2017-18 Winthrop Men’s Basketball Season – GAME #19 (BIG SOUTH GAME #8)
@ Presbyterian Blue Hose
Sunday, January 21, 4:00pm EST
Templeton Center, Clinton, SC
WU (10-8 Big South record; 4-3 overall; Pomeroy/Sagarin/RPI Ranking: 157/156/186)
PC (8-12 Big South record; 1-6 overall; Pomeroy/Sagarin/RPI Ranking: 331/341/304)
Head Coach: Dustin Kerns (1st season as head coach at PC)
G Davon Bell, jr (5-10, 175) – 12.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.7 spg, 45.6 FG%, 37.3 3PT% (19 made threes), 81.0 FT% – 31.8 min/game
G Ethan Kay, jr (6-0, 185) – 6.2 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 32.8 FG%, 32.4 3PT% (36 made threes), 80.0 FT% – 15.1 min/game
G Reggie Dillard, sr (6-4, 222) – 15.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 45.5 FG%, 34.2 3PT% (39 made threes), 70.1 FT% – 33.3 min/game
F Ruben Arroyo, sr (6-8, 215) – 3.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 46.9 FG%, 22.2 3PT% (4 made threes), 46.7 FT% – 12.0 min/game
C Armel TeTe, so (6-9, 210) – 4.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 53.4 FG%, 0 made threes, 55.9 FT% – 19.8 min/game
Key players off the bench:
G JC Younger, so (6-4, 200) – 9.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 38.1 FG%, 37.8 3PT% (37 made threes), 85.3 FT% – 27.3 min/game
G Romeo Crouch, fr (6-3, 175) – 3.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 39.3 FG%, 38.9 3PT% (14 made threes), 56.5 FT% – 21.6 min/game
G Jaron Withers, sr (6-4, 200) – 2.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 40.9 FG%, 0 made threes, 62.1 FT% – 17.4 min/game
F Francois Lewis, jr (6-9, 230) – 12.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 50.7 FG%, 40.7 3PT% (24 made threes), 67.5 FT% – 21.5 min/game – LEWIS HAS MISSED THE LAST FOUR GAMES…STATUS FOR SUNDAY UNKNOWN
Winthrop has looked great at home in its last two games, easily taking care of Gardner-Webb and UNC Asheville. Those wins have seemed to right the ship for the Eagles after the tough 1-3 start to begin the Big South schedule. Now the Eagles have to head on the road for their next two games, the first being at Presbyterian on Sunday afternoon.
PC is in its first season under new head coach Dustin Kerns. In the non-conference part of the season, the Blue Hose reeled off 5 straight wins at one point (4 against D1 foes), which seemed impossible to believe coming into the season as they only beat 3 D1 opponents last year. Included in that string of victories was a win over a very solid UNC Greensboro team. Since that streak ended in early December, though, PC has struggled. Their only D1 win since then is against Longwood, and now the Blue Hose are possibly dealing with a big roster loss which will further hamper them going forward. Francois Lewis, who is a JUCO transfer that stepped in immediately this season to give PC a player with good size (6’9″, 230) and versatility (can hit threes and score around the basket), has missed the last four games. I have been unable to confirm why exactly he is out, but it seems doubtful that he will play Sunday. If he is out, that takes away a big weapon for the Hose, on top of the absence of Jo’Vontae Millner (an all-freshman team member last season who only played 7 minutes in the first game, and has not been on the floor since due to injury). That leaves a rather undersized team with not much depth, and PC has really struggled with Lewis now out of the lineup.
There are two players that will play on Sunday that WU needs to pay attention to. Junior Davon Bell is having a breakout season at point guard, leading the Big South in assists and providing a scoring punch off the dribble. He’s joined by senior Reggie Dillard, a versatile wing who is capable of lighting it up from outside (but he is streaky, and is 2 for 18 from three in the last three games). With Lewis possibly out, Bell & Dillard have to carry much of the offensive load.
With a new coach and a mix of newcomers and returnees, it is a bit tough to really get a read on what type of team PC is. Offensively, they shoot a lot of threes, though they aren’t terribly efficient from there. They have hardly any scoring presence inside from their frontcourt players when Millner and Lewis don’t play. They also are not very strong on the boards. The lack of size and depth up front also really hurts the Blue Hose on the defensive end, where they are in the bottom-25 nationally in Defensive Efficiency per KenPom.
So with all that said, on paper, even with this game on the road, Winthrop should be a heavy favorite, assuming Francois Lewis and Jo’Vontae Millner are not playing. The biggest concern for the Eagles will be how they respond from playing in an energy-filled televised game at home on Thursday night, to likely a very dead atmosphere in Clinton on a Sunday afternoon. As long as they avoid sleepwalking through the game, I think the Eagles can win this one comfortably.
My Prediction: Winthrop 83, Presbyterian 67
Other Big South games on Sunday, January 21:
UNC Asheville (4-3) @ Liberty (3-4), 2pm EST – Big South Network
Radford (6-1) @ Campbell (4-3), 2pm EST – Big South Network
High Point (4-3) @ Longwood (3-4), 3pm EST – Big South Network
Gardner-Webb (5-2) @ Charleston Southern (1-6), 5:30pm EST – Big South Network