Eagles stay busy over the break

Robert George

The men’s basketball team stayed busy over the break as they took on a pair of SEC teams and competed in the Palmetto State Shootout. The team went 1-3 over the break.

Game 1 @ Ole Miss (L 72-82)

The Eagles began the break with a trip to Oxford, Miss. to take on the Rebels in the Tad Smith Coliseum. The Eagles fought hard but came up just short in their first road game of the season. The Rebels attempted a whopping 53 free-throw attempts compared to just 27 attempts for the Eagles. Three different Eagles fouled out, and three more finished with four fouls.

Ike Smith led the team with 14 points and six rebounds in just 18 minutes. Mike Hughes and Devonte Boykins added 13 points a piece. The team shot just 31 percent from the field.

Game 2 @Auburn (L 92-62)

The Eagles then traveled to Auburn for the second consecutive matchup against the SEC. Despite trailing by just one heading into halftime, the Tigers outscored the Eagles 55-26 in the second half and ran away with the 30-point victory.

“We were scoring in the first four minutes of the second half, but we turned it into a pickup game and that is not going to favor us,” head coach Mark Byington said in an interview following the game.

Mike Hughes, Ike Smith and Tookie Brown were the only Eagles to hit double-digits in points. The team committed 18 turnovers and shot just 23 percent from behind the arc, their worst mark of the season.

Game 3 @ The Citadel (L 90-95)

The offense found its rhythm again behind a career-high 26 points from Tookie Brown, but was outlasted by The Citadel in the first game of the Palmetto State Shootout. The Citadel shot 50 percent from the field and knocked down 18 shots from behind the arc.

Brown shot 7-13 from the field and converted on 11 free throws. The freshman stuffed the stat sheet with five assists, two steals and five rebounds.

“He was able to get by guys and finish at the rim. He embraced the game and wasn’t afraid to make plays, and we expect more and more things like this out of him,” Byington said in an interview following the game.

Game 4 @ USC Upstate (W 84-80)

The team picked up its first road win with a close win over Upstate on Friday night. The Eagles knocked down 14 shots from downtown and went 16-18 from the charity stripe in the wire-to-wire victory.

The game was tied at 78 with 90 seconds remaining when Ike Smith nailed a pair of clutch free throws to give the Eagles the lead for good. Smith added another bucket with nine seconds left to help seal the win. He finished the game with 17 points and a pair of steals. Jake Allsmiller scored 18 points, all of which came from behind the arc. Tookie Brown put together another solid performance with 16 points and four assists in 25 minutes.

Freshmen guards Tookie Brown and Ike Smith lead the team in scoring with 14.6 and 13.2 points per game respectively. Smith is also tied with Mike Hughes with an average of 5.6 rebounds per game. The young team will contiune to learn and improve over the next few weeks as they compete in their non-conference schedule. They will travel to take on Savannah State on Wednesday before taking on Duke University on December 15 in Duraham, NC.