Sunday, January 11, 2015

Terriers, 4-0 in conference play, set sights on The Citadel

It's been a harsh, laborious stretch of the fledgling year for Wofford men's basketball, a squad in the midst of their best seasonal start in decades. As if the non-conference slate, studded with foes inferior and nationally-acclaimed alike, wasn't rough enough for this outfit, which remains the lone Southern Conference team unconquered in league play, injuries, fatigue, and a guaranteed best shot from any conference opponent are just a few of the forces secretly ravaging this team.

You, of course, wouldn't be able to detect a single hint of adversity by watching this group on the court. In their latest outing, Wofford overcame something they know all too well -- a laggard, listless start -- and eventually put away a Samford team they encountered just a week before. However, they did it without starting point guard Eric Garcia, an Aurora, Colo., native that has forged his mark as a vigorous, indispensable staple to this program. 

Starting in his place was John Swinton, a Wando High graduate who hadn't started a game for the Terriers since last season's initial tilt with High Point. The senior from Mt. Pleasant, S.C., contributed to a cause that successfully staged yet another comeback victory. 

Down by as many as ten points in the first half, Wofford shot 50 percent from the floor and found themselves down by a single point at halftime. The Terriers soon found themselves mired in some foul trouble, as Swinton and Derrick Brooks had committed four, and three others -- including a pair of starters, Lee Skinner and Karl Cochran -- had three themselves, all by the under-eight minute timeout of the second half. 

Wofford, though, took advantage of some Bulldog turnovers, scoring sixteen points off them. Karl Cochran, now two games removed from a career night against Chattanooga, provided a bang for the home team with five long distance shots. A contest before, VMI grabbed twice as many offensive boards as the Terriers, but against Samford, the totals were nearly identical.

Again, the Terriers had done it. After notching conference wins by three, four, and five points, respectively, Wofford had put away the Bulldogs by ten points. 

Karl Cochran buried five three-pointers in Saturday's 72-62 win
over Samford.

On Thursday, the Terriers will make the brief cross-state trip to Charleston, as they prepare to encounter The Citadel's 7-9 squad. The Bulldogs, coming off a double-digit setback to Mercer, stand at 2-3 in SoCon play and are helmed by Chuck Driesell, who is in his fifth season as head coach. The Maryland graduate and former assistant went 16-54 in his first four years with The Citadel.

Starting point guard Ashton Moore leads the squad with an average of 17.3 points per game. The Suffolk, Va., native currently maintains a field goal percentage over forty and is 38 percent from behind the three-point arc. Reserve Marshall Harris III adds some increased depth to this spot, as he averages over twenty minutes of play each game.

Warren Sledge is the starter at shooting guard, although he shares much time with freshman Jake Wright, who is averaging about eight points a game. At strong forward, Quinton Marshall is averaging six points and four rebounds a game. The Raleigh, N.C., native is backed by C.J. Bray, another rebounding threat. 

Brian White will get the start at power forward, where he maintains a 58 percent field goal shooting average. P.J. Horgan is the stalwart at center, as he averages nearly fourteen points a game, along with seven rebounds. 

The last time these two teams met, it was early in last year's conference tournament. Wofford defeated the Bulldogs by a score of 68-51, a triumph that helped set the Terriers' tone for the postseason. In this meeting, though, the Terriers are just aiming to play hard and show that everything they have been working on up to this point has paid off.

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