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Wofford, ETSU to meet in early showdown

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Nov 30, 2018 at 5:56 PM

It's the Southern Conference opener for both the Wofford and East Tennessee State basketball teams, but for Bucs coach Steve Forbes, it has the feel of a late-season showdown.

Coming off a win over previously undefeated Georgia Southern, the Bucs (6-2) look to extend their five-game winning streak against the Terriers (5-2) Saturday at 7 p.m. in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

"I think it's the toughest road trip of the year with Georgia Southern ranked No. 17 in the mid-major poll and Wofford in the top 10," Forbes said. "It's going to be a big challenge, playing Wofford first game in the conference in their building — but I'm looking forward to it."

The Terriers' only losses have been to No. 11 North Carolina and Oklahoma. They have a game at No. 2 Kansas next Tuesday, and are coming off a 81-61 blowout of South Carolina.

MAGEE AND OTHERS

Fletcher Magee, who was named AP All-American honorable mention last season and also a finalist for the Lou Henson Award for best mid-major player, leads the Terriers in scoring at 17 points per game.

While the 6-foot-4 guard out of Orlando is certainly the focus of most teams, Forbes looks at 6-foot-8 forward Cameron Jackson as presenting more of a challenge. Jackson is averaging 13.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Last season, he had 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks while leading Wofford to a 75-71 upset of ETSU in Johnson City.

"A lot of people talk about Fletcher Magee, but I thought the person who beat us last year was Cameron Jackson," Forbes said. "The game here, he hurt us. Don't get me wrong. I think the world of Fletcher, but Cameron is somebody you better keep a close eye on."

Nathan Hoover, another 6-foot-4 guard, had the hot hand against South Carolina, hitting going 9-of-12 behind the 3-point line in a 30-point performance. Hoover is averaging 13.5 points per game and 52.3 percent from 3-point range.

Other starters are Storm Murphy, who leads the team with 24 assists, and Keve Aluman, who has been struggling at the free-throw line, hitting just 45.8 percent.

BUCS INSIDE-OUT

ETSU has been playing inside-out on the offensive end with post players Mladen Armus and Jeromy Rodriguez being described by Forbes as two of the best passing big men that he's coached. Rodriguez is second on the team in assists at 2.9 per game, behind only point guard Isaiah Tisdale.

The two post players have continued to dominate the boards with Rodriguez averaging 12.5 rebounds and Armus 8.4 per game. As a team, ETSU has outrebounded its opponents by a 43-27 average.

All five starters are now in double figures. Tray Boyd III leads the way at 13.3 points per game, which includes hitting 20 of 51 attempts behind the 3-point line. Rodriguez is at 11.4 points per game and Tisdale is right behind at 11.3 points.

Sophomore guard Patrick Good, who hit some big shots down the stretch in the Bucs' win over Georgia Southern, leads the team with 25 threes. He is averaging 10.4 points per game, while Armus is at 10 points even.

Bo Hodges, who has not played during the five-game winning streak with a groin injury, averaged 10.7 points over the first three games. He is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game. In his absence, the Bucs have gotten good production from the bench and it's led to ETSU outscoring opponents by a 79-65 average margin.

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