GAME NOTES: The Charleston Southern Buccaneers make their first postseason appearance since 1997 as they visit the Southern Miss Golden Eagles for the first round of the 2013 NIT at Reed Green Coliseum.
The winner of this game will advance to take on the fifth-seeded Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the round of 16.
The Bucs won the Big South regular season title as they finished 12-4 in league action. However, they were upset by Liberty in the tournament championship game, 89-78, which ruined their dreams of an NCAA Tournament berth. Coach Barclay Radebaugh has led the school to its best back-to-back seasons in almost 30 years with 19 wins in each of the last two seasons. As a team, the Buccaneers are second in the Big South in scoring with 73.9 points per game while allowing just 66.6. CSU is connecting on 42.4 percent from the field, but is holding the opposition to just 41.2 percent, which is third in the league.
In the Big South Championship game loss, Saah Nimley led CSU with 18 points while Jeremy Sexton scored 17 and sophomore guard Arlon Harper had 14. Senior forward Mathiang Muo and junior guard Sheldon Strickland added 12 and 10 points, respectively. Nimley (15.7 ppg), who was named First Team All-Big South, has been an extremely impressive scorer for the Bucs this season. He also adds 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per tilt. Harper chimes in with 15.2 ppg thanks to some very accurate shooting from beyond the arc (.389) while Paul Gombwer grabs 6.3 rpg.
Donnie Tyndale's squad played very well during his first season with the program as it defeated the likes of Western Kentucky, Georgia and Denver along with all of its league rivals other than Memphis. The Golden Eagles were considered a bubble team late in the season and could have punched their own ticket to the Big Dance, but fell, 91-79, in overtime to the Tigers in the C- USA Championship game.
Daveon Boardingham tallied 19 points and eight rebounds for the Golden Eagles, who had their bubble burst after the loss. Dwayne Davis had 16 points, while Jonathan Mills added 15 points and a game-high 17 boards in the loss.
Although they didn't make it to the NCAA Tournament, the Golden Eagles have a balanced attack led by Davis' 16.1 ppg. Mills is one of the conference's top rebounders with 7.4 boards per tilt and Neil Watson delivers 4.9 assists and 1.8 steals per contest from the point guard slot. The Golden Eagles are also leading the C-USA and are third in the country in steals with 9.9.
The Golden Eagles were not strong enough during the regular season to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but they are one of the favorites to win the NIT. Davis is an elite scorer and his teammates around him are very athletic and talented as well. CSU will need a huge performance from its top tier players to bounce back from its upset loss to Liberty.
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