Furman Hoops 2022-23: non-conference schedule preview

Team Dream

GREENVILLE, S.C.– Just sixty days remain until the most anticipated basketball season tips off in recent memory for Furman basketball. Take a look back at the 2021-22 highlights in the video below.

The Paladins, which enter the 2022-23 season with three starters returning off a team that finished the 2021-22 campaign with a final NET ranking of 82, which was just one below Clemson (No. 81) and 11 spots higher than South Carolina (No. 93), comes off a 2021-22 campaign, which ended in heartbreaking fashion, losing at the buzzer in the SoCon Championship game against Chattanooga (L, 63-64) in overtime on a David-Jean Baptiste 36-footer as time expired. Furman ranked higher than both Clemson and South Carolina in the KenPom’s adjusted metric, which is the primary metric used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

However, despite the heartbreaking setback, Furman, which has won 153 games since the beginning of the 2015-16 campaign, including a sterling 84-14 record inside the friendly confines of Timmons Arena, has seemingly gathered momentum as the summer has progressed, and with the announcement of both SoCon Defensive Player of the Year Jalen Slawson (14.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG. 125 assists, 58 steals, 58 blks) and senior guard Mike Bothwell (15.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG), the Paladins feel they have some unfinished business.

Furman lost its all-time leading three-point shooter, Alex Hunter (13.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG/113 three-pointers), to graduation, as well as fellow graduate transfer Conley Garrison (9.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG), leaving the two vacancies in the backcourt. One of those vacated spots in the backcourt could be filled by highly-regarded Wake Forest transfer Carter Whitt, who was ranked as the No. 62 guard in the country and a four-star recruit coming out of Leesville Road High School, which ironically, also produced the aforementioned Hunter.

Furman Milestone Moments

Stephen Croone’s performance in the 2015 SoCon Tournament helped a program believe it could

The Paladins finished 22-12 in 2021-22, which included a 12-6 mark in Southern Conference action and that was good enough for a second-place finish a year ago.

Furman has posted five 20-win seasons over the past seven, finishing no worse than three games over .500 in all seven, heads into its a highly anticipated season, as the Paladins look to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1980.

Much like the 2021-22 slate, Furman head coach Bob Richey and staff have structured a non-conference slate of 13 games designed to prepare the Paladins for another grueling Southern Conference slate, which is again expected to be among a handful of mid-major conferences expected to be among the nation’s best.

Richey is one of the most successful young head basketball coaches in the country, having won 111 games over his five seasons. Wins in that span include the likes of No. 8 and defending national champion Villanova and perennial mid-major power Loyola-Chicago in 2018-19, as well as knocking off Loyola-Chicago (W, 89-62) in 2019-20, and at Louisville (W, 80-72, OT) last season.

He helped lead the Paladins to its best start in school history in 2018-19, which was a 12-0 start, highlighted by the program’s first-ever Top 25 ranking, ascending as high as No. 23 over the two weeks the Paladins appeared in the nation’s Top 25 poll. The Paladins would go on to win a school-record 25 games and make the NIT for the second time in school history, and for the first time since the 1990-91 season.

The ingredients of Furman’s foundational success were first implemented by Niko Medved, and then added to and elevated under Richey, who heads into his sixth season as the head coach of the Paladins and is responsible for 111 of those wins, are both simple and complex at the same time. The simplicity of it has to do with fun and relationships.

The hard part of the buy in is always getting guys to value the pricelessness of those relationships against what playing basketball in a power conference after spending one or two years of success in Greenville.

It’s a factor that Medved—when he took over in the 2015-16 season—didn’t really have to prepare for, however, even though it might have been unknown to him at the time, he was helping implement many of the values that would make player’s wanting to stay in a program like Furman, had some big power five come calling back then.

Foundational wins

Furman knocks off 2018 defending national champion Villanova

Feb. 26-Mar. 9, 2015—Furman starts an amazing close to the season, as it claimed a hard-fought win over Western Carolina (53-49) and fought hard before dropping a 62-60 game in the regular-season finale against the SoCon’s top team, Wofford. The Paladins would reel off three-straight wins before losing in the title game to that very same Terrier team. The 11-22 season was the spark to the current run off success. It was Medved’s second season in charge of the Paladin basketball program following a nine-win campaign in his inaugural campaign.

Jan. 9, 2016—A 70-55 win over preseason prohibitive and eventual league champion Chattanooga would be a harbinger of big wins to come in the future for Paladin basketball. The win snapped the Mocs’ eight-game winning streak, as Devin Sibley (18 pts) and Stephen Croone (17 pts) would be a major part of the win over the Mocs, as would Kendrec Ferrara, who came up big on the defensive end of the floor, as he finished with six blocks. The Mocs went on to win a program record 29 games and win the SoCon regular-season and tournament titles, respectively.

Jan. 23, 2016—With the backdrop of a pretty significant snowstorm by Greenville, S.C., standards, the Paladins came away with another major foundational moment. It was one of the most thrilling moments in the history of Timmons, as the venue played witness to its first Furman buzzer-beating effort in its 18 years of operation. Senior guard Stephen Croone tipped in a missed Devin Sibley driving layup attempt at the buzzer, and Furman ended its six-game losing streak to Wofford in thrilling fashion, with a 63-62 win over Southern Conference victory on Saturday afternoon in front of a rowdy crowd 2,252 fans at Timmons Arena. Croone had just two points in the opening half, but posted 15 in the second frame, with none more important than the final two, as Furman posted its first win over Wofford since Jan. 14, 2013, when the Paladins posted a 69-65 win over the Terriers at Timmons Arena.

Mar. 14, 2016–For the second time in the 2015-16 season, Furman sent an opponent away with a heartbreaking loss, as the Paladins claimed an unprecedented 14th home win in a, 58-57, win over Louisiana-Monroe on Daniel Fowler’s fade-a-way shot at the buzzer in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament Tuesday night at Timmons Arena. “It’s never happened before, I’ve never hit a buzzer-beater in my career,” Fowler said. “I saw the ball got tipped back out by Kris Acox and no one boxed me out and I really didn’t know how much time I had, and I just put up the shot and it went in and that’s pretty much it.” The appearance in the tournament marked the first non-conference postseason appearance since a trip to the CIT in 2010, and first postseason non-conference tournament win since defeating South Carolina in the opening round of the 1975 NCAA Tournament.

–Nov. 16, 2016 Another breakthrough win for the Furman basketball program occurred early in the 2016-17 season when the Paladins went to the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) and ended a 26-game homecourt winning streak, with an 84-74 win at Bartow win in the third game of the 2016-17 season. The game was part of the CBE Hall-of-Fame Classic.  Daniel Fowler had one of the best games of his career, posting a career-high 23 points, while grabbing seven rebounds and dished eight helpers in leading five Paladins in double figures.

Mar 17-29, 2017 Making its second postseason tournament appearance in a row, the Paladins had some unfinished business. Furman, which tied with both East Tennessee State and UNC Greensboro for the SoCon’s regular-season title, and headed to Asheville as the No. 2 seed in the SoCon Tournament. It would turn out to be a disappointing finish to their ultimate NCAA Tournament hopes, however, dropping a 67-63 contest to No. 7 Samford, despite a 30-point effort from SoCon Player of the Year Devin Sibley. However, the Paladins made accepted an invitation to the CIT for the second-straight season, knocking off USC Upstate (79-57), Campbell (79-64) before losing to eventual CIT champion St. Peter’s, (51-77) in the CIT Final Four. The win over Campbell would be Medved’s last game as the head coach of the Paladins, while the loss to the Peacocks would be the first under Richey. Richey would shed the interim tag the very next season. Furman’s 23 wins during the 2016-17 campaign tied a program record.

Feb. 25, 2018–Furman evened the series from its earlier season loss to East Tennessee State in Greenville by ending the Bucs chances at claiming a share of the regular-season Southern Conference title, with the Paladins taking home a 79-76 win in Freedom Hall. It was Furman’s first win over ETSU since it moved to its new facility during the 2013-14 season and marked the first win for Furman in Johnson City since 2005. Though the Paladins failed to appear in the college basketball postseason, turning down a bid to the CIT after a disappointing setback to the same ETSU Bucs in the semifinals of the SoCon Tournament in a game that saw Furman post one of its most difficult shooting nights of the season. The 23 wins would tie a program record, marking the third time in the school’s history that it had won as many games as possible, matching the 1979-80 Paladins and the 2016-17 team.

–Nov. 9, 2018–One of the biggest wins in the regular-season in Furman basketball history came early and it comes as no coincidence that Matt Rafferty, Clay Mounce, Jordan Lyons and Andrew Brown all had roles to play in the important program-elevating type victory, almost as if the 2016 win over UAB was a foreshadowing of how the events would unfold in the second game of the 2018-19 season, which was of course came in thrilling fashion at Loyola-Chicago’s Gentile Arena. With time winding down it was Clay Mounce who took the feed from Matt Rafferty and flushed a one-handed tomahawk dunk off the left side with 1.6 seconds remaining to seal a special win for the Furman basketball program, and for the Southern Conference. The 2018-19 campaign, as the Paladins went to Loyola-Chicago and knocked off the reigning Final Four participant, 60-58, at Gentile Arena.

Nov. 15, 2018—Furman’s win over North Greenville was expected—a 107-67 thumping of Bob Richey’s alma mater.  Earlier in the 2018-19 season, Furman debuted its new video boards by honoring the first player in college basketball history at any level to score 100 points in a single game, which Frank Selvy accomplished on Feb. 13, 1954. Jordan Lyons would put his name in NCAA basketball lore with another amazing NCAA record performance.  A week earlier, Furman woke up nine-point underdogs to 2018 Final Four participant Loyola Chicago. A week later, the Paladins were off to a 4-0 start, with Sports Center top play on a game-winning dunk, an NCAA record-tying performance for three-pointers made in a single game, and had a player score the most points in an NCAA Division I college basketball game since 2009. All in a week’s work, right? Jordan Lyons’ 15 three-point goals, which was part of a 54-point—the most points in a game since Jodie Meeks for Kentucky in 2009 vs. Tennessee—tied an NCAA single-game record, which was first set by Keith Veney in 1996 and had been tied just a night earlier by Robert Morris sharp-shooter Josh Williams.

Nov. 17, 2018—Furman got the attention of the entire college basketball world on Nov. 17, 2018, as the Paladins were able to knock off defending national champion and If Furman’s early win over Loyola-Chicago didn’t raise enough eyebrows around the nation, then surely its 76-68 overtime win at reigning national champion Villanova did the trick. This win was not only one of the biggest wins in the regular-season history of Furman basketball, ranking up there with wins over nationally-ranked Davidson (1963-64) and East Tennessee State (1990-91), it also kept the Paladins in NCAA Tournament conversations as an at-large bid for the remainder of the college basketball season, and would ultimately see the Paladins find their way into the Associated Press NCAA Top 25 a month later. It was also Furman’s first-ever win over a nationally-ranked program on the road.  Furman’s win over the defending national champions marked the second-straight season a team from the Southern Conference had defeated a reigning national champion, as the Wofford had defeated reigning national champion North Carolina on the road, 79-75, just a year earlier.

The Non-Conference Schedule Preview

Furman opened the 2021-22 season in style with a win over North Greenville at Timmons Arena

Furman’s season will open on Nov. 7, as for the second-straight season, the Paladins will open up against Richey’s alma mater, North Greenville, who makes the short 13-mile trek from Tigerville to Timmons Arena.

Furman also opened its 2022 football season against North Greenville, defeating the Crusaders 52-0 in the first-ever meeting between the two, as well as the first-ever Thursday night home game at Paladin Stadium.

The Paladins and Crusaders met in the season-opener last season, with Furman posting what was a 118-66 win in the 2021-22 season opener at Timmons Arena. In the lopsided win, Furman set school records for three-pointers in a game (22) and total assists (34), breaking a pair of records set during the 2020-21 campaign against South Carolina State, when the Paladins knocked down 21 triples and dished out 33 assists in a 66-point win. Furman has won all four meetings between the two.

Furman senior guard Rett Lister has a major tie to North Greenville University, as his father, Chad Lister, is the head basketball coach at North Greenville.

A couple of key dates highlight the month of November. The second game of the 2022-23 slate has perennial mid-major power Belmont visiting Timmons Arena on Nov. 11. The Bruins have made 15 postseason appearances in the past 17 seasons.

Bruins head coach Casey Alexander will have a bit of a rebuilding project ahead of him, as he will need to replace four starters from a squad that finished with a 25-8 record last season, bowing out in the opening round of the NIT with a loss to cross-town rival Vanderbilt, dropping an 81-72 contest.

Ben Sheppard, who was a first-team All-OVC selection last season, is the lone returning starter from a year ago, and will head into the season as a potential preseason Player of the Year in the Bruins’ new conference, which will be the Missouri Valley, as Belmont will begin play in its new conference this season.  Belmont has won 20 or more games in every season since 2009-10.

The other significant event during the opening month of the season will involve Furman’s appearance in the highly-regarded Shriner’s Charleston Classic from Nov. 17-20.

The tournament will showcase some of the nation’s top power five conferences, along with some top-tier mid-major perennial NCAA Tournament and NIT participants, will be played on the College of Charleston’s home floor at TD Arena.

Aside from Furman, the participants in the eight-team tournament field will include Colorado State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Davidson, Old Dominion, College of Charleston and Penn State.

The Paladins will actually open the 2022-23 tournament on Nov. 17 at 11:30 am, as the Paladins will face off against the Penn State Nittany Lions, in what will mark the first meeting since Penn State claimed a 70-49 win over the Paladins on Nov. 28, 2010. It marks the only previous meeting between Furman and Penn State.

The Nittany Lions will be under the direction of second-year head coach Micah Shrewsbury, who enters the 2022-23 season with a Top 40 recruiting class, as he looks to help Penn State build its own winning tradition on the hardwood, with the school mostly known by its perennially strong football program.

That said, Shrewsbury has hit the ground running, and has done so with some hard work on the recruiting trail, helping sign one of the top classes in program history in the process.

The good news for the Nittany Lions heading into the 2022-23 campaign is that two of the top three scorers are back. Leading the way, a year ago was Jalen Pickett (13.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG), and he is back for a fifth year.

The 6-4 super senior guard started his collegiate journey at Siena, and with a year left in his career afforded due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will enter his senior season as one of only six active NCAA players with 1,500 career points, 500 career rebounds and 500 career assists, and is one of only two active players in the NCAA to reach all three marks in just four seasons.

Following he tournament opener, the Paladins will face the winner/loser of the Virginia Tech-Old Dominion matchup the following day.

Furman opened the 2020-21 season against Tusculum

Furman will also take on Tusculum on Nov. 25–a team the Paladins met during the COVID-19 limited campaign of 2020-21, as the Paladins opened with a 95-62 win over the Pioneers.

The Paladins will close out the opening month with a trip to Boone on Nov. 29 to take on former Southern Conference rival Appalachian State.

The Paladins and Mountaineers played a hard-fought contest last season in Greenville, with the Paladins able to emerge with a 73-65 win at Timmons Arena, in what was the first meeting between the old SoCon foes since the 2015-16 season.

The win marked Furman’s fourth-straight in a series that dates back to Dec. 9, 1971, when the Paladins were able to take a 101-91 win over the Mountaineers at the Memorial Auditorium in downtown Greenville.

Furman hoops last traveled to the High Country on Nov. 15, 2015, picking up a 79-70 win/photo courtesy of App State athletics

The 2022-23 meeting at the Holmes Center will mark Furman’s first trip to the High Country to take on Appalachian State since the Nov. 17, 2015, as the Paladins were able to emerge from the Holmes Center with a 79-70 win in what was the intial season that saw the stark turnaround for Paladin basketball.

The Mountaineers have begun their own turnaround under head coach Dustin Kerns, and despite dropping the eight-point decision to the Paladins in Greenville last season, the Black and Gold went on to have another good season under then third-year head coach Dustin Kerns, as the Mountaineers finished 19-15 overall, including a 12-6 mark in Sun Belt play, which was good enough for a second-place finish overall in the league standings.

After opening the Sun Belt Tournament with a 73-60 win over Georgia Southern, the Mountaineers would see their dream of making the NCAA Tournament for a second-straight season end one game short of getting back to the title game in Pensacola, FL, as the Mountaineers dropped a 71-66 decision to eventual tournament champion Georgia State.

The Mountaineers did except a postseason invitation to The Basketball Classic, where they were knocked out by Big South member USC Upstate, dropping an 80-74 contest on their home floor.

The Mountaineers were a veteran team with championship pedigree and know-how last season when the Paladins and Mountaineers duked it out towards the latter half of non-conference play.

Three key starters have moved on, however, and the 2022-23 season will see fourth-year head coach Dustin Kerns (54-42) have a much younger lineup.

The Paladins open the month of December by welcoming South Carolina State to Timmons Arena on Dec. 3. The Bulldogs basketball program will be under the direction of a new head coach this season, as former West Virginia assistant Erik Martin, who inherits a team coming off one of the biggest turnarounds in college basketball last season. The contest against the Bulldogs will mark the beginning of a three-game homestand for the ‘Dins.

The Bulldogs went 15-16 a year ago, which included a 7-7 mark in the MEAC, which was good enough for a fifth-place finish in the league standings.

That came on the heels of a COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 campaign, which saw the Bulldogs finish just 1-17 overall and posted a 1-7 mark in MEAC play.

Furman posted a 66-point win over SC State in 2020-21

Furman and South Carolina State last met just before Christmas during the 2020-21 campaign, with the Paladins claiming one its second-largest margin of victory over an NCAA Division I opponent at Timmons Arena, as the Paladins posted a 66-point, 118-52 win over the Bulldogs.

The Paladins used a barrage of three-pointers, knocking down a school-record matching 21 three-pointers and set a new school mark with 33 assists. Furman’s blistering 71.4% field goal percentage in the 66-point win marked the second-highest in a game in program history, which was best only by a 71.4% shooting effort against James Madison on Dec. 1, 1984.

The win represented what was the 17th-straight win at Timmons Arena by the Paladins. The Dec. 3, 2022 meeting will mark the 19th all-time between the two programs, with the Paladins holding the commanding 13-5 all-time series edge.

Following the Dec. 3 contest against the Bulldogs, the Paladins will host a much-improved High Point basketball program, which like South Carolina State, will be under the direction of a new head coach after legendary alum and former national championship winning coach Tubby Smith decided to retire following the 2021-22 campaign.

Set to take the reins of the program will be his son, G.G. Smith, who was promoted following his father’s retirement last spring. He was on the sidelines for what was an up-and-down campaign, which saw the Panthers finish with a 14-18 overall mark, including a 7-9 mark in Big South, and that was good enough for a third-place finish in the Big South’s North Division.

Furman and High Point played a thriller last season at the Qubein Center/Photo courtesy of Tim Cowie and High Point Athletics

The biggest loss from a year ago for the Panthers is John-Michael Brown, who led High Point and Big South in scoring, averaging 18.4 PPG. The Paladins have won all three previous meetings between the two programs, including a thrilling 74-70 double-overtime win over the Panthers last season.

On a night when neither team would use this particular offensive display for any instructional coaching videos on execution, particularly shooting wise, the Paladins knocked down the big shots when needed. Furman connected on 38.0% (27-of-71) from the field, including just 25.9% (7-of-27) from the three-point line. 

It would be Mike Bothwell that came up big for the Paladins on this early December night a year ago, as he first forced overtime, and then forced it again, keeping Furman from defeat. Free throws Alex Hunter eventually allowed the Paladins to collectively exhale and leave the Gate City with a win.

Bothwell finished the night just 5-for-20, including going 0-for-4 from three, the senior guard seemed unphased when the Paladins needed a layup to force overtime, and then another. He finished with 11 points. He went 2-for-2 with time winding down and the game on the line.

Jalen Slawson recorded the program’s first-ever triple-double in the meeting with Winthrop last year

On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Paladins will close out the three-game homestand with a game against perennial Big South and mid-major power Winthrop, who the Paladins will be meeting for the sixth-straight season, with the Eagles winning five of those.

No other mid-major program outside the Southern Conference has had as much success as the Eagles have had against Furman since the 2016-17 campaign, winning five out of the six matchups, with Winthrop handing the Paladins two of those 14 losses at Timmons Arena since the start of the 2015-16 campaign.

Furman’s lone win over the past six meetings came on Dec. 14, 2020 with a good Winthrop basketball paying a visit to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, as the Paladins posted what was an impressive 80-73 win over the Eagles in front of its largest non-conference home crowd of the season—a crowd of 2,752, with an impressive student turnout for a campus located about seven miles away.

It was Furman’s first appearance in the artist formerly known as the BI-LO Center in 13 seasons and 12 years, with the last being on Feb. 19, 2007, when the Paladins dropped an 80-77 decision to College of Charleston. Tonight’s win snapped a four-game losing skid for the Paladins inside the facility, with the last win for Furman inside the BI-LO Center coming in a 68-54 victory over Georgia Southern in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference.

The 2020-21 meeting at Winthrop Coliseum saw the Eagles never really threatened in the contest en route to handing the Paladins their largest margin of defeat for the entire season, posting an 87-71 win inside the friendly confines.

The Paladins dropped an 85-80 contest in Rock Hill in 2021-22, in what was a heated, contested affair. For Winthrop then first-year head coach Mark Prosser, it was his first victory against Furman and head coach Bob Richey, having dropped each of the previous six meetings, as he spent three seasons as the head coach of the Western Carolina Catamounts prior to taking over as the head coach of Winthrop in April of 2021.

The Eagles finished off the 85-80 win by connecting on 56.1% (32-of-57) from the field and 52.9% (9-of-17) from three-point land. The Eagles’ nine three-pointers were one off their average of 10.4 per game entering the contest. Leading the charge was one of the more unlikely heroes for the Eagles, in wing guard Michael Anumba, who led the Eagles with 18 points while Western Carolina transfer Cory Hightower chipped in with 16.

Jalen Slawson had one of his signature performances as a Paladin in the loss, however, as he posted the program’s first-ever triple-double, showcasing his array of skills before the sparse pre-Christmas crowd on-hand at Winthrop Coliseum.

Despite first-ever triple-double in school history from senior big man and reigning Southern Conference Player of the Week Jalen Slawson (15 pts, 10 pts, 12 assists), Furman would drop what was a hard-fought, 85-80, contest at perennial Big South power Eagles Tuesday night at the Winthrop Coliseum. 

Winthrop, which lost in the Big South title game to Longwood, 79-58, last March, finished with a 23-9 record and finished second in the Big South regular-season standings, posting a 14-2 record at home. Despite having leading scorer and rebounder D.J. Burns (15.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG) transfer to N.C. State in May, the Eagles return a good core group of players that should have them once again in the mix to win the conference crown.

Cory Hightower (11.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG), Kelton Talford (8.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG) and the aforementioned Michael Anumba (7.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG) highlight a strong list of veteran returnees for the Eagles. The meeting on Dec. 10 at Timmons Arena will mark the 14th all-time meeting between the two, with Winthrop holding the narrow 7-6 series edge.

In both the 2015-16 and ’17-18 campaigns, Furman traveled to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on the Duke Blue Devils, and last year, took on North Carolina. The Paladins are 0-3 along tobacco road so far, and if you look back to the 2012-13 season, when the Paladins lost 79-55 at Wake Forest, the Paladins are 0-4 over the past decade along the road paved with college basketball success and lore.

Furman will hope that its fifth trip up that very same road on Dec. 13, facing off against the N.C. State Wolfpack for the first time since the 1985-86 season, will yield a more favorable outcome.

Last season, of course, Furman went into ACC country and captured the program’s first win over an ACC member since Dec. 4, 2000, when Bob Richey’s Furman Paladins were able to knock off Louisville, 80-72, in overtime in the second game of the 2021-22 season.

The win 22 years ago came against Florida State, and like the Louisville win, came in overtime, as the Paladins captured a 79-74 victory under then head coach Larry Davis.

Furman hasn’t been all that successful, as one would expect, against the Wolfpack in the series between the two. The Wolfpack have won 31 of the 33 meetings between the two, which includes having won the past seven meetings between the two, which dates back to the 1978-79 season.

Furman’s last win over the Wolfpack came back in the 1977-78 season, as the Paladins captured what was a 68-67 win over the Wolfpack at the North-South Classic in Charlotte, N.C.

On Feb. 4, 1978 and led by a 26-point effort from Furman star forward Jonathan Moore, the Paladins were able to capture the one-point win over the Wolfpack.

That win over the Wolfpack was against pretty good N.C. State basketball team, which went to finish the 1977-78 campaign with a 21-10 record under then head coach Norm Sloan. That Wolfpack team posted a 7-5 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which was good enough for a third-place finish in the standings by season’s end.

The Wolfpack would feature in one of the best ACC Championship games in the history of the league that same season, losing a 109-108 decision to Lefty Driesell’s Maryland Terrapins.

Sloan’s Wolfpack would move onto the National Invitational Tournament, knocking off South Carolina (82-70), Detroit-Mercy (84-77) and Georgetown (86-85, OT) before eventually running out of gas in the championship game, dropping a 101-93 decision to Texas.

NC State featured players like sophomore guard Hawkeye Whitney, who led the Wolfpack in scoring, averaging 15.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 1.8 APG, as well as others like such as 6-6 junior forward Tony 9Warren (11.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.4 APG) and sophomore guard Clyde Austin (12.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 4.2 APG).

Furman, meanwhile, would go on to capture the Southern Conference Tournament title following a fourth-place finish in the league. The Paladins would finish 19-11 under the direction of then head coach Joe Williams, and lost a heartbreaking, 63-62, contest to the Indiana Hoosiers.

The Paladins defeated Chattanooga (W, 83-73), Appalachian State (W, 72-68) and Marshall (W, 69-53) en route to capturing the Southern Conference Tournament crown.

In addition to Moore, that Paladin basketball team featured greats like guard Al Daniel (17.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG), as well as guards Bruce Grimm (17.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.4 APG) and Rodney Arnold (13.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG).

N.C. State, which was a member of the Southern Conference from the 1921-22 season until playing their last season as a league member in 1952-53. The final seven years of N.C. State’s Southern Conference membership saw them win seven-straight SoCon Tournament titles, while winning six of the final seven SoCon regular-season titles before leaving to join the ACC at the conclusion of the 1952-53 season.

The 1950-51 Wolfpack team, which was coached by the legendary Everette Case, finished off one of the most memorable seasons in Southern Conference basketball history, finishing the campaign with a 30-7 overall record, and had a 13-1 mark in league play.

North Carolina State enters the 2022-23 season coming off what was a forgettable 2021-22 campaign, as the Wolfpack could muster just an 11-21 season, which included just a 4-16 mark in ACC play, as the Wolfpack finished 14th (dead last) in the league standings.

Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts enters his sixth season as the head coach of the storied program in Raleigh, and his seat might be the only one hotter than Clemson’s Brad Brownell heading into the 2022-23 campaign.

Keatts has posted a 90-68 record as the head coach, which includes a 43-50 mark in ACC games. Prior to the debacle that was the 2021-22 season as the head coach of the Wolfpack, Keatts had been just the second N.C. State in the past four decades to lead the Wolfpack to four-straight .500 or better seasons in the ACC.

The Wolfpack return three starters from the 2021-22 squad, including the second-leading scorer from a year ago, in 6-4 guard Terquavion Smith (16.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG). Smith has a chance to establish himself as one of the top players in the ACC for the upcoming campaign. Smith was an outstanding scorer for the Wolfpack during his rookie campaign.

He came to NCSU as a consensus four-star recruit and lived up to his high marks as a recruit coming in according to several recruiting services. Smith finished the 2021-22 campaign leading the ACC in made three-pointers, as he finished the season with 96 made three-pointers, averaging three made trifectas per outing. Smith scored a career-high 34 points in an 84-74 loss to North Carolina.

Smith was named ACC Freshman of the Week on three occasions last season, posting 23 double-figure scoring performances, including posting 13 games in which he scored 20 or more points.

One of the key additions the Wolfpack made via the transfer portal during the off-season is D.J. Burns from Winthrop. Burns, of course, was a perennial All-Big South performer, and has faced off against the Paladins each of the past three seasons during his time with the Eagles, going 2-1 against the Paladins.

Burns is one of four pickups for head coach Kevin Keatts via the transfer portal, and he should be an immediate impact player for the Wolfpack for the 2022-23 season.
The Rock Hill, S.C., native ended the 2021-22 campaign as the Big South Player of the Year after averaging 15.0 PPG and 4.5 RPG a year ago. In Winthrop’s 85-80 win over Furman last season, Burns finished with 12 points and six rebounds, posting a 6-of-13 shooting performance.

Perhaps Burns’ most impressive attribute last season and really throughout his career at Winthrop is his efficiency in scoring around the basket. He finished the season shooting 62.6% from the field.

Additionally, he scored in double figures in 26 games last season for the Eagles and had a career-high 30 points in the 2021-22 season season opener against Mary Baldwin. Burns will join the Wolfpack with two years of eligibility remaining.

Other transfers that could help impact N.C. State in a major way in the upcoming season include guards Jarkel Joiner (Ole Miss) and Jack Clark (La Salle), as well as 6-10 forward Dusan Mahoric (Utah).

Joiner, a 6-2 guard from Ole Miss, will have two years of eligibility remaining and comes off what was a productive couple of seasons in Oxford. He ended up leading the Rebels in scoring last season, averaging 13.2 PPG. As a freshman two years ago, Joiner ranked second on the team in scoring, posting 12.0 PPG.

He finished the 2021-22 campaign with 15 double-figure scoring performances, which included a career-high 33-point effort against Alabama. He ended the season with 35 made three-point field goals in 22 games.

Clark will give the Wolfpack some length and athleticism at one of the wing positions. The 6-8 transfer from La Salle will have two years of eligibility remaining, and he ended up averaging 12.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG last season for the Explorers, scoring in double figures in a total of 17 games. He dropped a career-high 30 points in an impressive 13-for-19 shooting performance against Duquesne.

Mahoric, a 6-10 transfer forward from Utah, will have one season of eligibility remaining. The native of Belgrade, Serbia finished the 2021-22 season averaging 5.5 PPG and 4.1 RPG after appearing in just 12 games for the Utes last season.

Furman and NC State will be matching up on the college basketball hardwood for the first time since the 1985-86 season, which saw the Wolfpack throttle the Paladins, 94-56, in Raleigh. The Wolfpack hold a commanding 31-2 advantage in the all-time series.

The Paladins will close out their non-conference slate at home against a pair of programs they have never faced on the college basketball hardwood, facing Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 17 as a part of the Greenville Winter Invitational, and closing out the non-conference slate with a game at Timmons Arena against the Anderson University Trojans.

The Lumberjacks play as a member of the Western Athletic Conference, and are coming off a 2021-22 season, which saw the ‘Jacks finish with what was a 22-10 overall record, including a 14-4 record in the WAC to tie with Seattle for the regular-season conference title.

The Lumberjacks were knocked out of the conference tournament in the quarterfinals, as Abilene Christian knocked off the Lumberjacks, 76-62. That loss may have put an end to the NCAA Tournament hopes of the Lumberjacks, however, it did not put an end to the postseason hopes for SFA.

SFA accepted an invitation to play in the College Basketball Invitational, where the Lumberjacks were knocked out of the tournament in the opening round by UNC Asheville, who knocked off the Lumberjacks, 80-68.

The Lumberjacks under the direction of head coach Kyle Keller, who enters his seventh season at the helm of the SFA basketball program.

Keller has generated plenty of excitement in the East Texas region for his basketball program, catching the nation’s attention during the 2019-20 campaign, which saw the Lumberjacks finish with a 28-3 record, including an impressive 19-1 mark in conference play.

During that remarkable season, the Lumberjacks will be best remembered for going into Cameron Indoor Stadium and handing the Coack Mike Krzyzewski-led and top-ranked Duke Blue Devils an 85-83 non-conference home loss.

The win was arguably the biggest win in the history of SFA basketball, and arguably its biggest athletic accomplishment.

Keller sports a nearly identical record to that of Furman’s Bob Richey, having posted a 110-52 record in his five previous seasons at SFA. He has led the Lumberjacks to a pair of 28-win campaigns during his time as the head coach in Nacogdoches.

Prior to his arrival at SFA, Keller spent five seasons as an assistant at Texas A&M and has led the Lumberjacks to three 20-win seasons in his five as the head coach, with the lowest win total being a 14-win campaign during the 2018-19 season.

He has led the Lumberjacks to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017-18 and in 2019-20 was on course to achieve that goal for a second time until the COVID-19 pandemic deprived him with a chance to follow up leading the Lumberjacks to a regular-season title with

a conference tournament title. The Lumberjacks basketball program is one of three involved in NCAA sanctions as a result of not meeting the NCAA required academic progress report (APR) criterion for NCAA Division I basketball programs.

In May of 2020, it was found that SFA had the lowest APR score of any team in NCAA Division I men’s basketball, at 810. The NCAA requires a score of 930 over a four-year period. The fallout from the NCAA’s findings meant the Lumberjacks were forced to forfeit three conference titles.

Not only has SFA become a mid-major power, but it has also enjoyed a rich history as a strong NAIA power prior to joining the NCAA Division I classification.

In the 1969-70 season, the Lumberjacks had one of their finishes in school history, as SFA completed the campaign with a 29-1 record, which included an 18-0 record in the Lone Star Conference. Needless to say, there will be plenty of purple in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Dec. 17.

Finally, the last matchup of non-conference play is kind of a neat story. Furman assistant coach Jimmie Williams took the reins of the Anderson University basketball program this past April, and he’s hit the ground running.

Williams was one of the main cogs as a top assistant for a program that has won 153 games over the past seven seasons. Williams joined the Furman staff prior to the 2018-19 season–a season which saw the program make historic strides as a basketball program.

Williams inherits an Anderson basketball program that finished 11-17 a year ago, including an 8-16 mark in the South Atlantic Conference.

Williams has secured a couple of familiar faces already to SoCon hoops fans, bring in a pair of sharp shooters from Mercer and The Citadel, respectively, as he acquired the services of both Jacksen Greco (Mercer) and Jackson Gammons (The Citadel) via the transfer portal.

The entire 2022-23 non-conference slate is listed below.

Mon. Nov. 7 vs. North Greenville

Fri. Nov. 11 vs. Belmont

Thurs. Nov. 17 vs. $Penn State

Fri. Nov. 18 vs. $Virginia Tech/Old Dominion

Sun. Nov. 20 vs. $TBD

Fri. Nov. 25 vs. Tusculum

Tues. Nov. 29 at Appalachian State

Sat Dec. 3 vs. South Carolina State

Tues. Dec. 6 vs. High Point

Sat. Dec. 10 vs. Winthrop

Tues. Dec. 13 at N.C. State

Sat. Dec. 17 #vs Stephen F. Austin

Mon. Dec. 19 vs. Anderson University

$-Denotes Shriner’s Charleston Classic

#-Denotes Greenville Winter Invitational

Published by soconjohn

I am a lover of all things SoCon, and I have had a passion to write about, follow and tell the world about this great conference for pretty much my entire life. While I do love the SoCon, and live in the SoCon city, which is home to the Furman Paladins, have a passion for sports in general, with college football and college hoops topping the list.

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