CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern opens a stretch of three of four games at home Wednesday against Radford. Tipoff at the Buc Dome is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Big South Network.
CSU (4-11, 0-4 Big South) had a furious rally fall just short in a 79-75 loss Saturday at Gardner-Webb. The Bucs enjoyed perhaps their best offensive performance of the year in the prior contest at Campbell and are now looking to put together a complete effort.
Radford (8-8, 3-1 Big South) recovered from its first league loss to top Presbyterian, 76-63, on the road Saturday. The Highlanders posted a pair of impressive one-possession wins over UNC Asheville and at preseason favorite Winthrop to start conference play.
Cortez Mitchell helped key CSU's comeback bid against Gardner-Webb. Mitchell tallied 11 of his career-high 18 points in the second half and was an efficient 7-of-10 overall from the field. His play was a big reason the Bucs were nearly able to erase a 66-49 deficit over the final 11:01. Four different players scored during a 13-0 run that got CSU back into content for a road victory. Armel Potter's pull-up jumper with 2:05 remaining got the Bucs as close as one before the Runnin' Bulldogs held on.
CSU will likely have to rebound better to beat Radford, the Big South leader in rebounding margin and offensive rebounds. The Bucs sit third and second in those two categories, respectively, but were minus-five on the glass and allowed 58 points in the paint versus Gardner-Webb.
Caleb Tanner paces the Big South and ranks 26th nationally in three-point percentage, and is Radford's leading scorer at 10.8 PPG. Athletic forward Ed Polite, Jr., the conference leader in rebounds, averages 10.4 PPG and also ranks near the top of the league in offensive rebounds (2nd to CSU's Javis Howard), steals (4th) and minutes played (9th).
Wednesday's matchup is the first of two straight for CSU against teams amongst the early five-way tie for first-place in the Big South standings. UNC Asheville will come to the Buc Dome for a 5:30 p.m. clash on Saturday.
Thomas enjoys breakout week
CSU junior forward Jamal Thomas averaged 17.5 PPG while making his first two starts of the year last week. Thomas hit for a career-high 19 points at Campbell and followed up with 16 against Gardner-Webb. He was 7-for-12 from three-point range, including a 4-for-5 clip Saturday. Thomas buried two threes in the first 42 seconds to get the Bucs off to a hot start in that game. Thomas had 46 total points in his first 12 games of the year.
Radford is making its first trip to the Buc Dome since 2014-15. The Highlanders won the only matchup between the two teams last January at the Dedmon Center. CSU will looking to avenge back-to-back home losses in the series. The Bucs' last victory over Radford was a key road triumph that started a five-game winning streak during the Big South regular season title campaign in 2014-15.
Bucs get offense in gear
CSU played perhaps its best offensive game of the season against Campbell. The Bucs' 57 percent field goal mark was its highest this year against a Division I opponent, as was its 47 percent mark from downtown. Four players reached double figures scoring.
Howard still tops in offensive boards
CSU junior Javis Howard currently leads the Big South and ranks 34th nationally with 3.3 offensive rebounds per game. Almost 56 percent of Howard's rebounds this year have come on the offensive glass. Howard pulled down a career-high nine offensive boards in the league opener against Winthrop. He followed with a 14-point, nine-rebound effort against Liberty. Prior to those two games, Howard had collected just ten total rebounds in CSU's four prior contests.