Wofford 73, Western Carolina 61
Player of the Game: Spencer Collins had 17 points, five rebounds and three assists. He made 10 of 13 from the free throw line. He was very good, especially early. That was critical, because Karl Cochran did not score in the first half.
Stat of the Game: Western Carolina 38.1% from the floor. The Catamounts had not shot over 31% against the Terriers yet this year until this one. They needed to shoot around 45% to really be able to win this one, but they remained just as cold as ever against Wofford. Thus, another double digit loss.
Where Western Carolina goes from here: The Catamounts lose Kenneth Hall (not nothing, but not major) and also James Sinclair (a significant loss). There have to be real questions about whether or not this program is going to be better or worse next year. They overachieved to some degree this year, but Rhett Harrelson,. Justin Browning, Torrion Brummitt and Mike Brown will all be seniors, and it is their turn to lead this program. Are they really the heart of a SoCon champ? I'm not sure. I'm not convinced that they are not improving at the same rate as some other programs and may even see a drop off next year. However, I doubted them heading into this year and was burned on that pick. So, I should warn you not to underestimate them.
Where Wofford goes from here: The Terriers are just one win away from a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. They did not play perfectly in this one (they struggled on the glass in this one), but they did more than enough to win. They have now five consecutive SoCon Tournament games. As hard as this is to believe, none of those came against a team seeded higher than fourth. They won't get one Monday night either, whether they win or lose. This team is a very good team and very dangerous if they can get to the NCAA Tournament. But they better focus on an improving Furman team to make sure they get there.
Furman 52, Mercer 49
Player of the Game: Kris Acox had 12 points and ten rebounds and one momentum changing power slam that helped turn the game the Paladins way. Acox was the reason the Paladins won this game, even though Stephen Croone's number may be slightly better. Acox made 6 of 9 from the floor and come up with seven huge offensive rebounds.
Stat of the Game: The Paladins came up with 46.2% of their offensive rebound opportunities while Mercer only had 27% of theirs. That is a huge swing, and when both teams are cold shooting (Mercer shot 28.8% from the floor) getting more opportunities is huge.
Where Mercer goes from here: TJ Hallice and Darious Moten are both seniors. Those are important pieces of this club. They are going to have a tough time replacing them. Still, they've seen worse. Last year, five senior starters graduated, and they still got back this far. The Bears will be one of the top teams in the SoCon next year, even without Hallice and Moten. This loss was wildly disappointing, make no mistake. But this club should be slightly improved next year.
Where Furman goes from here: This young team has grown up before our eyes. It is hard to believe that it was just two weeks ago on Sunday that this Paladins team was getting worked over by UNCG by the score of 84-49. Now, they are just one win from Dayton and playing in the First Four. The freshman are contributing and this team is really playing better. Niko Medved deserves a ton of credit for getting this team to play their best basketball at the perfect time of year. The last place Paladins have beaten the second place and third place team on consecutive nights. Now, if they can just take out the pesky number one seed and get to the NCAA Tournament.