GAMEDAY: Battle for the Pickle Barrel Points on the Line for Men's Basketball at CSU Saturday
The Georgia College men's basketball team (7-10, 3-7 PBC) looks to end a six-game road slide Saturday, Feb. 1 at 3:30 p.m. when they travel to Peach Belt Conference (PBC) West Division foe Columbus State University (10-7, 4-6 PBC). Catch the action on the HomeTeam Country102FM and ESPN 1450AM; GC Hall of Famer Scott MacLeod will bring you the call. Points in the "Battle for the Pickle Barrel" rivalry competition are on the line Saturday. Currently, CSU owns a 5-1 lead.
In a series that dates back to both schools' NAIA days, CSU owns a 42-25 advantage. The teams split last year's action, each team taking wins at home.
LAST TIME OUT FOR THE 'CATS
Georgia College men's basketball's (7-9, 3-6 PBC) bid for a season sweep against Young Harris College (10-5, 4-4 PBC) fell short Jan. 25, as the Bobcats lost 79-71 at YHC Basketball Arena.
The Bobcats battled throughout the contest, but never led after the 16:24 mark of the first half. That being said, YHC struggled to get away from Georgia College, holding double-digit leads on a few brief occasions.
Junior Larrentis Thomas matched his season high with 18 points to lead the Bobcats. The forward kept Georgia College in the game in the first half, netting all but two of his points. Sophomore Terrell Harris scored 17 points off the bench, including 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Seniors Aaron Robinson and Royal Thomas rounded out the double-digit scorers with 15 and 10 points, respectively. Royal Thomas has now scored in double figures for each of the last 10 contests.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS
The Cougars enter the game fourth in the PBC West Division, owning a 4-6 conference mark. CSU has wins in two of their last three, most recently losing Saturday at Georgia Southwestern State University 86-80. The Cougars are fifth in the PBC in scoring, averaging 78.9 points per game and rank sixth in scoring defense (74.4). They are the second-best squad in rebounds (40.6), but need all the extra possessions they can get after turning the ball over a league-high 16.5 times per contest.
Junior guard Kenney Funderburk leads the team in scoring at 15.9 points per game, ranking eighth in the PBC. He is flanked by 11.6 points from B.J. Battle and 10.0 more from freshman of the year candidate R.J. Sessions.
LAST TIME AGAINST CSU
In a tight ballgame that never reached more than a 10-point lead for either team, Georgia College men's basketball (8-15, 4-12 PBC) lost 72-69 at Columbus State University (12-12, 7-10 PBC) Feb. 16, 2013.
A Jermaine Morgan jumper with just 22 seconds left gave Columbus State the 72-69 advantage. The Bobcats had two game-tying attempts from long range in the waning seconds, but were not able to hit either.
Senior Scott Ferguson finished with a team-best 13 points, knocking down both of his three-point tries. He added a team-high in rebounds as well at six.
Junior Joey Bell put in 10 points, his second double-digit performance in the last three games. Classmate Royal Thomas led the bench brigade for Georgia College with 10 points, including 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. He added four rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Head coach Terry Sellers begins his 21st season at the helm of the Bobcat basketball team, owning a 346-231 (.600) record on the GC bench. Sellers picked up his 200th career PBC win against UNC Pembroke Jan. 3, 2013. He could pick up his 350th Georgia College win as early as Feb. 12 at Clayton State University.
CAN I HELP YOU?
Against the College of Coastal Georgia Dec. 22, senior point guard Aaron Robinson tallied an impressive 11 assists, just two off the school record set by Shejdie Childs in the 2006-07 season. The last time a Bobcat had more than 11 assists was Ty Rowland's 12 in the 2008-09 campaign. In the NCAA era of GC men's basketball, only Childs, Rowland and Bryan Harrison have recorded more than 11 assists in a game.
In that game alone, Robinson passed both Keb Burley and Marcus Langston to take ninth in Georgia College history for career assists. Robinson's now stands at 262, ranking 18 behind Harrison and seventh place all-time. At his current rate of 4.2 assists per game, Robinson would pass Harrison in five games, or Feb. 15 at home against Columbus State University.
"FREE" - STYLE
Ryan Blumenthal is 51-for-56 from the free-throw line this season, hitting for a 91.1 percentage. Should this torrid pace hold up for the sophomore, he will edge the school record of 89.5 set by Mike Brown during the 1995-96 season. Brown went 85-for-95 that year. In order to qualify for the percentage mark, a player must average 2.5 attempts per game, and Blumenthal is at 3.3 per contest right now.
Senior guard Royal Thomas continues to show marked improvement over his previous efforts, closing his career with a bang. He already has posted 14 games with 10-plus scoring, where in his previous three seasons he had just six total. He put up 26 against Coastal Georgia, matched that number against North Georgia, and also had his first double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds against Albany State. His 14.7 points per game are 8.7 more per contest than last season, and 5.1 rebounds are 2.4 more than last year.
SHOOTING TELLS THE TALE
To find the success rate for Bobcat men's basketball, just check opponent shooting percentage. Opponents hit 39 percent (170-442) of their shots in Bobcat wins, to 47 percent (270-570) in Georgia College losses. The best opponent shooting percentage of the season came in a loss at UNC Pembroke Jan. 2, where the Braves hit .569 of their shots. The Bobcats' best defensive effort was Nov. 11 against Clark Atlanta at .318.
The Bobcats return home Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. to host No. 12 University of Montevallo.