GAME NOTES: The Furman Paladins and Samford Bulldogs will both be looking to snap a three-game losing streak as they collide in Southern Conference action at the Pete Hanna Center on Saturday.
Furman dropped to 0-3 in SoCon action and 6-10 overall on Thursday with a 73-56 home loss to Davidson. The Paladins have shot 46 percent from the floor while receiving 20.3 ppg from Stephen Croone along with 14 ppg courtesy of Kendrec Ferrara during their three-game slide, but they have allowed the opposition to net 78.3 ppg during that span. Furman is ranked second to last among the conference's 11 members in scoring offense at 67.5 ppg. Coach Niko Medved's squad also has plenty of room for improvement on the defensive end of the court, where it is permitting the opposition to convert 46.8 percent from the floor and has allowed 133 made 3-point field goals.
The Bulldogs are also winless through three games of league play after their 90-81 setback at Chattanooga on Thursday. Samford enters Saturday with a 6-12 overall record, which includes a 5-2 standing at the Pete Hanna Center. However, only two of those victories came over Division I opponents. Coach Bennie Seltzer's team is just ahead of the visitors on the SoCon's scoring leaderboard with 70 ppg, but Samford is ranked second to last in the league defensively with its allowance of 77.9 ppg.
This will be the 15th meeting in history between these schools and the first since Furman's 55-51 decision over the Bulldogs in the opening round of the 2013 SoCon Tournament. The triumph was the second in a row in the series for the Paladins, who are 10-4 versus Samford in history.
Furman ran its offense through Croone against Davidson. The sophomore guard knocked down 5-of-11 shots from the field and 10-of-14 at the charity stripe en route to 21 points. Croone has more than doubled his scoring average from his freshman year to become the SoCon's second-leading scorer at 20.1 ppg, but he is losing the ball 3.9 times per game and accounted for five of the Paladins' 21 turnovers in the loss to the Wildcats. Larry Wideman and William Gates Jr. are contributing 11.4 and 10.1 ppg, respectively. Ferrara (8.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg) is the only other player adding more than six ppg for Furman.
The Bulldogs could not dig themselves out of the 8-0 hole they immediately fell into against Chattanooga and went into halftime trailing by 15 points after connecting on only 1-of-10 tries from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes of the contest. Samford outscored the Mocs in the second period by connecting on 47.5 percent of its field goal attempts including 6-of-15 from beyond the arc. Tim Williams, Isaiah Williams and Tyler Hood all scored 15 points each in the loss. Tim Williams also accounted for seven rebounds and five blocked shots. He is pacing Samford with averages of 17.4 ppg and 7.1 rpg while hitting on 61.1 percent of his shots from the floor. Isaiah Williams is adding 12.2 ppg and 3.3 apg.
The homecourt advantage has been a friend to both of these struggling SoCon programs to this point in the season. Furman's inexperienced lineup will most likely get better with age as the season progresses, but as of right now Croone is being asked to do too much. The Paladins need to find more offensive balance, while Samford has to figure out a way to play more consistently. The Bulldogs have been excellent in flashes, but they have not put together a solid 40-minute performance in quite some time. Although Samford has the homecourt edge, this should be a closely contested matchup.
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