SAC Celebrates 20 Years in Division II with “20 for 20" SeriesJanuary 23, 2013
Trojans’ Trip to the 2011 NCAA Elite Eight Recognized
ROCK HILL, S.C. – The 2012-13 academic year marks the 20th anniversary of the South Atlantic Conference becoming a member of NCAA Division II. In celebration, the conference is counting down the top 20 moments from the last two decades throughout the 2012-13 academic year in a series titled SAC 20 for 20.
The Trojan men’s basketball trip to the 2011 NCAA Elite Eight has been chosen as number 15 in the list of significant events in league history.
In 2011, The Trojans posted the second of three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament, becoming just the second team in league history to claim an NCAA Regional Championship and the first team from the Palmetto State to win a regional championship since Lander in 1999.
The seventh-seeded Trojans upset top-seed and host Augusta State, 75-73, in overtime on the Jaguars’ home court to earn the trip to Springfield. AU denied Augusta State its fourth straight trip to the Elite Eight and ended the Jaguars’ 48-game home win streak.
Taylor Shugart scored 14 points and blocked the potential game-tying shot with two seconds left in overtime to help preserve the win. Guard Denzail Jones also scored 14 points, while Oskars Ernsteins added 12 points and Brandon Young dished out seven assists for the Trojans. Anderson avenged a 100-70 loss to Augusta State in the 2010 Southeast Regional semifinals and a 78-72 defeat to the Jaguars in the season-opener.
Anderson entered the 2011 Southeast Regional Tournament with a 1-4 regular-season record against teams in the tournament, but avenged earlier losses to No. 10 Lincoln Memorial, Montevallo and No. 3 Augusta State to earn the trip to Springfield. Six Trojans averaged double figures over the three-game span, led by AU’s all-time leading scorer Young’s 13.3 points per game. Nick Trull, Denzail Jones, Trey Britton and Kevis Cornwell combined to shoot 42-of-49 (85.7%) from the line, while Ernsteins connected on 11-of-18 (61.1%) from beyond the arc.
Young and Jones were named to the All-Southeast Region Tournament Team after helping lead AU to the title. Young also averaged five assists in the three contests, tallying 17 points and five assists versus Montevallo, while Jones averaged 12.3 points and was a clutch 10-of-11 from the free throw line.
Trull became just the sixth player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau during the season, was named the SAC Scholar-Athlete and received the NCAA’s Elite 88 Award at the Elite Eight.
The Trojans’ bid to continue its’ Cinderella run through the NCAA Tournament and reach the Final Four fell shy, as top-ranked and unbeaten West Liberty rallied from an early 14-point deficit for a 113-95 win past AU in the opening round.
Men’s basketball standout Denzail Jones’ record-setting 50-point performance versus Newberry in the 2012 conference tournament semifinals was recognized in December as number 17 in the list of notable achievements.
“The last 20 years have provided countless unforgettable moments in this conference,” said SAC commissioner Patrick Britz. “The achievements of so many teams and individual student-athletes will make SAC 20 for 20 a fascinating series to watch unfold.
“We’re proud to be members of Division II, and are excited to revisit our rich history over the course of the year.”
Since joining Division II in 1993, the SAC has seen teams from each of its 14 championship sports earn selections to NCAA championships. It has also welcomed four new member institutions since becoming eligible for Division II competition – Tusculum, Lincoln Memorial, Anderson and Newberry, which left the conference in 1988 and later rejoined in 1996.
The moments that make up SAC 20 for 20 come from the conference’s current member institutions and represent both team and individual accomplishments. Moments from each institution were eligible for SAC 20 for 20 consideration only if they occurred when the school was a member of the league.