Men's Basketball Set for NCAA Southeast Regional

ANDERSON, S.C. – The third-seeded Anderson men’s basketball team will make its third consecutive appearance in the Big Dance by squaring off against sixth-seeded Columbus State Saturday in the 2012 NCAA Southeast Regional hosted by the University of Montevallo. Tip-off is slated for Noon (Central) at the Falcons’ Bank Trust Arena.

Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup will feature the 14th-ranked Trojans (24-5), who claimed the South Atlantic Conference regular-season title with just one loss in league play, and the Falcons squaring off to see who will advance to meet the winner of the No. 2 seed USC Aiken vs. No. 7 seed Wingate contest scheduled to tip just after the AU vs. UM contest on Saturday.

Columbus State (18-11) will be making its first appearance in the national tournament since the 2006 season, when the Cougars defeated USC Upstate 90-88 in overtime before falling to eventual national runner-up Virginia Union in the second round 75-69.

The Cougars reached the the Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championship game last weekend where they fell to No. 1 seeded Montevallo.

Anderson, the defending Southeast Region Champion, is 5-1 this season versus teams in the regional, as the Trojans defeated Barton, 84-78, in the season opener and swept the regular-season series with Lincoln Memorial, 78-72, in overtime and 62-61. AU also swept the regular-season series with Wingate, but fell, 66-59 to the Bulldogs in the SAC Tournament Championship last Sunday.

The Trojans have already equaled the school record for wins after making SAC history by becoming just the fourth team in the league to suffer just one loss in regular-season play, while recording the most regular-season league wins in league history and notched the highest league winning percentage (.944) in conference history.

Junior guard Denzail Jones, the South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, was named second-team All-Region earlier this week after earning SAC Tournament MVP accolades and being named First-team All-South Atlantic Conference at the conclusion of the regular season. The 5-foot-9 standout finished fifth in the league in scoring (17.0 ppg.), first in steals, seventh in assists and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio. He scored a tournament-record 50 points in AU’s double-overtime win over Newberry in the conference tournament semifinals.  

Senior center Taylor Shugart also garnered all-tournament and second-team All-SAC honors after leading the conference with 7.2 rebounds per game and ranked sixth in the league in field goal percentage (52.6%). The Rock Hill, S.C., native was third on the team with 11.7 points per contest and posted a team-leading four double-doubles on the season. The 6-foot-7 center currently ranks seventh all-time in Anderson’s record books with 1,101 career points and earned SAC Player of the Week honors twice during the season.    

Senior guard Nick Trull is the third Trojan averaging double figures, with 14.9 points a game. He finished the regular season as the SAC’s ninth-leading scorer and third in three-pointers per game at 2.62.  The Charlotte, N.C., native ranks second on Anderson’s all-time scoring list, with 1,507 points.
Trull also claimed the SAC Scholar-Athlete Award for the second consecutive season and was named the 2011-12 NCAA Division II Capital One Academic All-American of the Year two weeks ago. 

The Southeast Regional consists of four sessions and includes seven games over a four-day stretch. Top-seeded Montevallo (24-7) and eighth-seeded Barton (20-9) will continue the quarterfinal play at 6 p.m. on Saturday. At 8:30 p.m. fourth-seeded Lincoln Memorial (25-5) and fifth-seeded King College (23-6) will square off to wrap up the first day’s action.

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