged 13 minutes in the first meeting of these two teams, but is third on the team in scoring with 12.1 points per game and leads the Jags in rebounding with seven per game.