CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern begins its home slate on Tuesday against Columbia International. Tipoff at the Buc Dome is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and will follow the women's game that starts at 5:30.
CSU is 73-26 on its home floor since 2009, including a 40-19 mark in Big South Conference play. Tuesday night's contest will be the CSU faithful's first chance to see a new-look team that includes seven newcomers, along with redshirt freshman Antwan Maxwell. The matchup also precedes two key games against USC Upstate (Nov. 19) and Abilene Christian (Nov. 22) that figure to provide an early measuring stick as to where the Bucs stand.
"We're really excited to get back in the Buc Dome and look forward to the fun, exciting atmosphere we've become accustomed to," said CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh. "Our players really thrive off the energy and it's a real advantage for us."
The Bucs come off an 88-67 loss at Florida State in Saturday's season opener. CSU hung tough with a Seminoles club ranked in the preseason top-25 by several major media outlets. Behind a strong start on both ends of the floor, the Bucs opened up an early 17-12 lead and trailed by just six at halftime. FSU went on an 11-0 run out of intermission, though, to pull away.
"We competed well and did some things that we can build on," Radebaugh said. "It's always a big challenge to go up against Florida State's length and athleticism so it forces you to be sharp. We'll keep working and growing as a team."
CSU has played Columbia International each of the last three years, postings victories by final margins of 60, 50 and 33. CIU competes in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) and is 2-2 on the season. The Rams enter off a win over Bob Jones University on Saturday.
CSU will be bidding for its 13th straight win in a home opener.
CSU had three first-time starters (Christian Keeling, Cortez Mitchell and Ugo Mmonu). Keeling and Mitchell made their CSU debuts, along with four others (Jordan Jones, Jamar Martin, Antwan Maxwell, Jamal Thomas).
Newcomers accounted for 49 of CSU's 67 points. Freshman Christian Keeling paced CSU with 16 points on an efficient 7-of-12 effort from the field. Junior Cortez Mitchell chipped in 14 points and a team-high four assists. Classmate Jamar Martin knocked down four three-pointers en route to 12 points and also added five rebounds.
CSU's game at Florida State marked the fourth straight year and fifth time in six years it has traveled to Tallahassee. The contest was the first of four for the Bucs against power conference opponents. CSU will also play Alabama (Nov. 29), Georgia (Dec. 17) and Virginia Tech (Dec. 20).