2010-11 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. USC Upstate

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Virginia Tech is finished with the difficult part of their non-conference
schedule, and now they’ll look to pick up a couple of relatively easy home
victories before ACC play heats up on January 8. This Thursday they’ll host
South Carolina Upstate in Cassell Coliseum at 2pm.

The Spartans are 2-9 on the season, and are 1-1 in Atlantic Sun play. They
have defeated East Tennessee State and UNC Asheville. They have played a
difficult schedule and performed well enough defensively for most of the season,
but they haven’t been able to score. They are also a very young team, with six
freshmen playing major minutes.

USC Upstate Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G Josh Chavis 5-9 173 Sr. 5.9 1.3
G Tony Dukes 6-2 175 So. 6.6 1.2
F Torrey Craig 6-5 200 Fr. 11.7 7.0
F Mezie Uzochukwu 6-5 215 Sr. 5.5 3.1
F Babatunde Olumuyiwa 6-7 230 Fr. 7.2 4.5

Four other freshmen also come off the bench: Shane Porchea (6-4, 205),
Chandler Hash (6-1, 175), Marquis Sloan (6-1, 185) and Ricardo Glenn (6-7, 254,
r-Fr.). This is perhaps the youngest basketball team the Hokies will face this
year. When you mix their lack of experience with their small conference talent
level, this should not be a difficult game for Virginia Tech.

The Spartans will also play Chalmers Rogers (6-7, 215, Jr.) and Carter Cook
(6-5, 220, Jr.). Head coach Eddie Payne will use a lot of players to keep his
team fresh. Only one player, freshman wing Torrey Craig, averages in double
figures, and overall this is a team that has struggled offensively all season.

In fact, USC Upstate has scored more than 67 points just once this season, a
double overtime win against UNC Asheville. They have played five games against
power conference teams (Michigan, UVA, South Carolina, NC State and Auburn), and
they have averaged a total of 48.8 points in those games. Their highest scoring
output against those teams was 60 points against NC State.

As a team, the Spartans shoot just 35.2% from the field and 29.5% from
three-point range. They attempt just over 25 three-pointers per game, so this is
a team that relies heavily on their outside jumpers. If they get hot from the
outside, they can stay in a game. However, if they are missing their jumpers,
they don’t have the size on the inside to score in a more traditional fashion.

The Spartans have shot over 40% from the field on just three occasions this
year, and they are 2-1 in those games, with their only loss coming to Virginia.
They don’t have the size and power on the inside to compensate for a bad
shooting night, so the Hokies have to stay focused on preventing open looks at
the basket.

USC Upstate does play pretty good defense, despite their size. Opponents are
averaging 71.4 points per game, and that’s a pretty good number despite the
number of freshmen who are seeing the court, and their lack of height on the
interior.

Equally important for the Spartans is their ability to protect the
basketball. They average 12.7 turnovers per game, again a good number
considering their overall talent level and the schedule they have played.

Virginia Tech should be able to use their superior talent, athleticism and
experience to pull out a pretty easy win. USC Upstate has lost by an average of
20 points per game to the five power conference teams they have faced. The
closest they have come to beating one of those teams was a 14-point loss on the
road to a bad Auburn team. If the Hokies have any trouble in this game, it will
be their own doing.

Tip-off for the USC Upstate game will be at 2pm on Thursday. The game will
not be televised.

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