MBB PREVIEW: Bucs trek to Radford for midweek Big South matchup

MBB PREVIEW: Bucs trek to Radford for midweek Big South matchup

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern continues conference play this week as the Buccaneers make the trek to Radford, Va. and the Dedmon Center for a Thursday night matchup against the Big South-leading Radford Highlanders. Tipoff on ESPN+ is set for 7 p.m.

CSU MBB - at Radford Game Notes

The Buccaneers (7-10, 1-3 Big South) are coming off a tough loss to visiting Campbell this past Saturday in the Buc Dome. Chris Clemons hit the go-ahead three-pointer for the visiting Camels in the closing seconds of the game to spark the come-from-behind 73-72 win for Campbell.

It marked the second one-point loss for the Buccaneers in the Field House this season in Big South play, but the Bucs will look to turn it around Thursday against the Highlanders.

CSU's last trip to the Dedmon Center was a success for the Bucs as CSU pulled off the overtime thriller win over the Highlanders. Christian Keeling and the Bucs surged into the overtime period last season at Radford with the junior guard hitting a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left to force overtime. He followed up by scoring nine of CSU's 10 points in the extra session to power the Bucs to the road win over the Highlanders.

CSU fell behind by ten points in the first half, rallied to tie the game at halftime, led by eight points in the second half and lost a five-point lead late in regulation before recovering to persevere and hand Radford its first home loss. Keeling connected on the last two of his 17 free throws to put the Bucs ahead for good, 83-81, with 14 seconds remaining. The Highlanders' Ed Polite Jr. missed a potential game-winning three-pointer on the ensuing possession and Cortez Mitchell grabbed the rebound and made one free throw to salt away the victory.

The victory over the Highlanders propelled the Bucs to a late-season surge that extended into the postseason. CSU rattled off an impressive 7-2 mark over the second half of the Big South season on their way to advancing to the conference quarterfinals. The Bucs utilized the win over the Highlanders to pick up victories over High Point, Liberty, Presbyterian, Longwood, Campbell, and Winthrop on their way to finishing tied for fifth in the conference's regular season standings.

Game Quick Hits
>> Charleston Southern fell to 1-3 in Big South play this past weekend with a 73-72 loss to Campbell.

>> Christian Keeling posted his second consecutive double-double and sixth of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds against the Camels.

>> CSU and Radford split the season series last season with the Bucs winning at Dedmon in overtime, 84-81, while the Highlanders won in the Buc Dome, 64-61.

>> The last 10 games between the Buccaneers and Highlanders have been decided by single-digits dating back to December 1, 2011, when CSU topped RU, 83-73.

>> The Bucs snapped Radford's 14-game home winning streak last season with their overtime win over the Highlanders.

>> Radford is 8-0 at home this season and 3-0 in conference play in Dedmon with wins over Longwood, Presbyterian, and Gardner-Webb.

>> CSU is 1-7 on the road this year picking up their first victory on January 12 at Longwood (101-91).

>> The Bucs have played in three one-possession contests this year, but have an 0-3 mark in such games.

>> CSU leads the Big South in steals (9.1), turnover margin (+5.24), and offensive rebounds (14.9).

Radford Quick Hits
>>Defending Big South champion Radford was selected as the preseason favorite in the Big South Men's Basketball poll announced at the conference's media day. The Highlanders collected 28 of the 33 first-place votes in being named the preseason favorite for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

>>Radford returned three starters and eight letterwinners from a team that went 23-13 overall and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Radford topped LIU Brooklyn, 71-61, in the First Four before bowing out to Villanova.

>>Senior forward Ed Polite Jr. is the reigning Big South Men's Basketball Player of the Week after averaging 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in wins over Gardner-Webb and UNC Asheville.

>>Carlik Jones (15.4), Polite Jr. (12.8) and Travis Fields Jr. (10.9) are all averaging double-digits for the Highlanders this seasons.

>>Radford has picked up marquee wins this year over Notre Dame and No. 17 Texas.

>>Radford is on a six-game winning streak.

Freshmen Contributions
Charleston Southern sought early contributions from their freshmen class in the 2018-19 season and the Buccaneers delivered. The trio of Dontrell Shuler, Duncan LeXander, and Timmy Sellers combined for 17 double-digit scoring efforts over the first 14 games paced by a pair of 20-point efforts by both Shuler and LeXander.

LeXander went off for 23 points in the Bucs' contest against Coppin State as the 6-8 forward drilled 6-of-7 from behind the three-point line in CSU's 93-67 win. Shuler went off for 20 at North Florida hitting 8-of-10 from the free throw line to lead the CSU scorers against the Ospreys. Sellers hit double-digits against both Columbia International and Trinity Baptist and has provided key minutes off the bench.

Freshmen Among Big South Leaders
Duncan LeXander - Offensive Rebounds (1.9, T-11th)
Timmy Sellers - Offensive Rebounds (1.9, T-11th)
Dontrell Shuler - Scoring (10.5, 23rd)

Get After The Ball
Charleston Southern is one of five teams nationally to force more than 19 turnovers per game on the year. This is due in part to the Bucs' prowess in the half-court trap as the Buccaneers continue to swarm the ball as soon as it crosses the midcourt line.

CSU is ranked second nationally with 19.88 turnovers forced per game sitting just behind Florida International (21.68).

NCAA Top Five Turnovers Forced
Florida International - 21.68
Charleston Southern - 19.88
Auburn - 19.53
Eastern Kentucky - 19.21
New Orleans - 19.06

The Bucs have forced at least 15 turnovers every game this season with the exception of Florida (8) and Campbell (11). This past Saturday against Campbell snapped a 13-game streak dating back to November 13 against South Carolina State.