Fresh off an impressive 89-74 win over Belmont last Friday night, Furman’s men’s basketball team prepare to take part in one of the more prestigious in-season college basketball tournaments, as the Paladins will be taking part in the Charleston Shriners Classic, which is presented by ESPN Events and will take place at College of Charleston’s home venue–TD Arena–and will commence on Thursday, Nov. 17.
The Paladins will be part of the tournament’s opening game, as Furman will take on Penn State at 11:30 am in what will be just the second all-time meeting between the two programs.
The Paladins will join College of Charleston, Colorado State, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, South Carolina, and Davidson as participants in the 2022 tournament field.
Furman will be participating in the for the first time in what has become one of college basketball’s more prestigious in-season tournaments. Furman owns the distinction of being the only team in the field to be picked to win its conference in the preseason.
The weekend will certainly have a SoCon familiarity to it, with two former league rivals and three former head coaches participating in the eight-team tourney field, which coached in the Southern Conference.
One of those head coaches–Colorado State’s Niko Medved–served in two different stints as a coach at Furman, first as an assistant coach under former Paladin head coach Larry Davis, and then as the head coach from 2013-17, helping Furman’s men’s basketball program to begin to trend in the right direction. That has been seized upon, and elevated to a higher level by current Paladin head coach Bob Richey (113-46/6th season).
The Paladins, who are as high as No. 3 in the CollegeInsider.com poll and up to No. 11 in the mid-major madness poll following a successful opening week to the 2022-23 college basketball season, posting a pair of double-digit wins on their home floor. It marks the sixth-straight season the Paladins have gotten off to a 2-0 start to a campaign.
The Paladins will have two of the top players in the tournament, in the senior tandem of guard Mike Bothwell (20.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG) and forward Jalen Slawson (17.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.0 SPG). It will be a return home for Slawson, who hails from the Lowcountry and is a native of Summerville, S.C.
Both Slawson and Bothwell were at their best in the win over Belmont, combining to score 42 points, with Bothwell leading all scorers with 25.
Slawson chipped in with the 11th double-double of his career, as he finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds in the 89-74 win. Slawson, who has the lone triple-double in Furman basketball history, which he accomplished last season in an 85-80 road loss to Winthrop, also added five assists, three steals and blocked a shot. Slawson was the 2021-22 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year.
Furman’s game with Penn State to open the tournament will mark its first game against a Big Ten program since the Paladins faced the Michigan Wolverines back in Dec. of 2017, dropping what was a 68-62 contest in Ann Arbor.
Furman vs. Big Ten foes: (1-16)
vs. Penn State, 0-1
vs. Michigan, 0-1
vs. Michigan State, 0-3
vs. Minnesota, 1-5
vs. Purdue, 0-1
vs. Indiana, 0-2
vs. Ohio State, 0-1
vs. Wisconsin, 0-1
vs. Iowa, 0-1
vs. Charleston Shriners Classic Tournament foes (171-222)
vs. Penn State, 0-1
vs. Virginia Tech, 12-16
vs. Old Dominion, 1-0
vs. Colorado State, never played
vs. South Carolina, 53-72
vs. College of Charleston, 43-42
vs. Davidson, 62-101
Previewing Penn State:
Penn State is a basketball team that will enter the Shriners Charleston Classic with a perfect 3-0 record to this point in the 2022-23 season, getting its most recent hoops victory on Monday night against Butler, 68-62, in the Gavitt Tip-off Games to remain perfect in the young 2022-23 season. The Nittany Lions also have wins over Winthrop (W, 93-68) and Loyola Maryland (90-65).
As of Tuesday morning, the Nittany Lions ranked No. 38 in the KenPom rankings, while Furman sits at No. 66 in those same rankings.
The Nittany Lions are under the direction of second-year head coach Micah Shrewsberry (17-17, 2nd Yr), who is currently in the process of rebuilding and rebranding the Penn State basketball program. He has hit the ground running, having just secured his second Top 30 recruiting class in Happy Valley.
The Nittany Lions finished the 2021-22 season with a 14-17 overall record, which included a 7-13 record in Big Ten play, which was good enough for a tie for 10th-place in the Big Ten standings. Penn State finished the 2021-22 campaign having gone just 1-10 away from the Bryce Jordan Center, and were 2-11 against Quad 1 opponents.
The team never won more than two games in succession last season, and with three wins to start the 2022-23 season, has already eclipsed that feat that was never reached a year ago.
Penn State was one of the more slower, plodding offenses last season, favoring a half-court pace, as the Nittany Lions ranked No. 354 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive tempo. The Nittany Lions averaged 64.6 PPG last season, and have seen their scoring increase a little through the first three games this season, averaging 83.7 PPG, which includes a pair of lopsided wins over mid-major programs. However, this is a team trying to play with pace.
The six-point win over Butler Monday night at the Bryce Jordan Center is probably a fairer reflection of the pace, which Shrewsberry would like his Nittany Lions to play with. As a byproduct of that slower pace, it maximizes the offensive efficiency the opposition must play with due to that slower pace. The Nittany Lions finished the 2021-22 season allowing just 66.2 PPG last season, while allowing 65.0 PPG through three games this season.
To this point under Shrewsberry, the Nittany Lions have been super three-point dependent in what they do offensively, and after finishing the 2021-22 campaign having connected on 34.2% (249-of-729) from three-point range last season, and so far this season, the Nittany Lions are connecting on 47.8% (44-of-92) from three-point land through their first three games.
Heading into Monday night’s win over Butler, the Nittany Lions were connecting on 50% from three-point range (34-of-68) and ranked eighth nationally in three-point shooting percentage.
The Nittany Lions have connected on double-digit threes in all three of their opening trio of games to begin the 2022-23 campaign, connecting on a season-high 18 three-point field goals in the season-opener against Winthrop. The Nittany Lions connected on 16 long-range efforts against Loyola (MD) and finished with 10 triples in the win over Butler Monday night.
The Nittany Lions got just the second triple-double in school history from Jalen Pickett, who transferred in from Siena last season, after spending the previous three seasons at Siena.
In Monday night’s win over Butler, Pickett finished the contest with 15 points, 10 rebounds and dished out 11 assists in what was a six-point victory. Pickett comes into Thursday’s contest against the Paladins averaging 14.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG, as he leads the Nittany Lions in scoring.
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.
His 13.3 PPG led the Nittany Lions in scoring last season. He took excellent care of the basketball for Penn State last season, ranking second in the Big Ten and 27th nationally in assist-turnover ratio (2.45).
He finished the 2021-22 season with 25 games in double figures, which included four performances with 20 or more points. Had one of his best efforts of the season in a game at No. 20 Illinois last season, as he finished with 18 points, seven assists, and six rebounds in what was a 60-55 loss late last season.
Pickett scored a season-high 23 points in an early conference home loss to Ohio State. Later in the Big Ten Tournament against those same Buckeyes, this time Pickett led the Nittany Lions to a 71-68 win the Big Ten Tournament, posting 16 points in the three-point victory.
Through the first three games this season, Pickett has scored 23, 5 and the aforementioned 13 points in the opening three games to commence his final season as a Nittany Lion.
Pickett is a physical guard that, as the statistics bear out above from Monday night’s win, likes to get to the glass and is probably one of the better rebounding guards in the Big Ten. Pickett is Penn State’s most talented player.
The graduate senior guard is connecting on 38.5% from three-point land so far this season, as he has knocked down 5-of-13 shots from long range. His 27 total assists through three games leads the team.
Set to team with Pickett as starters in the Nittany Lions backcourt this season will be fellow senior guards and transfers Camren Wynter (12.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG) and 6-5 sharp-shooter Andrew Funk (12.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG).
Wynter comes to Happy Valley from Drexel, while Funk played previously in the Patriot League for the Bucknell Bison.
Wynter, as expected, has been an immediate impact player for the Nittany Lions and has scored 18, 9 and 11 points in the first three games of the season.
Wynter has turned in a fine career in Philly at Drexel, where he finished his career as a four-year starter and was a three-time All-CAA selection, and was the 2021 CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
In his time with the Dragons, Wynter spent a majority of his time playing the point guard spot. He ended up averaging in double figures in all four of his seasons at Drexel, posting at least 15 PPG in each of his final three seasons.
To this point in his collegiate career, Wynter has scored 1,674 points, dished out 586 assists, and posted 503-career rebounds. Wynter has had to make a bit of an adjustment from being “the guy” at Drexel to being a good scorer among several good scorers at Penn State, and that, according to his coach, has been an easier transition.
Knowing his role and knowing what is the expectation isn’t two of the luxuries he necessarily he was always afforded in his previous stop.
He dished out 577-career assists while at Drexel to rank him third in program history, and his 1,657-career points while with the Dragons rank him sixth in program history in that category.
Wynter enjoyed his best performance of the season in the win over Loyola, posting what is a season-high 18 points. He finished with nine in the win over Loyola, while having connected on 4-of-9 shots from the field, including going 1-of-3 from three-point range in the win over Butler last time out.
Of the trio of backcourt scorers that the Nittany Lions will put on the floor in the opener of the Shriners Charleston Classic, Wynter likely is the hardest guard because of his versatility in how he can score, as well as he has the luxury of not having to score, but if both Pickett and Funk are not having their best day shooting the basketball, Wynter is fully capable of scoring and putting up big numbers.
Just last March in the CAA Tournament Wynter went for a 2021-22 season-high 28 points in the Dragons’ 66-56 quarterfinal round loss to Delaware in the CAA Tournament.
From the perimeter this season, Wynter has connected on 44.4% (4-of-9) from three-point range, and his 12.7 PPG scoring average ranks second on the team in PPG average.
Funk will round out the projected five starters in the backcourt for the Nittany Lions, and as it turns out, he has fit in quite nicely to Shrewsberry’s three-guard offense this season.
Funk enjoyed a 22-point effort in his debut against Winthrop, as he connected on 8-of-12 shots from the field, which included a 6-of-10 shooting effort from three-point land.
Funk’s performance in the season-opener was diametrically opposed to the one he would put up in the 25-point win over Loyola the next time out, as he posted just three points on a 1-of-5 performance from the field as well as a 1-of-5 effort from three.
Funk is a three-point marksman and is a player that like Sheppard and Friberg for Belmont, which the Paladins must have an awareness of at all times because of what he can do as a long-range shooter.
Prior to making his way to Penn State, the 6-5 guard started three of his four seasons with the Bison, and posted 1,230 points, 346 rebounds, 195 assists and drained 190 career triples during his four seasons there.
As a senior in 2021-22, Funk was a second-team All-Patriot League selection following a campaign, which saw him average a team-best 17.6 PPG.
Through the first three games this season, Funk has connected on a team-high tying 10 triples so far this season, connecting on an impressive 45.5% (10-of-22) from long range.
In the win over Butler, three of Funk’s four made field goals came from long range, as he finished connecting on 4-of-9 shots from the field, including 3-of-7 from three.
Projected as the starters in the front court for the Nittany Lions include 6-6 forward Seth Lundy (10.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG)–another player that can step out and shoot it–and plays almost like a fourth guard, but is physical enough to score in the paint. Lundy was one of the more experienced players on the roster after having started all 30 games for Penn State in 2021-22.
He ended the 2021-22 season ranking as the team’s second-leading scorer, and completed the campaign with 20 double-digit scoring performances. The Pallsboro, N.J., product recorded his best performances of the season against both Youngstown State and Cornell, scoring a season-high 23 points against foes in non-conference play.
He averaged 32.3 minutes-per-game last season, but did struggle shooting the ball from the field last season, connecting on just 39.5% (120-of-304) from the field, including 34.8% (64-of-184) from three-point range.
This season, Lundy has posted 10 points in all three games for the Nittany Lions. Six of his nine field goals this season have come from three-point range, and he’s shooting an impressive 54.5% (6-of-11) from three-point land through the first three games of the season.
Rounding out what will is the projected starting five for the Nittany Lions heading into Thursday’s Shriners Classic opener against the Paladins will likely be 6-7 forward Caleb Dorsey (7.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG). The junior forward saw action in 12 games last season, and has started all three games for Penn State this season.
Dorsey is not a scorer, but he does provide good post defense and he is coming off his best performance of the season. Dorsey is coming off his best performance of the young season to this point, as he posted nine points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 1-of-2 from three-point range.
The first player off the bench is yet another veteran, in 6-4, 235-lb senior Myles Dread (10.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG), who is back for his fifth season of eligibility, which was afforded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite being built like a middle linebacker, Dread is one of the team’s top shooters. This season he has managed to connect on a blistering 62.5% (10-of-16) from three-point range. He saw 27 minutes of floor action against Butler last time out, and after scoring 12 points against both Winthrop and Loyola (MD), was held to just six points by Butler Monday night.
Dread came into the 2022-23 season having connected on 232-career three-point field goals for the Nittany Lions, and since the start of the season, has upped that total to 242 for his career.
During the 2021-22 campaign, Dread shot a team-best 40.7% (55-of-135) from beyond the arc. He ended up seeing action in all 31 games for the Nittany Lions last season, making starts in 20 of those games.
Dread registered four 12-point scoring performances during the 2021-22 season, with two of those efforts coming in the Big Ten Tournament, as he posted 12-point efforts in the Big Ten Tournament in wins over both Minnesota and Ohio State. In the win over the Buckeyes, Dread finished the contest going 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Rounding out those who should see some quality action on the floor Thursday against the Paladins are both Dallion Johnson (3.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG) and Kebba Njie (6.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG), as the Nittany Lions go about seven or eight players deep.
Johnson ended up playing a pivotal role down the stretch last season for the Nittany Lions, as he started the final 14 games of the 2021-22 campaign. Johnson would end up posting his best performance in a Senior Night win over Northwestern last season, as he finished with a career-high 15 points on a 5-for-9 effort from long-range in the contest.
Njie is Penn State’s first Top 100 recruit since Tony Carr in 2016, while he also ranks as the second-highest recruit in the history of Penn State basketball, as he came in as a consensus four-star recruit.
He ranked as the No. 16 power forward in the country according rivals.com, playing his first two seasons of high school basketball at La Lumiere in Indiana before finishing out his high school career at Centerville High School in Centerville, OH.
Through the first three games this season, he has posted 4, 12 and 4 points, respectively. His season and career-high 12 points came on a 4-of-5 shooting effort in the second game of the season, which was the 25-point win over Loyola.
Final Synopsis of the Nittany Lions: Micah Shrewsberry has this program headed in the right direction, and it’s a team that should figure prominently into the NCAA Tournament conversation come March. The team is that good and lost in how good a shooting team the Nittany Lions are through the first three games has been how well they have defended people through the early portions of the season. Penn State has not allowed 70 points in any of their three games to this point in the season. The two advantages I think Furman has coming into the matchup is depth and I also think that Furman can be successful on the boards against Penn State. Unlike most Big Ten schools, the Nittany Lions don’t possess overwhelming size. This will definitely be Furman’s toughest test so far this season, and this Penn State team could be a candidate to be in the championship game on Sunday if they can survive in the opening game against Furman. I like Furman’s chances at an upset.
Last Time They Met: Penn State 70, Furman 49 (Nov. 28, 2010)
–The Nittany Lions were led by Talor Battle, who posted 19 points and dished out six assists, while forwards David Jackson and Jeff Brooks added 16 and 13 points, respectively, in helping the Nittany Lions to the 21-point win. Interestingly, that 2010-11 Penn State team was the last team in program history to make an NCAA Tournament appearance, which was the ninth appearance in the Big Dance in program history for the Nittany Lions.
A Brief look at the other potential opponents:
Virginia Tech is the reigning ACC champion and will open the tournament against Old Dominion in Thursday’s second quarterfinal game in a tip-off time set for approximately 2:00 p.m. EST. The Hokies are under the direction of Mike Young, who of course coached at Southern Conference member Wofford before making his way to Blacksburg. The Hokies were 23-13 a year ago, which included an 11-9 finish in ACC play, and that was good enough for a fifth-place finish in the ACC final regular-season standings. Young is in his fourth season as the head coach at Virginia Tech, having coached the Hokies to a 57-36 record during that span, and the Hokies are off to a 3-0 start this season. Virginia Tech returned two of five starters from a year ago. Sharp-shooting guard Shawn Pedulla leads Virginia Tech in scoring, averaging 20.0 PPG and 3.7 RPG so far this season, and is one of four starters averaging in double figures. Virginia Tech actually won the Charleston Classic back in 2018. The Hokies 3-0 start to the season includes wins over Delaware State (W, 95-57), Lehigh (W, 78-52) and William & Mary (W, 94-77).
Along with Furman, Davidson and College of Charleston, the Old Dominion Monarchs are also a solid mid-major basketball program, and are a program that has now transitioned to the Sun Belt Conference from Conference USA. The Monarchs will take on Virginia Tech in the second quarterfinal at TD Arena, and are coached by former Virginia and American head coach Jeff Jones. Furman’s history with the Monarchs is far less extensive than it has with Virginia Tech, as the Paladins and Monarchs have faced each other only once on the college basketball hardwood. That meeting came back in the 1999-2000 season, as the Paladins picked up a 68-65 win over the Monarchs back on Nov. 28, 1999, as a part of the SoCon Holiday Hoops Thanksgiving Tournament at the BI-LO Center in downtown Greenville. The 2021-22 season for Old Dominion basketball was a bit of a rebuilding one, as the Monarchs finished the season with a 13-19 overall record, which included an 8-10 mark in what was the Monarchs’ final campaign as a member of Conference USA. The Monarchs finished fifth in the seven-team C-USA East Division last season. The Monarchs will begin play in a new conference this season, as ODU will begin play in the Sun Belt Conference. Jones has been in charge in Norfolk since the 2013-14 campaign, As far as Old Dominion’s new conference is concerned, the Monarchs have little history on the basketball hardwood with any of the 13 new conference rivals. Jones has transformed his roster during the off-season, so the Monarchs will look little, if any, like the team that struggled to a 13-19 finish a year ago in what was its final campaign in C-USA. The biggest challenge for Jones and Old Dominion going forward into the 2022-23 season is replacing the top four scorers from 2021-22. Gone are 6-3 guard C.J. Keyser (14.3 PPG), 6-7 forward Austin Trice (13.1 PPG), 6-8 forward Kalu Ezikepe (11.3 PPG), and 6-0 guard Jaylin Hunter (9.7 PPG). The Monarchs are off to a 2-1 start this season, with wins over Maryland Eastern Shore (W, 84-65) and Virginia Wesleyan (W, 72-58), while having dropped a 71-59 contest at Drexel. The Monarchs were selected to finish ninth in the 14-team Sun Belt.
Just as he did at Furman, it hasn’t taken long for Colorado State Rams head coach Niko Medved to help transform the Colorado State men’s basketball program from what had been a bottom-feeder in the Mountain West Conference into a conference power. The Rams are coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance last season and a season that saw the Rams finish off what was impressive 25-6 season a year ago, which saw the Rams open the season by winning its first 11 games of the season. Only the 2014-15 Rams team, which won 14-straight to open the season, rank as having more victories. The Rams were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the opening round, dropping what was a 75-65 decision to the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Tournament. The Rams are already off to yet another fast start this season, having knocked off Gardner-Webb (W, 65-63), Southeastern Louisiana (W, 80-69), and Weber State (W, 77-52) to get the season off to a quick 3-0 start. The Rams have just one starter back from that team that won 25 games last season, with the lone returning starter back being 6-0 senior guard Isaiah Stevens. However, Stevens has not played a minute this season, as the Bob Cousy Award finalist in 2021-22 injured his foot back in October and has yet to return to the lineup. A trio of talented scorers have led the Rams in scoring in Stevens’ absence, as 6-5 senior guard John Tonje (14.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG), who started 12 of the 30 games he played in last season, as well as Hillsdale Collge (Division II) transfer guard Patrick Cartier (11.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG), and junior wing Isaiah Rivera (11.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG) are all averaging in double figures early on in the 2022-23 campaign. Rivera has already hit one game-winning shot for the Rams this season, as he hit the game-winning fade-a-way jumper with 7.3 seconds remaining, helping the Rams overcome an 11-point halftime deficit at the half and come up with a 65-63 win over Gardner-Webb at Moby Arena in the season opener. Medved is now in his fifth season as the head coach of the Rams, having posted an 80-46 record in that span. Colorado State was picked to finish fourth in the preseason Mountain West basketball poll.
South Carolina is under the direction of a new head coach, welcoming in Lamont Paris as its first African American head basketball coach in school history this past spring with the hiring of former Chattanooga head coach Lamont Paris. Paris led Chattanooga to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016 last season, as the Mocs won the SoCon title with a three-pointer at the buzzer to garner a 64-63 overtime win over Furman. That helped propel Paris on to bigger and better things, and after Frank Martin was not retained as South Carolina’s head coach, the perfect opportunity presented itself. He inherited a Gamecocks team that finished a respectable 18-13 last season and posted a 9-9 mark in SEC play, which was good enough for a tie for fifth in the SEC’s final standings last season. Despite that, the Gamecocks were not deemed to be postseason worthy of either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. Paris saw all five starters either graduate or not return for the 2022-23 season. He went about hitting the recruiting trail and what he came up with are two of the top players that will be on=hand in Charleston for the Shriners Classic this weekend. The Gamecocks have the No. 1 recruit in all of college basketball, with the addition of 6-9 power forward G.G. Jackson (15.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG), who flipped his commitment from North Carolina-to-South Carolina this past summer. Paris also added The Citadel grad transfer and 2021-22 SoCon preseason Player of the Year Hayden Brown (15.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG). The Gamecocks have gotten off to a 2-0 start with wins over South Carolina State (W, 80-77) and Clemson (W, 60-58) to start out the Paris era. South Carolina’s most-recent win Friday night over Clemson came in thrilling fashion, as senior guard Chico Carter Jr. hit a fade-a-way jumper with 0.9 seconds remaining to lead South Carolina to the thrilling 60-58 win over the Gamecocks’ arch-rival. Both Jackson and Brown have been as good as advertised for the Gamecocks this season, with the duo currently leading the Gamecocks in scoring, averaging `15.0 PPG apiece. The Gamecocks were picked to finish 14th out of 14 teams by the SEC Media for the 2022-23 season. The Gamecocks will open the tournament against Colorado State with tip-off slated for 5 p.m. Thursday evening.
It’s the start of a new era for Davidson’s men’s basketball program, as Bob McKillop called it a career over the summer, leaving the program in the capable hands of his son–Matt McKillop–who now looks to extend the tradition down to through another generation. Bob McKillop ended his career as a Davidson legend of a coach and a college basketball Hall-of=Fame head coach, as he will forever be remebered for presiding over a Davidson program that made it all the way to the Elite Eight in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, with that team, of course, having been led by the greatest three-point shooter of the modern era or any era–Stephen Curry. Davidson is a proud basketball program, which originally cut its teeth as a SoCon member and established itself on a national level in the 1960’s under the direction of former great head coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell, and over the course of the next nine seasons, the Wildcat basketball program would rise to national prominence. The Wildcats would go on to make it to the Elite Eight twice under Driesell, making it in back-to-back seasons in both 1968 and ’69, respectively. The Wildcats were the preseason No. 1 ranked team in the country prior to the 1969-70 season, and would end up winning 12 Southern Conference Tournament titles during two different stints as a league basketball member. Fast-forward to last season, and what was McKillop’s final season as Davidson head coach. The Wildcats ended up winning 27 games last season before eventually bowing out of the NCAA Tournament in Greenville, S.C., with a 74-73 opening round loss to No. 7 seed Michigan State. It was the end of an era for Davidson basketball, which had seen the elder McKillop lead the program to 634 wins, with the pinnacle of Bob’s career having been that magical run by in March of 2008, as the Wildcats knocked off Gonzaga (W, 82-76), Georgetown (W, 74-70), and Wisconsin (W, 73-56), before eventually losing in the Elite Eight to Kansas (L, 59-57). A year later, the Wildcats saw the Stephen Curry era in the NCAA Tournament come to an end in the Scenic City 0f Chattanooga, Tenn, as the Wildcats dropped a 59-52 decision to the Andrew Goudelock-led College of Charleston Cougars. The Wildcats, which claimed the 2021-22 regular-season Atlantic 10 title snd won 27 games, returned two starters, in guard Foster Loyer (28.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG) and forward Sam Menenga (12.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG) to the fold for the new era of Davidson basketball under Matt McKillop. The Wildcats are off to a 3-0 start, posting wins over Guilford College (W, 87-64), at Wright State (W, 102-97) and vs. former SoCon rival VMI (W, 75-71) in its most-recent contest. Loyer has posted scoring performances of 30 and 38 points, respectively, in two of Davidson’s three games this season. The Wildcats were selected to finish sixth in the 15-team Atlantic 10 according to the preseason media poll. Davidson will face former SoCon rival College of Charleston at approximately 7 p.m. Thursday night at TD Arena.
The final team taking part in the 2022-23 Shriners Children’s Chaerleston Classic is the hometown College of Charleston Cougars. Charleston will be playing in the friendly confines of TD Arena. The Cougars were once a Southern Conference basketball member, having been a part of the historic basketball conference from 1998-2013 before leaving for the Colonial Athletic Association. The Cougars posted one of the most dominating runs in league history in their first season as a SoCon member, going from wire-to-wire undefeated in the league in the regular-season and to the NCAA Tournament en route to a season-ending national ranking of No. 19 in the nation. In more recent times as a CAA member, the Cougars have also been a team considered in the upper echelon of basketball programs in the CAA. Under second-year head coach Pat Kelsey, the Cougars have faced a challenging slate to this point, with a 2-1 start to the season. The Cougars claimed a hard-fought 85-78 win over Chattanooga to start thie season before battling hard before losing at No. 1 North Carolina, 102-86, the next time out. The most-rccent outing saw the Cougars get a thrilling 92-90 overtime win over reigning A-10 Tournament Champion Richmond. The Cougars have been led by sharp-shooting guard Reyne Smith, who averages 18.7 PPG, while backcourt mate Dalton Bolton adds 13.3 PPG. The College of Charleston was selected to finish fourth by the league’s media in the 13-team CAA. The Cougars will take on the Davidson Wildcats at approximately 7 p.m. Thursday night at TD Arena.