They’ve played exhibitions against a pair of Southeastern Conference programs in a 48-hour span. They’ve traveled to Puerto Rico, where they played three games in as many days. Now, the USC Aiken men’s basketball team, will finally play a game at home.
The Pacers – ranked No. 4 in the Division II Bulletin men’s basketball Preseason Top 25, sixth in the NABC/Division II Coaches’ Poll and No. 7 in the preseason edition of the BennettRank – will play their first regular-season game of the 2013-14 season at the Convocation Center tonight. They’ll play host to Allen University, an NAIA program that’s coming off a 6-25 season.
USCA is coming off a weekend trip to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, where it competed in the 2013 Mayaguez Basketball Classic. It dropped its opening game to P.R.-Bayamon, 60-55, last Friday.
Starting the season with a loss didn’t sit well with the Pacers who responded with a pair of lopsided victories. On Saturday, they bounced back with 73-52 win over P.R.-Piedras, followed by an 84-46 demolition of P.R.-Mayaguez Sunday.
Through three games, Ron Zimmerman is the team’s leading scorer with an average of 14.7 points per game. He’s connected on 10 3-pointers on the season, with half of them coming in Sunday’s win when he had a game-best 23 points.
His fellow All-Peach Belt Conference selection Paul Larsen has also started the season strong. Larsen’s connecting on close to 54 percent of his shots for an average of 11.7 points per game to go with seven rebounds a game. Larsen tied for the team’s leading scorer in the first two games, following Friday’s 13-point effort with a 16-point showing.
Jesse Seilern (9.0 points per game) and DeVontae Wright (6.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game) have also been major contributors, but the player who has jumped out of the stat sheet is Alvin Brown. The center returning from a two-year absence because of academic issues hasn’t wasted anytime living up to the status he created for himself as the 2010-11 PBC Defensive Player of the Year. While Brown is averaging 7.3 points and a team-best 8.3 rebounds per game, the number that is impossible to ignore is 24. That’s the number of blocks he’s recorded, including Sunday’s double-double of 10 rejections and 10 boards.
He figures to add to his totals tonight against an Allen squad still struggling to find it’s identity. This could be another tough year for the Fighting Yellow Jackets, which lost an exhibition at North Carolina A&T, 76-39. Last year as a sophomore, Kristopher Riggs hit more than 100 3-pointers for the Columbia University.
He likely won’t get many open looks against the long, athletic and aggressive Pacers who will likely look to make a strong statement from the start of tonight’s game. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.
What: USC Aiken men’s basketball
Who: USCA (2-1) vs. Allen
Where: Convocation Center
When: 7 p.m.