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Upstate Opens A-Sun Play Monday Against Stetson

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Chalmers Rogers and the Spartans look to battle Stetson in an early A-Sun match-up.

Chalmers Rogers and the Spartans look to battle Stetson in an early A-Sun match-up.

Nov. 29, 2009

Game Notes | ASun.TV | Live Audio | Gametracker

Spartanburg, S.C. - After playing four of its first five games of the season on the road, Upstate returns home Monday night at 7:00 to open A-Sun play against Stetson. Upstate is looking for its first win of the season after losing three games by eight points or less. Stetson enters the game with a 2-3 record. The early A-Sun match-up pits teams who were picked to finish in the bottom half of the league in the preseason polls, and could be key as to where each finishes in the regular season standings. Stetson leads the all-time series by a slim 2-1 mark. Stetson claimed a 72-64 victory in DeLand, Fla., on CSS-TV in 2008 in the first meeting between the two schools. The Hatters took a 56-50 win last year in DeLand before Upstate claimed its first win in the series with a 54-53 victory in Spartanburg in early February.

Fans not in attendance at the game can watch the action live for a fee online at www.ASun.TV. Fans can listen live for free and receive live statistical updates via Gametracker by visiting www.upstatespartans.com, the official Upstate Athletics Web site.

Looking Back At Miami
Trailing 7-5, Miami used a 20-4 run to open a 14-point lead with just under seven minutes to play in the first half to gain control of the game and went on for a 70-41 victory over Upstate in Coral Gables, Fla., Saturday afternoon. The 41 points scored by Upstate was its third-lowest output since joining the ranks of NCAA Division I in 2007. Upstate played well early, forcing Miami into turnovers in each of its first two possessions. But, after five minutes of solid play, Upstate began to turn the ball over and miss shots, while Miami used Upstate's miscues, all 14 of them in the first half, to go on its 20-4 spurt to put the game away. The Hurricanes led by as many as 21 in the half before settling for a 38-20 lead at halftime. Upstate scored the first four points of the second half to cut the deficit to 14, but Miami regained control and increased the lead to 32 points before taking the 29-point win. Nick Schneiders, who did not have a rebound or blocked shot in the first half, finished with a team-high 11 points to go along with three boards and a block. Caleb Palkert, a freshman out of Excelsior, Minn., finished with a career-high seven points, two rebounds and a blocked shot for the Spartans.

Scouting Stetson
Stetson enters Monday night's game at Upstate with a 2-3 overall record and, like Upstate, will play its A-Sun opener. The Hatters opened the season with a 70-65 victory over Averett before losing three straight to Florida (74-46), Florida State (80-38) and Charleston Southern (80-64). Stetson claimed an 85-67 win over Palm Beach Atlantic Wednesday night.

Stetson averages just over 60 points per game, scoring at a 60.6 ppg clip. The Hatters have not shot the ball well, hitting 35.6 percent from the field, 28.7 percent from the three-point arc and 61.7 percent from the free throw line. While the Hatters haven't shot the ball well, they have held opponents to low percentages as well. Opponents have shot just 43.9 percent from the field and 28 percent from three-point land.

Stetson plays solid team defense, but does not have a lot of numbers when it comes to steals or blocks. The Hatters have just 26 steals on the year and have blocked just 14 shots. They have, though, forced 71 turnovers in five games this season with their defensive effort. Opponents have forced the Hatters into 75 turnovers on the year.

Individually, three Hatters average in double figures for Stetson. Tyshaw Patterson leads the way at 15 points per game. He shoots 48 percent from the field and has converted 21-of-24 free throws on the year. He tops the Hatters with eight three-pointers. A.J. Smith ranks second on the team at 13.6 ppg. He also tops the club with nine assists this season. Ridge Graham averages 10.4 ppg and leads Stetson with six rebounds on the year. He has grabbed 13 offensive rebounds out of the 30 he has pulled down this season. Beyond Patterson, Smith and Graham, Stetson gets very little in the way of scoring from anyone else. The next highest scoring players on the team, Mark Lohuis and Brandon Williams, each average 4.2 points per outing. Graeme Radford is a solid role player. Depsite averaging 2.4 points per game, he has blocked nine shots and averages 4.8 rebounds per contest.

Derek Waugh is in his 10th season at the helm of the Stetson program in his only head coaching stint of his career. He owns a 107-150 record. Prior to his stint as head coach at Stetson, Waugh served as an assistant coach at the school for three years prior to being elevated to the top position in 2000. He was a standout student-athlete at Furman, graduating from the Paladin program in 1993. He was a first team All-Southern Conference selection and earned GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors.

Palkert Looks To Become Bigger Factor
Freshman post player Caleb Palkert had an active debut at Nebraska on Nov. 14. He took six shots in the game and looked to provide Upstate an option at the power forward position. However, he never really caught fire over the next three games. At Miami on Saturday, though, he had the best game of his young collegiate career. He finished with career highs in points (7), rebounds (2) and assists (2). His development could be a factor in how successful the Spartans are this year if he is able to provide quality depth in the post.

Home For A Change
After playing four of its first five games on the road, Upstate returns home Monday to face Stetson. The Spartans will play three of its next four games in the friendly confines of the Hodge Center. Upstate will hit the road to play at Wichita State Saturday, but will return home to face Florida Gulf Coast (Dec. 14) and Winthrop (Dec. 16).

Schneiders Closes In On Blocked Shots Record
Barring something unforeseen, Upstate center Nick Schneiders should break the Upstate all-time blocked shots record prior to the start of exams in early December. He currently has 131 blocked shots, five shy of the all-time mark of 136 held by Kevin Harrington. He averaged over two blocked shots per game last season and has blocked 14 shots in the first four games of this season. If he maintains his 2.8 blocked shots per game average, he could break the record at Wichita State Saturday evening.

Where's The Bang From Way Downtown?
Upstate entered Saturday's game at Miami shooting 28.8 percent from behind the three-point arc. The Spartans finished the game against the Hurricanes just 2-of-15 from downtown, lowering the team percentage to 25.9 percent for the year. With a potent inside attack with Nick Schneiders and Mezie Uzochukwu, Upstate desperately needs outside production from the guards, especially from behind the arc. Josh Chavis is the leading candidate to lead Upstate out of its doldrums from the outside. He led the Spartans last year with 59 three-pointers and a three-point field goal percentage of 33.3 percent.

Schneiders Records Double-Double & Career High
Upstate's 7-3 center Nick Schneiders turned in quite a performance in Upstate's home opener against UNC Greensboro. He finished the game with a career-high 23 points and tallied his third career double-double with 12 rebounds, one off of his career high. He has had a double-double in each of his last two seasons, tallying 10 points and 11 rebounds against Campbell on Jan. 24 last year, while recording his first double-double with 13 points and 10 boards against Mercer late in the 2007-08 season. All three of his double-doubles have come at home in the Hodge Center.

Schneiders Leads The Way
No doubt about it, Nick Schneiders is the main shot blocking threat for Upstate. He leads Upstate, and the A-Sun, with 13 blocks on the year, averaging 2.8 per game. Chalmers Rogers ranks second on the team with three blocked shots, swatting two at Winthrop, while Caleb Palkert and Mezie Uzochukwu each have one on the year.

Uzochukwu Stepping Up His Play, Leadership
Junior forward Mezie Uzochukwu, a business finance major, has asserted himself as a solid second offensive option for Upstate and has asserted himself as a leader on the team. He has reached double figures in two games this season, finishing with a season-high 14 points at Indiana on Nov. 16 and tallying 13 at Winthrop on Nov. 21. He currently ranks second on the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 9.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

 
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