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Upstate Looks To Take Flight Against Ospreys

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Pat Posey had 13 points against Kennesaw State Sunday afternoon.

Pat Posey had 13 points against Kennesaw State Sunday afternoon.

Jan. 20, 2010

Game Notes | ASun.TV | Live Audio | Live Stats

Spartanburg, S.C. - USC Upstate will look to make it two in a row when it travels to Jacksonville, Fla., to take on North Florida Thursday night at 7:45 in the UNF Arena. The Spartans enter the game with a 2-15 overall record and a 2-6 mark in the A-Sun following its thrilling 66-62 overtime victory over Kennesaw State Sunday afternoon in Spartanburg. Placing five players in double figures Sunday, Upstate will hit the road with confidence. North Florida enters the game with a 9-10 overall record and a 4-5 mark in the A-Sun. UNF dropped a 62-55 decision against Jacksonville on Monday. Upstate owns a 7-4 lead in the series which dates back to Jan. 31, 1998. The Spartans also own a 2-1 edge in the series since joining the A-Sun in 2007. The teams split their season series last year taking care of business at home.

Fans not in attendance at the game can watch the action live online for a fee at www.ASun.tv. Fans can listen to the action live online for free at www.upstatespartans.com, the official Upstate Athletics Web site, and receive live statistical updates on North Florida's official Athletics Web site at www.unfospreys.com.

Looking Back At Kennesaw State
Ryan LeGates hit two key three-pointers, one to tie the game in regulation and one in overtime, and Mezie Uzochukwu finished with a double-double as Upstate took a thrilling 66-62 victory Sunday afternoon in the Hodge Center. It looked as if Uzochukwu had actually delivered a win for Upstate at the buzzer in regulation, but the shot was called off by the referees and the game was sent into overtime. Upstate entered overtime having missed all nine of its free throw attempts, but converted 4-of-5 from the charity stripe to take the win. Legates' three-pointer with 1:33 to play in the extra period broke a 60-60 tie and gave Upstate all it would need for the win. He finished with a career-high 11 points to lead the way for Upstate. Pat Posey also chipped in with 13 points. Uzochukwu finished with 13 points and a career-high 12 rebounds to record his third double-double in the last five games.

Scouting North Florida
North Florida enters Thursday night's game with Upstate as one of the top stories in the A-Sun this season. After posting an 8-22 overall record and a 6-14 mark in the A-Sun last year, the Ospreys are battling near .500 for the season. UNF stands 9-10 overall and 4-5 in the A-Sun this season.

UNF opened the season with a 1-7 record, dropping non-conference games to Notre Dame, Illinois State, Alabama, Northwestern and Marquette. The Ospreys also dropped back-to-back A-Sun games to Campbell and ETSU during the stretch. However, UNF turned the season around by beating Canisius, New Orleans and Southern Miss to win the Southern Mississippi Christmas Classic. It tipped off a five-game winning streak and a stretch where the Ospreys have won eight of its last 10 contests, including four-of-six in league play.

Averaging 58.5 points per game, UNF is not a high-scoring team. In fact, the Ospreys do not have a player who averages in double figures. Jerron Granberry leads the team in scoring at 9.2 points per game. While no player averages in double figures, seven Ospreys average four points or more per game. Andy Diaz ranks second on the team at 8.2 ppg while leading the team in rebounding at 4.6 rebounds per outing. Stan Januska is third on the team in scoring at 8.7 ppg. Matt Sauey has been solid, averaging 8.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, while swatting a team-high 29 blocked shots on the year.

The Ospreys shoot 43 percent from the field and 35 percent from the three-point arc on the year.

Matthew Driscoll is in his first season as a head coach at North Florida and his fifth overall. The 1992 graduate of Slippery Rock has infused the Osprey program with energy. He owns a 35-87 record in five years as a head coach. He came to UNF after a highly successful stint as the top assistant at Baylor from 2003-09. Prior to his stint at Baylor, he spent seven months on the coaching staff at Valaraiso. He also spent time as an assistant at Clemson and Wyoming. His first head coaching job came at LaRoche College from 1993-97, tallying a 26-77 record.

Uzochukwu Says Give Me A Double
Junior forward Mezie Uzochukwu recorded a pair of double-doubles as a freshman, claiming his second double dip on Feb. 21, 2008, at Campbell, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He went his entire sophomore season and the first 12 games of this year without a double-double. But, he has caught fire lately and has recorded three double-doubles in the last five games, including 13 points and a career-high 12 boards in the 66-62 win over Kennesaw State on Jan. 17.

A Division I First
It took the better part of two and a half years to get there, but for the first time in the Division I era, Upstate placed five players in double figures in its 66-62 overtime win against Kennesaw State on Jan. 17. Pat Posey and Mezie Uzochukwu each had 13 points, Josh Chavis and Ryan LeGates each posted 11, and Nick Schneiders had 10. Prior to Friday's game, Upstate had posted four players in double figures on four occasions, including Jan. 9 at Lipscomb.

Overtime Becoming Routine With Upstate, Kennesaw State
The January 17th meeting between Upstate and Kennesaw State was another overtime thriller that has become the norm when the two schools meet on the hardwood. The Spartans and Owls have played to overtime in three of the last six meetings and six times in 21 games. Upstate stands 2-4 in overtime games with Kennesaw State, but has claimed the last two wins.

Schneiders Reaches Rebound Milestone
With nine rebounds Sunday afternoon against Kennesaw State, Upstate center Nick Schneiders topped the 500 career rebound mark and currently ranks 13th in program history with 501 career boards. He is also approaching a second milestone while trying to top 200 blocked shots. Though he already owns the career record for blocks with 177 at Upstate, he needs just 23 to reach the 200 plateau.

Chavis Solid With The Ball
Two weeks ago, junior point guard Josh Chavis' name was nowhere to be found on the A-Sun's assist-to-turnover ration ranking. However, he has burst onto the scene by taking care of the rock and currently ranks fourth in the conference in ATR. He tops the Spartans with 57 assists. He has totaled 21 more assists than turnovers on the year.

Schneiders Tops The A-Sun, Ranks Nationally In Blocks
No doubt about it, Nick Schneiders is the main shot-blocking threat for Upstate. He leads Upstate, and the A-Sun, with 60 blocks on the year, averaging 3.5 per game. That figure puts him in a tie for eighth in the nation. Caleb Palkert is second on the team and ranks 14th in the A-Sun with 12 blocks, while Chalmers Rogers has swatted seven.

Close, But No Cigar
Upstate certainly has put itself in position to win games this season, including a pair against marquee-named opponents. However, the Spartans stand 2-15 on the year, though Upstate has played much better than the record would reflect. The Spartans have lost seven games by nine points or less, including four by six points or less. Upstate has lost by nine against Winthrop (Dec. 16) and at Arizona State (Dec. 23), eight at Indiana (Nov. 16), six against UNC Greensboro (Nov. 24), four against Florida Gulf Coast (Dec. 14), three at Winthrop (Nov. 21) and against Mercer (Jan. 15), and one against ETSU (Jan. 4).

Upstate Plays Tough Non-Conference Schedule
Anyone who has followed the Upstate basketball team since its move to NCAA Division I in 2007 knows that the Spartans play a very tough non-conference schedule. In 2007-08, the non-conference schedule was ranked as the 20th-toughest in the nation. In 2008-09, the non-conference slate was ranked 29th. This season, the Spartans' non-conference schedule is the 15th-toughest in all of Division I. A-Sun schools are notorious for playing difficult non-conference schedules with five in the top 20-toughest non-conference schedules and six in the top 40.

 
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