VMI 111, KENTUCKY 103
Behind a career-best 30-point performance by senior guard Travis Holmes, VMI scored its first win over an SEC program in 32 years, stunning Kentucky, 111-103 in front of 22,579 stunned fans at Rupp Arena on Friday evening. The Keydets (1-0) matched a facility record with 14 three-pointers, including five by sophomore gunner Austin Kenon. Kentucky (0-1) got a valiant effort from junior Jodie Meeks, who poured in a career-best 39 points in leading a massive second-half comeback. After holding a 57-47 advantage at halftime, VMI extended the lead to 23 points on a three-pointer by freshman Keith Gabriel with 14:10 remaining. After the teams traded buckets to make it 85-62, Meeks led a 35-10 run over the next ten minutes, giving Kentucky their first lead of the game at 97-95 with 4:52 remaining. It would be the Wildcats’ only lead of the night.
Following Ramon Harris’ layup to give Kentucky the lead, the Keydets answered quickly with a jumper by senior Willie Bell, knotting the score at 97. Kenon then knocked in his fifth three-pointer of the night, a dagger from the right corner, to give VMI the lead for good. The win is VMI’s first against an SEC program since defeating Tennessee 81-75 in the NCAA East Regionals on March 13, 1976. It is also the Keydets’ first victory in the series against Kentucky since 1922, when the Keydets scored a 37-32 decision. It was a picture-perfect start for VMI, forcing seven turnovers in the first four minutes, running out to a 17-5 advantage at the first media timeout. The Keydets hit seven of their first eight three-pointers in the opening ten minutes and gained their largest lead in the first half on a pair of free throws by Willie Bell at the 10:21 mark, doubling up the Wildcats 42-21. Kentucky cut into the lead with a 21-9 run, as an expectant Rupp Arena crowd tried to will their Wildcats back into a 51-42 game with 3:18 remaining in the opening half. But the Keydets answered with five-straight points by freshman Keith Gabriel, who poured in 20 points on the night.
Holding a ten-point advantage at halftime, the Keydets had already forced 16 Wildcat turnovers, leading to 23 VMI points. Travis Holmes had a game-high 20 points at the intermission, followed closely by Meeks’ 19 markers. Fans that were looking for a Wildcat rally to open the second half instead saw the Keydets go on a 26-13 run to open up an 83-60 advantage on a Gabriel three-pointer. Kentucky then began to rally, as Perry Stevenson poured in six straight points to jump-start the comeback. Meeks then poured in 12 points in just over three minutes to cut the advantage to 90-84, before Harris hit back-to-back field goals to give the Wildcats their short-lived lead. Down the stretch, VMI continued their solid free-throw shooting, ending the evening with a 77% clip from the line. The Keydets shot 45% from beyond the arc, including 53% in the first half, and 49% from the floor for the game.
The Keydets had six players in double figures for the night, with Travis Holmes and Gabriel leading the way. Senior Willie Bell had 12 points and eight rebounds in the win, while senior Chavis Holmes contributed 16 points, two rebounds and six assists. Kentucky got 20 points and 14 rebounds from Perry Stevenson behind Meeks’ standout performance, while Harris (16 pts.) and Darius Miller (12 pts.) rounded out the double-figure scoring.
The Keydets return to action on Sunday afternoon, traveling to Charlottesville to take on Virginia at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic.
RADFORD 74, BREVARD 55
Senior Kenny Thomas (Richmond, Va./Highland Springs) led all five Radford starters in double figures with a game-high 20 points as the Highlanders cruised by Brevard College 74-55 in their men’s basketball season opener Friday evening at Peters Hall. In its first appearance at Peters Halls since Feb. 24, 1981, Radford pushed the lead to as many as 34 points at the 17:25 mark of the second half, when Thomas was fouled on a made three-pointer from the top of the arc. His free throw gave Radford a 51-17 lead. Thomas connected on 7-of-13 tries from the field, including 5-of-7 attempts from long range. He knocked down three of his treys in the first six minutes of the contest. Radford’s Martell McDuffy (Laurel, Md./DeMatha) contributed 13 points, while preseason all-conference selection Joey Lynch-Flohr (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax) and Artsiom Parakhouski (Minsk, Belarus) each added 11 and Amir Johnson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Quaker Valley) tallied 10 points and six steals. Lynch-Flohr led the Highlanders on the glass with eight rebounds.
In the first 10 minutes of the game, the Highlanders were 10-of-16 from the floor, pushing the lead to as many as 14 on an up-and-under bucket from senior Eric Hall (Greensboro, N.C./Ben L. Smith) at the 10:58 mark, which extended a 14-2 Radford run. Radford held Brevard to a scoring drought of more than seven minutes midway through the first half, and extended the lead to 20 on a McDuffy three-pointer from the right wing with 5:24 left. The lead ballooned to 28 points just before halftime when Phillip Martin (Roanoke, Va./Roanoke Catholic) found Johnson at the free throw line, who took it all the way to the basket and laid it in to give Radford a 44-16 lead with 41 seconds remaining. Brevard got a 23-point effort from Jonathan Whitson to lead all scorers. Whitson hit on nine of his 15 tries from the floor, and scored 10 of Brevard’s 17 first-half points. His three-pointer with 1:10 remaining in the contest trimmed the Tornados’ deficit to 18, the smallest since the 5:24 mark of the first half.
Radford shot 58.6 percent in the first 20 minutes of action, including 4-of-6 from downtown before finishing the contest with a 48.1 percent clip overall. Defensively, the Highlanders held Brevard to 37.7 percent from the floor and forced 24 turnovers, while recording 13 steals and five blocks. Whitson also collected eight rebounds to lead the Tornados.
The Highlanders host Bridgewater (Va.) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
UNC ASHEVILLE 75, BELMONT ABBEY 63
Reid Augst scored 19 points, while John Williams added a career-high 16 points to lead UNC Asheivlle to a 75-63 season-opening win over Belmont Abbey Friday night at Justice Center. The Bulldogs (1-0) won their season opener for the third straight season. The Crusaders (0-1) were led by Richard Barbee with 18 points. UNC Asheville was also aided by junior forward Jason Ridenhour who scored a career-high 12 points. The Mooresville native went 6-of-8 from the field and had a blocked shot. Augst was 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe. Williams went 7-of-11 from the field and collected a team-high eight rebounds.
The game was close in the first half as the Crusaders trailed 30-28 with four minutes to go before intermission. Augst led Asheville on a 10-3 run to end the half as the Bulldogs build a 40-31 halftime lead. The senior forward scored eight of the home team’s 10 points during the run to give Asheville a working margin. Augst had 16 points in the first half and went 6-of-7 from the field. Barbee kept Belmont-Abbey close with 11 points. The Bulldogs held off several Crusader charges early in the second half before building a 17-point lead midway through the half. Ridenhour was 4-of-5 from the field in the second half. The Crusaders could get no closer than the final margin.
Freshman guard JP Primm had six assists and three steals for the Bulldogs. Donovan Jones had five assists and collected six rebounds. Jonathan Jackson had 10 points for Belmont Abbey. Chris McDowell just missed a double-double with eight points and 13 rebounds. The Crusaders out-rebounded Asheville, 43-37. However, the Bulldogs limited the Crusaders to just 35 percent shooting (21-of-60) from the field.
The Bulldogs play again this Sunday afternoon against Montreat starting at 4:30 p.m.
WINTHROP 67, NORTH GREENVILLE 42
Sophomore center Charles Corbin scored 14 points to lead Winthrop to a season-opening 67-42 win over North Greenville Friday night. Winthrop (1-0), winners of four straight Big South Conference championships, began its adjustment to life without a senior-laden team in its season-opener Friday night. The new-look started slow before pulling away midway through the second half.
Sophomore Byron Faison (Sumter, S.C.) and junior transfer Raymond Davis (Atlanta, Ga.) each added 10 points for the Eagles. Leading 35-24 with 15:04 left in the second half, Winthrop went on a 21-6 run to break open the game. North Greenville, led by Paul Harrison’s 14 points, stayed close throughout much of the game until the Eagles pulled away midway through the second half. The Eagles took a 26-17 lead at the half and were led by Davis’ 8 first-half points. Winthrop protected the ball well as it dished out 17 turnovers compared to 10 turnovers. Reggie Middleton, a freshman from Augusta, Ga., had five assists in his Eagles debut.
LIBERTY 97, MONTREAT 77
Seth Curry had a banner night, scoring 23 points and tying a Vines Center record with seven thefts as the Liberty Flames (1-0) defeated the Montreat Cavaliers (1-2) Friday night, 97-77, in front 5,198 raucous fans. The win marks the first season-opening win for the Flames since they topped Tusculum, 84-58, on Nov. 17, 2000, inside the Vines Center. Curry’s seven steals tied a Vines Center record that was originally set by Delawn Grandison on Jan. 7, 1999 against Tusculum and was last achieved by Maurice Watkins on Jan. 15, 2001 against Charleston Southern. Curry becomes one of seven players to record seven steals inside Liberty’s home edifice.
The Flames sprinted out to a 15-3 lead when Brolin Floyd nailed a three-point bucket from the corner at 13:28. Making his first collegiate appearance, Curry scored Liberty’s first five points and seven of the Flames’ first 12 during the run. Montreat managed one field goal by Timmy Harper at the 17:53 mark, before being held without a field goal until the 10:18 mark, when Seth Moore tallied a bucket in the paint. By that time, Liberty had extended its advantage to 21-6. The Cavaliers were able to cut the deficit to 10 points, 34-24, via an 18-13 advantage, capped by a Vincent Dombrowski three-point bucket at 3:45. Liberty quickly extended the lead back to 15 points, 39-24, courtesy of five straight points by Floyd. A trey from the corner at 2:34 capped the mini surge. Liberty closed out the half on a 9-5 run, capped by an Anthony Smith bucket as the half expired. The Flames went into the break with a 48-29 lead.
The Flames were led in the opening stanza with 14 points by Curry, followed by 10 points by Floyd. Liberty connected on 42.9 percent (18-of-42) from the floor and 33.3 percent (5-of-15) from beyond the arc. Montreat shot 33.3 percent (10-of-30) from the floor and 16.7 percent (2-of-12) from beyond the arc in the first period. The Cavaliers came out of the break on an 11-5 spurt, capped by a MJ Njoku bucket at the 16:25 mark, cutting the score to 55-40. Liberty then reeled off seven straight points, taking a 20-point advantage, 60-40, after two free throws by Kyle Ohman at 15:36. The difference between the teams did not change much the rest of the contest, as Liberty finished with the 20-point win, 97-77. The Flames finished the night connecting on 47.8 percent (33-of-69) from the floor and 46.2 percent (12-of-26) from three-point range. Montreat tallied a 40.6 percent (28-of-69) success rate from the field and 25 percent (7-of-28) from beyond the arc.
Smith led the Flames with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, while moving into 15th place on Liberty’s all-time scoring list, passing Eric Gordon (1,154). Smith pulled down a team-high nine rebounds in the victory. Floyd added 15 points and Ohman chipped in 14 points, as every player who appeared for the Flames tallied at least two points. Njoku led Montreat with a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds, while Terrell Mosley added 11 points and Seth Moore chipped in 10 in the losing cause.
Liberty returns to action on Tuesday, opening conference play at UNC Asheville. The game will be played as part of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon and will be broadcast on ESPN. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.
VIRGINIA TECH 65, GARDNER-WEBB 62
Aaron Linn’s 27-footer bounced just off the mark Friday night at the buzzer, as Gardner-Webb’s upset bid at Virginia Tech fell short, 65-62. The Runnin’ Bulldogs (0-1) trailed by 10 points with 5:34 to play, 63-53, but went on a methodic 7-0 run over the next three-plus minutes to cut the Hokies’ lead to 63-60 on Anton Silver’s three pointer with 1:56 left. GWU’s Grayson Flittner stole the ball on Virginia Tech’s next possession, but the Bulldogs missed a pair of layups in close on the ensuing possession – and Tech regained control of the basketball.
A steal inside by Auryn MacMillan with 45 seconds left gave Gardner-Webb another shot to pull closer, and Aaron Linn connected on a pair of free throws with 24 ticks left to make the score 63-62. Malcolm Delany was fouled, and made both free throws for the Hokies to put the hosts back up by three – but Gardner-Webb would have plenty of time to attempt to tie the game. Flittner worked himself open after a timeout for a long three with 12 seconds left, but the shot was just off the mark – and Flittner’s offensive rebound and second trey attempt was blocked seconds later. Virginia Tech was fouled, but Delaney missed the free throw with 4.0 seconds left – allowing Linn to grab the rebound and race up court with enough time to get off a good look at the basket. The shot barely missed, sending a resounding sigh of relief through the home crowd at Cassell Coliseum.
Virginia Tech (1-0) led 40-26 at the half, but could never put the Bulldogs away. GWU fell behind by 18 after a series of missed shots led to easy Tech buckets early in the second half, but a zone defense seemed to tighten the Hokies’ offense, and allowed Gardner-Webb to slowly creep within striking distance. The ‘Dogs got within single digits with more than seven minutes to play, and didn’t let the Hokies’ lead bulge to more than 10 points the rest of the way. Flittner paced Gardner-Webb offensively, scoring 21 points (17 in the first half) on 5-of-14 shooting from deep. The Sharpsville, Ind., native also hauled in a career-high nine rebounds and had three steals in 40 minutes of action. Linn added 13 points, six rebounds and three assists – and GWU got 12 points apiece from Auryn MacMillan (nine rebounds) and Silver.
Gardner-Webb shot just 36.4 percent for the game (24-for-66), but held Virginia Tech to 38.7 percent in what proved to be a defensive struggle at times. GWU held Virginia Tech to just 29.6 percent in the second half (8-for-27), and 2-for-12 from deep. The much smaller Bulldogs proved feisty on the glass, out-rebounding the tall, athletic Hokies by a 44-38 margin. True freshman Joshua Henley, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound forward, led all players on the boards with 10 caroms (all defensive). Gardner-Webb was victimized by 18 turnovers, which Virginia Tech turned into 24 points (16 fast break points). Jeff Allen and A.D. Vassallo led Virginia Tech . 19 points, with Allen scoring 17 in the opening half. Delaney added 15 points, but shot just 4-of-14 from the floor. Allen added nine rebounds and Vassallo had six assists in the game.
Gardner-Webb will travel to face Longwood in a non-conference test on Tuesday, November 18 at 7 pm ET in Farmville, Va.
IOWA 68, CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 48
The Iowa Hawkeyes (1-0, 0-0) used a 20-4 run early in the first half to race to an 11-point lead en route to a, 68-48, victory over Charleston Southern (0-1, 0-0) on Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa was led in scoring by freshman Matt Gatens, who posted all 15 of his points in the first half. The Buccaneers closed the first half on a 9-2 run, fueled by sophomore guard Jamarco Warren to close to 29-25 and just a four-point deficit. Warren ultimately led all scorers in the game, finishing with 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting, which included a perfect 4-of-4 from three-point range.
Although the Bucs were able to slow Gatens after halftime, the Hawkeyes were able to adjust nicely to open the second half and went on a 14-4 run to widen the gap to 14 points. The 14-point deficit was the closest the Bucs would get after the early second half spurt, as Iowa built the lead to as many as 23 points, before ultimately winning by 20. Gatens, a freshman from Iowa City, paced the Hawks in his first game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa also got 10 points each from Anthony Tucker and Jake Kelly.
Preseason All-Big South selection Omar Carter led the Bucs in shots, but finished second in scoring, settling for 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Transfer Billy Blackmon also tallied six points for the Buccaneers as did freshman Kelvin Martin in his first start for CSU. The Buccaneers played without point guard Tovi Bailey, who missed the game due to a death in the family. With the loss the Bucs fall to 0-4 all-time against the Big Ten conference, with previous losses to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. This was their first matchup with Iowa.
The Buccaneers will play their first home game of the season at Buccaneer Field House against Furman on Monday night at 7:30 pm.
DUQUESNE 84, HIGH POINT 55
The High Point University men's basketball team fell in their 2008-09 season opener to Duquesne, 84-55, on Friday night in the Palumbo Center. The Panthers (0-1) struggled through a sluggish opening half before battling the Dukes (1-0) much more evenly in the second period. Junior Eugene Harris scored 15 points to lead HPU while Duquesne got 21 points from Damian Saunders. Duquesne used an early 24-3 run to seize control of the tempo. HPU committed 17 first half turnovers that resulted in 20 points for the Dukes. David Campbell drilled a three-pointer at the 7:24 mark of the first half to snap an eight minute scoring drought for the Panthers. High Point trailed 43-15 at the break.
The two teams fought back and forth in the second half. The Panthers turned the tables a bit in the second half forcing 15 turnovers by the Dukes while tallying just eight miscues of their own. For the game, High Point shot 35 percent from the floor while Duquesne connected at a 52 percent clip. The Panthers netted eight three-pointers in the contest led by three from Harris. The Dukes posted a 42-24 advantage in rebounding and the two squads combined for 49 turnovers on the night. The Panthers made 11 of 12 free throws (91 percent) in the contest. Seven players made their collegiate debuts for the Panthers in the contest. David Singleton and Steadman Short earned starting assignments in their career openers. Nine different players got in the scoring column for HPU on the night.
High Point next returns to the hardwood on Thursday in their home at the Millis Center against Atlanta Christian College at 7 p.m. HPU is 28-2 at home the last two seasons and have also won 19 consecutive non-conference home contests.