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10 Questions with Men's Basketball Player Mezie Uzochukwu

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Uzochukwu and his Spartan teammates will return to the hardwood tomorrow afternoon when they face Winthrop in Rock Hill.

Uzochukwu and his Spartan teammates will return to the hardwood tomorrow afternoon when they face Winthrop in Rock Hill.

Nov. 20, 2009

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The USC Upstate men's basketball team had a strong showing on Monday night at Indiana and was led by Mezie Uzochukwu's 14 points and five boards.

Uzochukwu, through the first two games of the season, leads the Spartans in points per game at an even 10. A season ago the Greensboro, N.C., product appeared in 29 games for Upstate, while averaging 6.3 ppg and 3.6 rebounds per game.

Uzochukwu and the rest of the Spartans will travel to Rock Hill, S.C., on Saturday when they face the Winthrop Eagles at 4:00 p.m. Saturday's match-up will be the first meeting between the two schools since Feb. 20, 1984, when the Spartans claimed a 72-63 victory in Rock Hill.

Uzochukwu recently talked with Alex Edwards of about the 2009-10 season as well as his time in Spartanburg.

The Spartans recently played at Nebraska and at Indiana, how do you feel those early season tests will benefit the team this season?
Early season games allow us to see where we are as a team and help us evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of our team. Those games, against teams from the Big 12 and the Big 10, allow us to get better, we have the mentality that we can win those games. With the game plan that the coaching staff puts together, we try to execute that game plan and we feel that we can compete with anyone. The games against Nebraska and Indiana, as well as other schools we will face will have prepared us mentality and physically for our conference season.

Upstate has several big name programs remaining on the schedule, are there any games you are looking forward to more than others?
I would have to go with the game with Miami on Nov. 28. I am excited about all the games on our schedule, but Miami's location makes it an easy choice.

If you are having an off night, how do you keep yourself motivated throughout the game?
Since I am a junior, I know that off nights are going to occur. I just keep my head up and focus on other things such as defense. If I am having a poor shooting night, I will shift my energy to defense so that hopefully I can have an impact on the defensive end while others impact the offensive side.

What is one thing that people may not know about head coach Eddie Payne?
Students and fans may not be aware, but he is a very funny person. He has a funny personality and he tells jokes from time to time. He is a good guy to be around.

What was the deciding factor that brought you to Upstate?
On my recruiting visit, I really liked the coaching staff so that was the biggest thing. Also, being from Greensboro, N.C., it isn't that far away from home, compared to some of the other schools that were recruiting me, so for me it was a no-brainer.

If you were able to spend the day with any athlete, who would you choose? Why?
I would choose Kobe Bryant because of his work ethic. He is one of the best players in the NBA, but his work ethic and determination are something that I admire.

Do you have any pregame superstitions?
There isn't a real significance to it, but prior to every game I will rinse the bottom of my shoes in the sink. I have been doing that since I was in high school, it's just something I do.

What has been your most memorable moment as a student-athlete here at Upstate?
My freshman season, we were playing at Southern Methodist and the game was tied with less than a second left. I hit two free throws and we won the game by a score of 58-56 for our first-ever victory over a D-I opponent in our first season of D-I play.

If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you choose to go? Why?
I would like to Paris, France. I have taken two French courses while I have been here and it seems like a really interesting place. One of my teammates, Cedric Koffi, is from there and he talks about it a lot and I would like to see what it is like.

If your teammates were to use one adjective to describe you, what would they choose? Why?
They probably would say that I am unique. I am a laid-back person off of the court and I do my best to make others laugh and feel comfortable. Also, when someone on the team wants to talk about anything, I am always there to listen and try to help them out.

USC Upstate Men's Basketball
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