Furman Basketball Season Recap (part 2 of 5)

November to Remember?

Paladins post a 5-2 record in opening month of the 2022-23 season, highlighted by an 89-74 win over Belmont

All season, Bob Richey’s Paladins were forced to confront one overriding reality, which was could the return of Bothwell and Slawson for a fifth year be enough to put the Paladins over the top and right the wrongs of “the shot” from a year earlier. 

Could Furman exorcise its demons and lift the NCAA Tournament curse? It was a question, that as head coach Bob Richey broached several times during the season, and after the Paladins cut down the nets in Asheville, told the media how all season this team knew “the world was watching our response.”

There aren’t too many times in college basketball in which November is a month that is going to determine the outcome of a college basketball season, but it’s still an important month. It’s first the time the coaches get to see what they’re really made of. 

The Paladins have made the most of November in recent seasons. Who could forget the 12-0 start to the 2018-19 campaign, which saw the Paladins ultimately end up defeating defending national champion Villanova (W, 77-69) in overtime en route to the school’s first-ever Top 25 ranking. Or what about the ‘Dins last season, which handed Louisville its first November home loss,

No more preseason closed scrimmages. Prior to the season, I was able to catch up with Furman sixth-year head coach Bob Richey to ask him how his team was preparing for the season, and how they were mentally preparing to manage some rather “weighty” expectations. 

“When you look at this group and what they’ve built and what they’ve done in the last four full seasons…I mean 22-to-25 wins…These guys understand what it takes to win and they understand the process that leads to winning,” Richey said. “We have our own expectations, and when you have your own expectations and your own belief and your own culture and what it’s supposed to look like and how you are supposed to do it, you don’t have to really depend on the outside world to set their own expectations for you.”

“Yes, there is an individual element to [expectations], but right now it’s about what we do collectively and how we get better as a team, and are we able to play connected basketball, and can we play complimentary basketball because both sides affect one another. Six practices in and one intra-squad scrimmage down, I am pleased with our effort and I am pleased with how hard they’re playing, but we have to get a lot cleaner and I know that will come.” 

With that said, Furman would have a challenging slate in November. The Paladins would open up the season with a non-Division I game before hosting Belmont in a game that was one of the biggest games of the mid-major non-conference slate in the early season.

Add to an intriguing in-season tournament, in the ESPN Events Charleston Classic, as well as a trip to Appalachian State at the end of the month, and the first month of the season would no doubt offer the kinds of tests that help the Paladins get a good idea what kind of team the 2022-23 Paladins would.

Even though both Bothwell and Slawson returned, there was no guarantees. Opponents weren’t just going to lay down for the Paladins. Every team has its differences from season-to-season.

A couple of losses to UNC Asheville and Lipscomb in preseason closed scrimmages could have been cause for concern, however, both of those foes proved to be good baskertball teams, including an Asheville team, which like Furman, would find itself as a part of March Madness.

With that said, Furman was picked by first by the coaches, as well as by the media at the league’s annual preseason media day in late October. It marked the first time the Paladins had ever been picked to win the SoCon by the league’s head coaches, and just the third time it had been expected to win the league by the media.

What fans got in the season-opener against North Greenville this season was a different type of blowout than the Paladins had levied against their rival just 13 miles up the road in Tigerville, S.C. The play was solid at times, and sloppy at others. This wasn’t a team that was going to break any single-season Southern Conference records for single-season three-pointers made, however, it was still a team that was gping to be able to score points.

There were plenty of reasons for excitement, too. New players like Wake Forest transfer Carter Whitt, would for at least the start of the season, be part of a Paladin three-pronged attack at point guard, combining with sophomore JP Pegues and Joe Anderson. At least that would be the plan to start out the season, however, by the end of the month, a clear picture would begin to emerge.

Freshman Ben VanderWal was a more athletic version of Matt Rafferty, and is one of the highest-touted incoming recruits for the Paladins since Stephen Croone signed a national letter of intent some 11 years ago. 

The 2021-22 team, which featured standout sharp-shooters Alex Hunter and Conley Garrison, who combined to connect on 186 of the team’s Southern Conference record 402 three-pointers, were no longer around. The duo also combined to shoot over 40% from three-point range. In what was a 118-66 win to open the season a year earlier against the Crusaders, the Paladins posted school records of made three-pointers (22) as well as team assists (34) en route to the 62-point season-opening win. 

A year later, the Paladins were no doubt talented, but some that watched the game saw a Furman team that was a great offensive team, but probably some drew unfair comparisons to an outstanding perimeter shooting team of the previous season. 

Most would come to realize that the shooting acumen of the 2021-22 season probably won’t be duplicated any time soon.  Still, the Paladins made relatively easy work of the Crusaders in the opener, topping their local non-Division I visitor, 91-55.

North Greenville head coach Chad Lister, who is the father of Furman senior walk-on guard Rett Lister, had a gritty team that battled the Paladins from tip-off to buzzer, though it wouldn’t be at all evident from the score. 

The 2022-23 season opener against the same opponent was more like watching a someone finish out the rough edges on some soft stone sculpture in the process of refinement, yet you know at some point the finished product is going to look a lot better from the business end of the project than it does from the front end.

Game 1: vs. North Greenville (W, 91-55)

Furman sophomore guard Carter Whitt (photo courtesy of Furman athletics)

That’s probably an accurate description the season-opening 91-55 victory over North Greenville, which also happens to be Furman head coach Bob Richey’s alma mater.

Furman, which saw reigning SoCon Defensive Player of the Year Jalen Slawson exit the contest just over two minutes into the second half following an apparent hand injury of some type following a hard foul going to the basket, actually ended up leading six Paladins in double figures with 17 points to go with three steals and a rebound before leaving the game with the aforementioned injury. No word was provided on the extent of the injury. Slawson finished the night connecting on 6-of-9 shots from the field and was 5-for-6 from the line before leaving the game after his only missed free throw of the evening.

His fifth-year senior teammate–Mike Bothwell–finished the contest with 16 points, while Tyrese Hughey added a career-high 15 rebounds. Two new Paladins–Ben VanderWal and Carter Whitt–were seeing their first action in a Paladin uniform, and both showed why there was a buzz around them during the off-season, as both showed they had that ‘it’ factor.

The freshman VanderWal added 11 points in his collegiate debut, while Whitt, a sophomore and former four-star recruit added 10. Rounding out the double-figure scorers for the Paladins in the season-opening win was Marcus Foster, who matched VanderWal with 11.

The Crusaders were led by one player in double-figures for the night, in Greenville, S.C., native C.J. Jamison, as he posted a game-high 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field and 2-for-5 from three-point land and was 2-for-2 from the line. He also added eight rebounds, three assists and three steals to his overall solid statistical line for the evening.

Garrett Hien, who is now in his junior season with the ‘Dins, looked more polished and stronger in the paint, while also playing with a new aggression and physicality, which he struggled to find a year ago. He ended up fouling out, but while that’s not often a positive for most players, it was a good sign for Hien and good things to come as the season progresses. His 12 rebounds were a career-high, while also added five points, two assists, two blocks and an assist in 25 minutes of floor action.

Game 2: vs. Belmont (W, 89-74)

Much anticipation surrounded Furman’s next game against Belmont. The Bruins had come from behind late to force overtime in the 2021-22 season, eventually handing the Paladins a 95-89 heartbreaking loss.

This time around, Timmons Arena, to no one’s surprise, was rocking and it was similar to the way the atmosphere when Furman had welcomed Loyola Chicago to Timmons Arena for a huge matchup. The Bruins were now coming into a conference that the Ramblers had left. as the 2022-23 campaign would mark Belmont’s first as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, which is one of the most prestigious mid-major basketball conferences in the nation.

Much of that team that had handed the Paladins that heartbreaker a year earlier had graduated, however, there was still plenty of talent on the roster, including dynamic guard Will Sheppard.’

On this night, however, the Bruins would run into a Furman team at its best, and this one of those handful of nights during the 2022-23 season that Furman played with the type of synergy that would have made a tough out for almost anyone in the nation.
Furman dunked its way to an 89-74 win over the Bruins before a near-capacity crowd inside one of the toughest venues in mid-major hoops.

The Paladins finished the contest shooting 58.3% from the field (35-of-60), while holding the Bruins to just 45.3% (29-of-64) shooting for the game, d Furman showed why it was the preseason SoCon favorite for a majority of the evening against a good opponent from the Missouri Valley Conference, and the win resembled in some ways the Paladins’ 87-63 win over former Missouri Valley foe Loyola-Chicago some three years earlier at Timmons Arena.

Leading the way for the Paladins were four players in double figures, with Mike Bothwell leading all scorers with 25 points, while Jalen Slawson added his first double-double of the 2022-23 season and the 11th of his career, totaling 17 points and 12.

The native of Summerville, S.C., also dished out five assists and recorded three steals. Among the many highlights for the Furman’s above-the-rim display on Friday night was Slawson’s aerial array of dunks, with one of those being an alley-oop reverse slam off a lob from Bothwell late in the opening half of play.

Rounding out the Paladins in double figures were Garrett Hien and Marcus Foster, who added 13 and 11 points, respectively to round out the double-figure scorers for the Paladins.
Bothwell finished the contest connecting on 10-of-17 shots from the field and was 5-for-6 from the charity stripe to equal his game-high 25 points. Bothwell also added six rebounds, dished out three assists and tallied a steal.

Slawson finished by scoring 13 of his 17 points in the second half of play and finished connecting on 6-of-10 shots from the field and like Bothwell, connected on 5-of-6 free throws. Hien came up particularly impressive in the second half for the Paladins in one stretch, which saw the Paladins take control of the game down the stretch. He finished the contest by connecting on 5-of-6 shots from the field.

Belmont also finished the game with four players in double figures, with Cade Tyson and Ben Sheppard leading the scoring totals for a second-straight game for the Bruins, posting a team-high 18 points. Drew Friberg, a graduate transfer from Princeton, added 17 points and freshman guard Ja’Kobi Gillespie rounded out the double-figure scorers with 13 points.

The Paladins won the game on the scoreboard as a result of winning some key statistical battles in decisive fashion, including winning owning the boards, as Furman claimed a 42-22 advantage on the backboards, including 11 offensive rebounds, which led to a 12-5 advantage in second chance points. It helped the Paladins overcome an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers, as the Bruins ended the night owning a 15-10 advantage in second-chance points.

The Paladins also owned a decisive advantage in points in the paint (52-32) and added advantages in total assists (20-8) and fast-break points (16-7) Belmont held a slight advantage in bench scoring (23-21).

Furman came out running and was the aggressor of the game from the opening tip, racing out to an early 10-5 lead over the opening 4:11 of the contest, and established a fast and furious pace from the outset of the matchup between a pair of high-caliber mid-major programs. It was a pace that Belmont head coach Casey Alexander and his Bruins had to figure how a way to slow down.

The Paladins used a Slawson jumper in the paint, and a J.P. Pegues layup in transition to help establish the pace of the game. Belmont got points on a layup from Ja’Kobi Gillespie and a three-pointer from Drew Friberg in the opening four minutes, to equal its first total at first media timeout. Slawson got the Paladin fan base off its feet for the first of several Timmons Arena.

The Bruins would trim an 11-point Furman lead to just two over the next three-and-a-half minutes, with Sheppard coming to life shooting the basketball from the perimeter, as nine of the next of 11 points for the Bruins came on three-pointers, with two from Sheppard. Sheppard added a layup and Cade Tyson provided another three during the 11-2 Bruins run, as Sheppard’s second triple in the flurry cut Furman’s lead to just one possession, at 21-19, with 8:13 remaining.

After Mike Bothwell stretched Furman’s lead back to four on the next possession, the Bruins continued to put the pressure on from three-point range, with Drew Friberg canning one of his four three-pointers in the game, cutting the Paladins’ lead back to a point, at 23-22.

After nearly scoreless minutes, Belmont assumed what was its first lead since the score was 5-2 when Sheppard connected on one of his four first-half threes with 5:42 remaining to give the Bruins a 25-23 lead. The Paladins tied the game moments later when Garrett Hien got his own rebound off a missed initial shot and put it in off the glass, tying the game, 25-25, with just over five minutes remaining in the first half.

The Bruins wouldn’t go away easily, however, as Friberg pump-faked Slawson to free up space to hit a three from the top of the key with 4:37 remaining in the half to make it a 28-25 Belmont lead. That lead wouldn’t last long, as Marcus Foster hit one of the bigger shots of the night to tie the game, 28-28, with 4:20 remaining. Evan Brauns scored on a layup in the lane with 3:55 left to put Belmont back up two.

Carter Whitt responded with a three from the left elbow just in front of the students section on the opposite side of the court 15 seconds later, giving the Paladins the lead back by a single point, 31-30.

Slawson came up with one of his three steals on the day and he found Mike Bothwell in the open floor with the pass, and he converted the layup to increase Furman’s lead back to three, 33-30, with 2:52 left. 

After the Bruins got a layup in the paint from JaKobi Gillespie, it set the stage for one of the highlights of the night, as Bothwell returned the favor to Slawson, lobbing a perfectly time alley-oop to Slawson, who caught it baseline before converting the reverse slam and bringing the better than 2,000 in attendance to a loud roar and giving the Paladins a 35-32 lead.

Belmont promptly tied the basketball game when Isaiah Walker connected on three with 1:29 remaining. Friberg and Bothwell would trade baskets to close out the half as the two teams headed to the half all tied, 37-37.

In the second half, the two teams play a tense opening eight minutes, with Furman never able to assume larger than a four point lead, and actually trailed 44-42 at the first media timeout of the second half following a Cade Tyson layup to make it a 44-42 game with 15:42 remaining. With the Paladins leading 52-50 with a little over 10 minutes remaining, Furman’s Carter Whitt answered a Sheppard layup with one of the home team’s eight triples in the contest, increasing the lead to five.

A big defensive stop from the Paladins, and a pair of Slawson foul shots after he was fouled on a jumper in the lane increased the Paladin lead to its largest to that stage of the second half, at 57-50, with 9:43 remaining. Friberg then answered with a three 10 seconds later, getting it back to a two-possession game. A Whitt layup put Furman back up six, setting the stage for what was the turning point of the game.

Leading 56-50, Furman’s Hien re-entered the lineup with 8:24 remaining, and he would play a pivotal role on both ends in allowing the Paladins to take complete control of the basketball game. In a sequence of 32 seconds, Hien registered a layup, blocked a shot, and canned a three-pointer to stake Furman to a double-digit lead, matching their largest of the night, which came in the opening half, as his triple gave the Paladins a 64-53 lead with 7:18 remaining.

Furman would see its lead dip below double-digits only once more the remainder of the game, with a Tyson jumper getting the Bruins to within nine (65-56) with just under six minutes remaining.

Fittingly, it was a trio of Slawson dunks that capped the Furman win in emphatic fashion. The first came off a missed Marcus Foster layup attempt, as the ball caromed off the front rim and right into the on-coming path of Slawson, who hammered home the follow dunk with authority, sealing his 11th double-double performance of his career, and giving the Paladins a 79-65 lead with 1:46 left.

The second dunk came just nine seconds later, as he drove baseline to finish off a two-handed stuff to make it an 81-68 Paladin lead. The third came with just 20 seconds remaining, and provided the final points of the contest, as Slawson took a feed from Pegues and drove baseline for the one-handed tomahawk jam to provide the final score of 89-74.

The Paladins were highly efficient in all areas in the early-season statement win, including shooting the three-point ball. Furman finished the contest making 8-of-19 long-range attempts to finish connecting on an impressive 42.1% of their shots from three-point land. The Bruins went 12-for-31 from long range to finish off a 38.7% shooting effort from long range.

Furman graduate senior forward Jalen Slawson

Fresh off the huge win over Belmont, the Paladins headed to the Low Country of South Carolina to take part one of college basketball’s most prestigious in-season basketball tournaments, as Furman was invited to take part in the ESPN Events Charleston Classic at TD Arena–home of the College of Charleston. Furman was one of eight teams taking part in the tournament, joining South Carolina, Colorado State, Old Dominion, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Davidson and College of Charleston. 

Smiling friendly faces was one of the main features of the weekend, with well-respected coaches like former Paladin boss Niko Medved on-hand coaching the Colorado State Rams, while others like former Wofford head coach Mike Young (Virginia Tech) and former Chattanooga Mocs head coach Lamont Paris (South Carolina) were on-hand to try and lead their teams to an early-season confidence-building tournament championship. 

Pat Kelsey and the College of Charleston’s strong season would begin right here with this tournament, as ultimately, the Cougars, who finished the season with a school-record 31 wins, would get their season off and rolling by winning the Charleston Classic for the first time in program history.

Game 3 vs. Penn State (L, 68-73/Charleston Classic)

For Bob Richey’s Furman Paladins, the first test in the Low Country came against the Penn State Nittany Lions and one of college basketball’s rising young head coaches, in Micah Shrewsbury.  The Nittany Lions were an unconventional Big Ten team that loved to shoot the three, and were one of the smaller power six programs along the front line coming into the season.

In fact, Furman would actually have the size advantage against the Big Ten foe. Penn State would turn out to be one of the best teams the Paladins would end up facing during the 2022-23 campaign, and the Nittany Lions came out and tried to deliver an early knockout blow, leading by as much as 21 points in the opening half of play. 

Penn State connected on 6-of-13 three-pointers in the opening half, connecting on 54.8% of its shots from the field to go to the halftime locker room leading 46-29.

The Nittany Lions held a 21-point lead on two occasions, however, with the Paladins trailing 46-25 following a Jalen Pickett basket with 90 seconds remaining in the half, the Paladins would take a small amount of momentum into the half by scoring the final four points of the half on layups by Slawson and Bothwell, trailing by 17 at the half.

To Furman’s credit, they fought and clawed their way back into the game, and late in the second half, gave themselves to go ahead of the eventual Big Ten Tournament runner-up, using some sharp perimeter shooting from some unlikely contributors to give themselves a chance at pulling off a win late.

Trailing 69-63 with 2:28 remaining, Mike Bothwell hit Jalen Slawson, who flashed to the basket on a pick-and-roll and slammed it home with two hands to cut the Nittany Lions lead to just four, at 69-65. 

Following an Andrew Funk missed three-pointer after a timeout, Furman’s Tyrese Hughey knocked down a three on the other end to bring the Paladins to within a point, at 69-68, which is close as the game had been since the score was 10-9 Nittany Lions with 15:15 remaining in the opening half of play.

After Hughey responded with another three, Penn State’s Lundy countered with a basket to take Penn State’s lead back to three, at 71-68, with 1:22 remaining. The Paladins called timeout with 1:04 remaining, and head coach Bob Richey drew up a play for Mike Bothwell. 

Bothwell’s long-range effort was freed up by a beautiful screen at the top of the key, however, his three-pointer went almost all the way down in the hoop before rimming out, leaving the deficit at three.

Furman’s defense, however, did its job on the other end and got the stop it needed to give the Paladins another shot to trim the Penn State lead to one or tie the contest with a three.

The Paladins would have a couple of chances to connect on the game-tying three-pointer, but J.P. Pegues’ three hit back iron, but Hughey came up with the rebound and the ball found its way to Bothwell once again, and just as before, Bothwell’s three-point was three-fourths of the way down before rimming out, and Penn State’s Lundy came up with the ball and had to immediately be fouled with six seconds remaining. Lundy knocked down both ends of the 1-and-1 to provide the final points of the game, as the Nittany Lions held on for the win.

Mike Bothwell played his heart out, leading all scorers with 26 points, however, it wasn’t enough to overcome Penn State’s Pickett and Lundy, who poured in 20 points apiece to lead the Nittany Lions to the five-point, 73-68, win. 

Penn State finished the game by connecting on 45.8% (27-of-59) of its shots from the field for the game, which included a 40.7% (11-of-27) from three-point land.

The Paladins finished the contest hitting 42.2% (27-of-64) of their shots from the field, while finishing 32.4% (11-of-34) from three-point range.

Furman finished holding advantages in points in the paint (28-20), second-chance points (13-8), total rebounds (40-32), bench points (21-18), and fast-break points (8-3). Penn State claimed advantages in total assists (16-14) and points from turnovers (12-8).

Mike Bothwell finished scoring a game-high 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field, which included a 3-for-10 shooting effort from three-point land. He was also 3-for-4 from the free throw line, and as a team, the Paladins were 3-of-7 from the stripe. Bothwell also added rebounds and four assists to a third-straight strong performance to start out the 2022-23 season.

Tyrese Hughey matched his previous career-high established last time out against Belmont, and finished with his first-career double-double, adding 15 points and 11 rebounds. Hughey went 6-for-8 from the field, including going 3-for-5 from three-point land.

“I only hit three three-pointers all of last year and I just hit three tonight, so that’s tied and J-Ly (assistant coach Jordan Lyons) been in the gym all off-season at like 5:30 in the morning after coming back from my hip surgery and I haven’t been as athletic, but I have been working on my three-pointer,” Tyrese Hughey said of his shooting performance against the Nittany Lions.

Jalen Slawson also finished off his third-straight double-digit scoring effort to start the season, with 10 points, seven assists, six rebounds and a steal.

“It was a tough loss and I wish we could have that first half back, but that second half run showed a lot about this team and what this program is about and we fought and definitely made a statement today and Penn State is going to leave knowing who we are and there’s definitely no moral victories in this program and we’re definitely far past the point where we’re comfortable losing by single digits to a high major, but this definitely going to be something we can look back on down in the season where we can say we were down before to a good team and we can come back again,” senior guard Mike Bothwell said.

“As a coach, on the sidelines you watch them hit everything and feel like it’s an avalanche. To see your team stay in there and just be resilient, that’s the sign of a good team,” Furman head coach Bob Richey said. “We’re way past moral victories, but it does give you hope to see a team get down like that and not lay down. We will respond tomorrow. We’ve got to come out and fight.”

Game 4 vs. Old Dominion (L, 77-82/Charleston Classic)

Unfortunately for the Paladins, the loss to Penn State would carry over to the next game against a solid Old Dominion team.

Like Belmont, the Monarchs were headed for a new conference home, as the Monarchs were heading into the Sun Belt Conference after being a highly-successful member of the CAA for 32 years. The Monarchs were coached by someone that most around ACC basketball would recognize, as Jeff Jones–the former Virginia Cavaliers head coach, who recruited the likes of Bryant Stith, Curtis Staples, Harold Deane and Corey Alexander to Charlottesville–was now in the twilight of his coaching career at the helm of the Monarchs’ program. 

Tyreek Scott-Grayson scored a game-high 26 points to lead Old Dominion to an 82-77 win over Furman in the first consolation semifinal of the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic Friday afternoon at TD Arena.

The two-game losing skid by the Paladins obviously what was not head coach Bob Richey had hoped for when he signed the Paladins up for the tournament in the week following the 2022 heartbreaking defeat in the championship game in Asheville. 

It was the first time all season that the Paladins’ defensive effort had not been up to snuff, and that would become somewhat of a concerning trend at intermittent times during non-conference play the early portions of conference play as well. 

A notably frustrated Richey–hoarse from having an animated, 45-minute conversation with his team in the locker room immediately following the game, as Scott Keeler (Furman Sports Report) and I waited to interview coach Richey. 

When the Paladins headed into their locker room after the game, Mike Bothwell and Jalen Slawson were greeted by former Wofford head coach Mike Young, as the class-act Young–the former legendary coach of Wofford–had the time to ask about Bothwell’s family and wish the two talented players luck the rest of the tournament. 

In similar fashion to Thursday’s opening game against Penn State, Furman got off to a slow start offensively, and a hot-shooting Monarchs took advantage and after a tense opening few moments, were able to create a nice cushion and force the Paladins to chase the game for much of the afternoon.

The Monarchs would lead by as many as 20 points in the second half, as Imo Essien made a pair of free throws to put the Monarchs ahead 67-47 with 8:41 remaining in the contest. For a second-straight day at the Charleston Classic, it looked as if Furman might suffer its first decisive loss to an opponent on the hardwood in quite some time, however, once again, the ‘Dins showed the kind of fight that a quality basketball program should.

Jalen Slawson ignited what would turn out to be a 15-2 run when converted a jump shot to cut the Old Dominion lead to 18. 

That would be followed by five-straight points from point guard J.P. Pegues, as he got a steal and a dunk in transition, and then following a Monarchs turnover, Pegues connected on a three-pointer on the other end to get the Paladins to within 67-54 with 7:33 remaining. 

The only points for Old Dominion during the Furman run came off a turnover by the Paladins, as Chaunce Jenkins converted a baby jumper in the lane to take the Monarchs lead back to 15 pts, at 69-54.

A Slawson three-point play the old-fashioned way and a Mike Bothwell three-pointer cut into the Monarchs lead even further, and got Furman to within nine, at 69-60, with 5:45 remaining in the contest. 

Following a Jenkins turnover, Marcus Foster baby hook just outside the paint got the Paladins even closer, at 69-62, with 5:15 remaining. The Monarchs would finally break the feisty Paladin press on the next possession, as Mehki Long broke free for a dunk to take the Old Dominion lead back to nine.

 “The confidence that the coaches have had in me and my family have played a big part for me and I know this year I have some big shoes to fill behind Alex Hunter a senior guard last year and they have all just kind of given me the confidence and freedom to go be able to make mistakes early and it’s new for me and I didn’t play well my first two games, but as the season goes on and it’s a long season, I feel like I will be all right,” Pegues added.

on both shots from the line, getting the Paladins back to within seven with 28 seconds left. Following a Stanley turnover, Pegues got the ball out top and made a high-arching three from deep to get the Paladins to within four, however, that’s as close as Furman would get the rest of the away. Jenkins closed out the Monarchs win by converting 1-of-2 from the line after being fouled by Marcus Foster.

The Monarchs posted 15 assists on 31 made field goals and shot a blistering 64.6% (31-of-48) from the field for the game, including 53.8% (7-of-13) from three-point range, which was contrasted by Furman’s 16 assists on 27 made field goals, as the Paladins finished the contest by connecting on 45.8% (27-of-59) of its shots from the field and connected on 36.4% (12-of-33).

The Monarchs finished the day holding advantages in points in the paint (36-26), second-chance points (6-5), fast-break points (16-13) and bench points (12-5), while Furman held the advantage in points from turnovers (25-14). The Monarchs also held a sizable advantage on the glass, finishing plus-14 (36-22) on the backboards.

Smith-Grayson was one of four Monarchs in double figures, with his game-high 26 points on 9-of-14 from the field and 2-for-5 from three-point range, while Essien and Stanley added 13 points apiece. Long finished out the Old Dominion players in double figures with 11.

Furman was led by Mike Bothwell for the third-straight game, as he posted his third-straight 20-point scoring performance, finishing with 23 points on 9-of-15 shots from the field and 4-of-7 from three-point range. The senior from Cleveland Heights, OH, also added five assists and two rebounds.

Pegues added a career-high 20 points on 7-of-14 from the field and 4-for-10 from three, and matched Bothwell with five assists and a pair of rebounds. Pegues has strung together a pair of strong performances playing the point for the Paladins.

“Our response today in this game should have been way earlier in my opinion…They [Old Dominion] came out and were the aggressor and they had more energy than us and at the end of the day, they kind of punched us in the mouth a little bit and then we had to respond and in a perfect we want to be the aggressor and throw the first punch, but and I feel like we had to do what we had to do in the second half but in the end it was too little too.”

Pegues has had to make the adjustment to playing the point guard for the first time in his career, and add to that, he is following in the footsteps in one of the best point guards in the history of Furman basketball—Alex Hunter. Pegues is clearly adjusting nicely to his new role as he gets more experience, however, and his confidence has noticeably grown with each start at the point.

“The confidence that the coaches have had in me and my family have played a big part for me and I know this year I have some big shoes to fill behind Alex Hunter a senior guard last year and they have all just kind of given me the confidence and freedom to go be able to make mistakes early and it’s new for me and I didn’t play well my first two games, but as the season goes on and it’s a long season, I feel like I will be all right,” Pegues added.

Furman junior Garrett Hien (photo courtesy of Furman athletics)

Game 5 vs. South Carolina (W, 79-60/Charleston Classic)

Furman would have a day off after its loss to Old Dominion to try and regroup before facing off against power six conference foe South Carolina. It would mark the first game the Paladins would have against the Gamecocks since the 2010-11 campaign, which saw the Paladins win going way just before Christmas at Timmons Arena, plcking up what was a 91-75 win before a raucous crowd. 

This time around, the Paladins would face a Gamecocks team that had lost its first two tournament games against Colorado State (L, 53-85) and Davidson (L, 60-69) to open the tournament. 

Lamont Paris, who when he was coach at Chattanooga, went 3-7 against Furman head coach Bob Richey, winning all three of those games in his final season as the head coach of the Mocs before moving on to become head coach of South Carolina.

The paths of Richey and Paris were destined to cross again less than a year after the classic championship game in Asheville. While Paris had turned a project into a miracle at Chattanooga, his challenge was arguably tougher in charge at South Carolina. Both he and Richey were interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at South Carolina the previous spring.

Furman would come out and play its best basketball of the Charleston Classic, despite the morning tip-off. Furman ended up notching its second-straight win over the Gamecocks, getting what was a dominating 79-60 win over the Gamecocks before a good crowd on hand to see the Paladins play in their final game of the tournament. 

The Paladins got a big afternoon out of Garrett Hien, who led four Paladins in double figures, posting a career-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, which included a 3-for-4 effort from three-point range. 

Hien scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half, and also added five rebounds and dished out three assists.

oining Hien in double figures in the win were Jalen Slawson (14 pts, 7 rebs), Tyrese Hughey (12 pts) and Mike Bothwell (11 pts). By scoring double figures in all three games in the Low Country, Bothwell was named to the Shriners Children’s Classic All-Tournament team.

In the losing effort, the Gamecocks would be paced in scoring by NBA prospect and freshman phenom G.G. Jackson, who posted 19 points and six rebounds. The only other Gamecocks player to find his way into double figures in the contest was Chico Carter Jr., who finished with 17. 

South Carolina actually got off to the faster start in the game, rushing out to an early 11-4 lead. If there was one play that signaled a change in the game, it came with South Carolina still leading the contest 16-11. 

Hien would be the one to make the play, as he out-hustled the Gamecocks’ defense down the floor following a South Carolina made layup. It would spark what would be a 19-2 run by the ‘Dins, as Furman raced out to a 30-18 advantage with 6:35 left in the half by the time the run had come to an end. 

The Gamecocks would put together a mini spurt over the final six-and-a-half minutes in the opening frame, cutting the defiict to seven at the break, out-scoring the Paladins 13-8 and trailed just 38-31 at the break.

Early in the second half, Hughey stole a pass and ran it down before stuffing it with two hands on the other end, staking the Paladins to an apparent comfortable, 49-36, lead.

However, South Carolina continued to try to get back in the game, trimming the margin to eight twice, but on the second occasion, Hughey’s triple with 12:31 remaining would give the Paladins double-digit lead, which the Paladins would not relinquish the remainder of the game. Hien would connect on five of his six shots in the second half, and the Paladins grew their lead to as many as 20 points. 

Furman finished the contest by connecting on 50.8% (30-of-59), which included an impressive 44.4% (12-for-27) shooting performance from three-point range. 

The Paladins, meanwhile, held the Gamecocks to 44.9% (22-of-49) from the field, while limiting South Carolina to just a 22.2% (7-of-22) from beyond the arc. 

Furman finished off the win by holding advantages in points in the paint (32-24), bench points (31-12), points from turnovers (23-7), total rebounds (34-24), and total assists (22-13). 

The two teams were even in second-chance points (10-10). Furman’s win over the Gamecocks marked its second win over an SEC team since the start of the 2006-07 season, having defeated both Vanderbilt (W, 70-62) and had that aforementioned win over South Carolina (W, 91-75) back in 2010. 

College of Charleston would go on to claim the Charleston Classic for the first time in its history, as the Cougars knocked off Davidson (W, 89-66), Colorado State (W, 74-64) and Virginia Tech (W, 77-75) in the championship game. 

Furman’s win over South Carolina meant the Paladins finished seventh in the eight-team tournament field. 

Furman’s second-straight win in the series over the Gamecocks marked the first time since the 1964-65 season, which the Paladins have managed to accomplish that feat. Furman knocked off South Carolina by scores 79-71 and 81-66, respectively.

The Paladins closed out the opening month of the 2022-23 season with a pair of games against Tusculum and with their first true road test of the season, facing a good Appalachian State team in Boone. 

Game 6 vs. Tusculum (W, 102-74)

Furman would make easy work of the Tusculum Pioneers, reaching the century mark on the scoreboard for the 13th time in Bob Richey’s sixth season as the head coach, and first of two times during the 2022-23 season, as the Paladins would aend up picking up a 102-74 win over the Pioneers in just the second all-time meeting between the programs and first since 2020. 

It marked Furman’s second win over a Non-Division I foe in the opening month of the season, and was the second of what would be three total wins over non-Division I foes during the 2022-23 regular-season. 

The Paladins were led in the Black Friday win over the Pioneers by Marcus Foster, who posted a career-high 22 points in leading the ‘Dins to a resounding win. It marked the first of four 20-point scoring games of the season for Foster. 

Jalen Slawson ended the afternoon by posting his 12th double-double of his standout career, posting 22 points and 10 rebounds, as he tied Foster for game-high scoring honors. Mike Bothwell and Tyrese Hughey rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Paladins in the win, posting 18 and 15 points, respectively.

The Paladins took control of the basketball game in the opening half of play, as Furman went on a 32-4 run to help get out to a fast start and never looked back en route to the win. Furman blistered the nets at a 73.3% clip in the opening half of play, marking the highest shooting percentage for a half in the 2022-23 season. In the opening half alone, the Paladins put up 57, while holding their lower division opposition opposition from the Volunteer State to just 27. The win also marked the 29th out of its last 30 non-conference home wins inside the friendly confines of Timmons Arena.

Much like South Carolina had done in the final game of the Charleston Classic, Tusculum was able to start fast against Furman, and actually held a 15-11 lead following a Connor Jordan made three with 13:44 remaining in the half.

Furman would score the next eight points on a pair of Foster free throws, and back-to-back three-pointers from Jonny Lawrence and Slawson to take an 18-15 lead, and that would allow the Paladins to take complete control of the basketball game. 

The 32-4 spurt eventually ended with a JP Pegues bucket at the three-minute mark of the first half. The Paladins went to the halftime locker room holding an impressive 30-point, 57-27 lead. 

The 57 points marked the highest point total in a half for the 2022-23 season. The Paladins’ offensive onslaught featured an en fuego start, connecting on 18 of its first 20 field goal attempts as a team from the field. 

The Paladins held sizable advantages in most of the significant categories on the stats sheet, as one have expected, utilizing dominant performances in points in the paint (56-30), points off turnovers (20-8), and got a whopping 47 points from the bench in posting what was its fourth win of the season. 

Furman also finished its explosive Black Friday offensive onslaught by shooting 60% () from the field for the game, which included an 11-for-19 effort from three-point range, and also were an impressive 13-of-15 from the charity stripe. 

The Pioneers would finish the contest placing four players in double figures, led by Kobe Funderburk with 14, while Inady Legiste added 13 and KJ Crump and Connor Jordan rounded out Tusculum’s double-digit scoring performers, with 12 and 10 points, respectively. 

Game 7: at Appalachian State (W, 65-61)

Furman survived its first road test of the season at gritty Appalachian State (photo courtesy of App State athletics)

Furman’s final game of the opening month of the season offered the Paladins’ first true road test. The Paladins were in Boone to take on a good Appalachian State basketball team four days after having their way against Non-Division I member Tusculum.

It would turn out to be one of Furman’s top defensive performances of the season. It would be the first of two solid defensive performances along the Tennessee-North Carolina corridor, and the Paladins would even have to overcome a little adversity in the process. 

The Paladins would go on the road and come away from the Holmes Center with a 65-61 win over the Mountaineers, and even had to overcome a deficit late in the contest to come away with the win. 

Mike Bothwell posted a game-high 23 points, and Furman weathered a 17-0 second-half run from Appalachian State, as the Paladins held off the Mountaineers, 65-61, in a battle between two old Southern Conference rivals before a rowdy crowd of just under 2,000 fans at the Holmes Convocation Center.

The Paladins won their third-straight game to improve to 5-2 overall on the young season, while the Mountaineers fell to 5-3. The Mountaineers, who knocked off Southern Conference member East Tennessee State, 74-70, in Johnson City last week, were aiming to post their second-straight win over a former league foe. However, in the end, it would be Furman that would help the SoCon clinch its first win over a Sun Belt foe in the 2022-23 basketball season, as Appalachian’s former conference affiliation improved to 1-4 against its current one.

The Paladins seemed to in complete control of the game midway through the second half, holding a seemingly safe, 52-40, lead following a Mike Bothwell layup in the paint with 10:57 left.

However, Appalachian State head coach Dustin Kerns, who is now somewhat as a defensive mastermind, made some adjustments on both ends, which helped the now Sun Belt member storm back into the contest, and caused a somewhat slumbering crowd of a listed 1,976 fans come to life inside the somewhat cavernous 8,300-seat Holmes Convocation Center come to life, as the Apps held the Paladins scoreless for a 6:03 stretch in the second half and took as much as a five-point, 57-52, lead after Mountaineer forward C.J. Huntley knocked down a pair of free throws with 6:04 remaining.

“Credit them. They fought…They were down 16 and could have basically said ‘it’s just not our night’ and you know I think Dustin [Kerns] made some key adjustments and they went to a three round two dribble drive [motion offense] and to be honest you don’t really see teams doing that a lot anymore and I thought it was pretty clever on their part,” Furman head coach Bob Richey said.

“They went to the zone a little while on this end [the defensive end] to kind of get us out of rhythm and it did and then the crowd got into it a little bit and they took the lead and it was a 21-point swing and you know it’s a forty minute game and our team responded and we threw one more punch at the end and we got the win,” Richey added.

The punch thrown by the Paladins was a counterpunch in the form of an 11-0 spurt by the visitors from Greenville in response to the 17-0 run punch landed by the hometown Mountaineers. Furman did indeed have a plan for when it got punched in the mouth by its former league rival on the road to survive its first serious true road test of the season in a game that had that old feeling a key February mid-week conference tilt at times down the stretch on Tuesday night in the High Country.

Following Huntley’s two free throw makes with just over six minutes left to play, the Paladins faced their largest deficit of the entire evening—five points (57-52)—and the collective response was one that went according to script for a veteran, mature basketball team picked to win its league in the preseason, and at the forefront of leadership just happened to be a couple of Paladin wily veterans, in senior guard Mike Bothwell and senior forward Jalen Slawson, who have seen a thing or two a time or two in their respective Furman careers.

Following Huntley’s made foul shots, Marcus Foster missed a three for the Paladins, which was followed by a Donovan Gregory missed jumper for the Mountaineers, and it was one of Garrett Hien’s key rebounds down the stretch—this one on the defensive end of the floor—that gave Furman yet another opportunity to get back to within a possession on the road with just under five minutes to play. Hien’s work on both the offensive and defensive glass late in the game proved vital.

Hien, who is a native of the Queen City of Charlotte, was no doubt playing in front of some friends and family, as they likely made the short trek of just over an hour to see him play in the key early-season, non-conference battle, posted six points to go with 10 rebounds.

The 6-9 junior forward was especially on the offensive glass. Furman, which did not have an offensive rebound in the opening 20 minutes of basketball, snagged nine in the second half alone, with Hien corralling nearly half, as he finished with four offensive caroms. All told, Hien would record seven of his 10 total rebounds in the second half, with several of those coming in key moments down the stretch of the game.  

Following Hien’s rebound, the ball found its way to Jalen Slawson, and it was Slawson that would start the Paladins on what would be the decisive late-game run, and as you might expect according to how it should be scripted in the order of things, it was Bothwell who ended it. Slawson finished with his 13th-career double-double (16 pts, 12 rebs) and the win, and the bucket that ignited Furman’s run was a tough running one-handed jumper as he crossed through the lane with just under five minutes left to help the Paladins snap a six-minute scoring drought to get back to within one possession, at 57-54, with 4:54 remaining.

Slawson’s veteran leadership was also prove vital on the defensive end of the floor on Appalachian’s ensuing possession with the basketball, knocking the ball free from Mountaineer sophomore guard Terence Harcum for one of his three steals in the contest, showcasing why he was the SoCon’s top defensive performer in 2021-22.

Furman’s other veteran leader Mike Bothwell followed accordingly, and the Paladins were starting to smell blood in the water. He drove to the basket and nearly saw his baby jumper fall in the act of being fouled only to see it roll out. However, the senior from Cleveland Heights, OH, would get to shoot a pair of charity shots following the foul whistled against App State’s Gregory. He would make both as part of his 10-for-10 performance front the stripe in the game, including going 8-for-8 in the second half. Furman was with a point, at 57-56, with 4:34 remaining.

Following a missed foul shot by Appalachian’s Carvell Teasett after he couldn’t convert the front end of a one-and-one following a J.P. Pegues foul, Slawson grabbed the defensive rebound and after Pegues missed a left elbow three, Bothwell crashed the glass for one of those nine offensive caroms Furman was able to outwork the Mountaineers for in the second half. That provided another key, vital scoring opportunity. Bothwell was then fouled in the act of shooting with 3:23 remaining. Following a media timeout, the senior calmly stroked home both free throws to put the Paladins back on top, 58-57.

Teasett’s attempt at a quick three to answer on the other end was no good, and after Slawson’s rebound, the ball found its way to Bothwell out top just right of center, and his three-pointer helped Furman now seize full momentum, as the Paladins pushed their lead to four, at 61-57, with 2:49 remaining.

On the other end, Appalachian suddenly could not find the form that had gotten them to within sights of a huge early-season non-conference win a little over three minutes earlier, as Harcum’s missed layup was agonizing for the partisan Mountaineer crowd on-hand. 

The carom once again fell into Paladin hands, with Marcus Foster this time grabbing the Mountaineer miss and the ball found its way to Bothwell, who saw a cutting Hien in the paint. Hien did the rest, using his body to seal off the defender and after using a wily head-fake, used the glass to kiss home a layup and extend Furman’s lead to 63-57 with 2:03 remaining.

Appalachian would finally put an end to a long scoring drought from the field, which spanned over five minutes, as Gregory’s short jumper with 1:49 remaining marked the Mountaineers’ first field goal since the 7:04 mark of the second half. More importantly, the bucket got Appalachian back to within four of the Paladins, at 63-59, as the Holmes Center began to get a little noisy once again, looking to rally the Black and Gold.

Following a pair of missed shots from the field from both Furman’s Pegues and Appalachian’s Gregory, the Paladins once again had the basketball—now under a minute left—with the opportunity to make the Mountaineers’ climb a little steeper, however, a missed layup by Bothwell resulted in a loose ball foul on Appalachian’s Harcum, which sent Pegues to the line for a one-and-one opportunity with 40 seconds remaining.

After missing the front end, Hien grabbed a key offensive rebound for the Paladins, however, his putback attempt was no good and the Mountaineers raced the other way. Gregory was then fouled on a layup attempt by Pegues with 32 seconds remaining. He made both his first foul shot to cut Furman’s lead to one possession, at 63-60. 

His second charity shot would end up being no good, however, the Mountaineers would get the ball back following the rebound attempt which ended up out of play. 

After a short review after the ball touched Furman’s Foster last before going out of bounds and the Mountaineers would have the ball near midcourt, where they would inbound the basketball. With a chance to get within a point or potentially tie the game with a three, however, Slawson once again came up with a huge defensive play, poking the ball free from Gregory for another of Furman’s 10 steals on the night, which rendered the Mountaineers no opportunity to even shoot the basketball.

Slawson was immediately fouled by Huntley with 20 seconds remaining, sending the senior to the line with the opportunity to potentially make the game academic if he could knock down both ends of the one-and-one opportunity. However, he could not, missing the first and Appalachian’s Gregory rebounded the ball and sprinted up the floor, however, a foul by Bothwell sent him back to the line with 10 seconds remaining. 

Gregory made the first to get Appalachian to within two, at 63-61, however, his miss on the second one was rebounded by Slawson, who then quickly got the ball to Bothwell who was fouled with seconds seconds left. Bothwell left no doubt, connecting on both free throws to seal a tough, 65-61, road win for the visitors.

Furman’s final points of the evening would come from the charity stripe, and fittingly, from Bothwell, who showed up huge down the stretch for the Paladins in the key road win. His two free throws with six seconds remaining sealed the four-point road win.

Over the final five minutes, Bothwell scored nine of Furman’s final 13 points, and handed out one of his three assists on one of the other two made field goals during that final stretch, as the senior factored in on nearly every offensive possession as a scorer or facilitator down the stretch for Furman.

Both teams had trouble finding their shooting touch in the opening eight minutes of the contest of the contest, with Furman jumping out to 7-2 lead on a three by JP Pegues, a layup by Tyrese Hughey and two foul shots from Mike Bothwell. However, the Mountaineers would hold the Paladins scoreless for over five minutes to tie the ballgame on a free throw by Dibaju Walker.  

Sparked by an 8-0 run, which was highlighted by a pair of dunks in transitions of Paladin steals, Furman would close the half especially strong Mountaineers 25-12 over the final 12 minutes of the frame to take a comfortable 32-19 lead into the break. Furman played some of its best defense in stretches in Tuesday night’s win over the Mountaineers, and it showed up especially in the opening half of play, as Furman scored nearly half its points off Mountaineer turnovers, converting 10 Mountaineer miscues into 15 first-half points.

The Paladins would see their lead their lead grow as large as 16 early in the second half, following one of two Jalen Slawson three-pointers in the contest.

The Mountaineers held the Paladins without an offensive rebound in the opening half of play, but Furman would respond in the second half by snagging nine key offensive rebounds, which contributed to seven second-chance points in a game, and in a game decided by four points, proved to be a pivotal contributing factor in getting the important road win.

“Something we worked on in the off-season in particular was how we rebounded, and we’ve did a lot of unique stuff in the off-season to prepare ourselves to be mental tougher when facing a good opponent like the one we faced tonight…this game will help us down the road,” Furman senior guard Mike Bothwell said.

Furman ended the night owning advantages in second-chance points (7-4), points from turnovers (21-17), points in the paint (30-27), fast-break points (17-10), and assists (18-7). The two teams were deadlocked, 37-37, on the glass.

The Paladins finished with 11 turnovers and 10 steals, while the Mountaineers turned the basketball over 17 times, with four takeaways.

The Paladins finished the contest connecting on just 38.1% (24-of-63) from the field, including only 24.1% (7-of-29) from the field. Furman, which shot a solid 83.3% from the charity stripe, saw Bothwell knock down all 10 Furman freebees, as he finished the night 10-for-12 from the stripe.

The Mountaineers finished the night connecting on 43.1% (22-of-51) from the field but were just 25.0% (5-for-20) from three. The Apps shot 66.7% (12-of-18) from the charity stripe, which included going 10-of-14 in the second half.

Bothwell finished the night connecting on 6-of-14 shots from the field and was also 1-of-5 from three-point land. As mentioned above, Bothwell was particularly aggressively offensively, especially down the stretch, as evidenced by his 10-for-12 effort from the line. His 23-point scoring performance marked his fourth 20-point scoring effort in seven games this season.

Slawson finished scoring 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, including 2-for-4 from long range. He also led the team with 12 boards and was one of two Paladins in double figures in total rebounds. He also added two assists, three steals and a block shot.

Rounding out double-figure scorers for the Paladins was Marcus Foster, who added 12 on a 5-for-12 effort from the field, which included a 2-of-7 connection rate from three-point land.

Appalachian placed three players in double figures, with Donovan Gregory leading the way with 14 points to go along with a team-high tying seven rebounds. Gregory was joined in double figures by Terence Harcum and CJ Huntley, who added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Summary of November:

In the opening month of the 2022-23 basketball season, which included five games against NCAA Division I competition. The Paladins ended up facing Belmont (21-11), Penn State (23-14), Old Dominion (19-12), South Carolina (11-21), and Appalachian State (16-16). Furman finished the month having faced two non-Division I foes, in both the North Greenville Crusaders (7-21) and Tusculum (16-11).

The first seven teams the Paladins faced during the 2022-23 college basketball season would finish with a combined record of 113-106, with Penn State, which was arguably the best team the Paladins faced during the regular-season, making the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the round of 32 before losing to Texas, 71-66.

Furman showed from the outset of the 2022-23 season that it could score the basketball. The Paladins amassed a total of 571 total points in the first month of the season, which converts to an average of 81.5 PPG. 

The Paladins had 134 assists on 218 made baskets in the opening month of the season, meaning 61.4% of Furman’s made field goals during the opening month of the season.

Furman, of course, had a new man running the point guard position to start the season, with Alex Hunter having graduated already. The Paladins were able to dish out 134 assists to just 78 total turnovers through the first seven games. 

The opposition combined to score 479 total points in seven games against the Paladins in the first seven games of the season, which equaled an average of 68.4 PPG. 

The Paladins shot the ball well all season, so it’s not a surprise that the Paladins finished the first seven games of the 2022-23 season by combining to connect on a excellent percentage of 49.8% (218-of-437) from the field, while making 35.4% (66-of-186) of their three-point field goals in the opening month.

How did the opposition shoot it might you ask? Pretty well, despite Furman’s overall success through the first seven games. The opposition connected on a combined 45.5% (183-of-402) from the field and shot a higher than the Paladins would like percentage from three-point land, connecting at a 36.4% clip (58-of-159) from beyond the arc. 

Head coach Bob Richey and his team knew that one of the differences between winning championship in 2022-23 and falling short would likely be defined by how the Paladins rebounded the basketball. 

The Paladins ended the first seven games with a total of 254 total rebounds, with 65 offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, opponents were able to pull down 177 total rebounds, which included 44 offensive rebounds. The Paladins were a plus 77 on the boards for the month.

Was their an outlier game (Good or Bad?)

The one outlier game seems to the contest against Old Dominion in the second game of the Charleston Classic, which saw the Paladins produce a season-low for total rebounds (22), as well as offensive rebounds (4). The Paladins also allowed a season-high shooting percentage for a game, connecting on a blistering 64.7% for the game.

Standout Performer:  Mike Bothwell


While November wasn’t one to remember for any major reason, other than maybe the win over South Carolina–one of two wins by the SoCon over power six opponents during the course of the season. It was a solid start with arguably some of the best competition of the season, including the Penn State game, which would end up being maybe the best opponent the Paladins would face the entire regular-season. The Paladins also picked up two of their biggest wins of the season, with victories over both Belmont and South Carolina. 

Stay tuned for part 3 coming in the next few weeks. Check out the PDF supplement below.


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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