SSU basketball programs to play Pikeville in Mid-South DH

The men’s and women’s basketball programs at Shawnee State will look to build upon their excellent starts as both programs, who went 2-1 with one NAIA Division I Top 25 victory apiece last week, will make the trip south on U.S. 23 to face Pikeville in two critical Mid-South Conference contests at the Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville, Ky. on Thursday evening beginning at 6 p.m.

Both basketball programs, which enter the week as the only team with both of its units inside the top-three of the Mid-South standings, are coming off of a triumphant week.

The SSU men, after dropping a tight seven-point decision to Georgetown in a contest that came down to the final 35 seconds of play, rebounded significantly with a 36-point smashing of No. 19 Lindsey Wilson (95-59) and a 29-point drubbing of Campbellsville (86-57), who had won six games in a row prior to Shawnee State’s win.

The Bears picked up their second victory at Lindsey Wilson in the last three seasons, while Shawnee State, who has defeated Campbellsville at Waller Gymnasium in each of the past two seasons, defeated the Tigers at Powell Athletic Center for the first time since Jan. 31, 2013.

As for the SSU women, the Bears started the week with a 20-point victory over Georgetown (87-67), then, after allowing No. 14 Lindsey Wilson to shoot 58.8 percent from the field in a 87-77 setback, rebounded in the best fashion possible by sending No. 1 Campbellsville out of Powell Athletic Center with its first loss of the season in a 79-64 victory. It marked the third time in four seasons that the Bears came out of Campbellsville with a Mid-South Conference win to its credit.

A preview of both games are below:

SSU men (14-5, 4-2 Mid-South) matchup notes

No. 5 Pikeville (15-3, 3-3 Mid-South)

  • UPike’s notable victories this season include wins over then-No. 18 Life (84-77), Cumberland, Tenn. (66-51), (RV) Thomas More (68-64), and (RV) Bethel, Tenn. (94-70).
  • UPike is currently putting two everyday players in double-figures:
    • Jordan Perry (18.6 points, 2.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 51.9 percent shooting, 38.1 percent three-point shooting)
    • Luke Layhew (12.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 66.1 percent shooting)
  • Kelly Wells (328-114) is in his 14th season at Pikeville. UPike claimed a national championship under Wells in 2011, with Wells also earning NAIA National Coach of the Year honors.

Keys for SSU men

  • Continue to share the basketball. With 20 assists on 38 made field goal attempts against Lindsey Wilson and 12 assists on 35 made field goals against Campbellsville, Shawnee State made leaps and bounds of progress with sharing the basketball, which showed as all 11 players who dressed scored against Lindsey Wilson while 10 of the 11 who dressed scored against Campbellsville. Sharing the rock will be paramount against Pikeville, who has limited its opponents to 100 assists while forcing 279 turnovers as of the last stat update.
  • Win the rebounding battle. Pikeville has just one player who stands 6-8 or taller (Layhew), but hold a plus-9.5 rebounding margin on the glass. Shawnee State won the battle of the boards by significant margins against Lindsey Wilson (51-26) and Campbellsville (59-27), so SSU, who is third in the NAIA with a plus-14.3 rebounding margin, will have to win that battle over UPike, who is 14-0 at Appalachian Wireless Arena, to give themselves a strong opportunity for another marquee victory.

SSU women (18-2, 5-1 Mid-South) matchup notes

(RV) Pikeville (13-7, 3-3 Mid-South)

  • UPike’s notable victories this season include a win over Faulkner, Ala. (69-57) in the Penn Station Classic at Waller Gymnasium in Portsmouth and a triumph over NCAA Division II Bluefield State (48-32).
  • UPike is putting three players in double-figures:
    • Sierra Feltner (11.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 46.8 percent shooting, 43.1 percent three-point shooting)
    • Brianna Burbridge (10.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 60.6 percent shooting)
    • Mary Englert (10.1 points, three rebounds, 40 percent shooting)
  • Clifton Williams (68-47) is in his fourth season at UPike. He has had assistant coaching stints at the NCAA Division I level inside the women’s basketball program at Florida State and has worked for the men’s basketball program at Kentucky, which included its 2012 National Championship squad.

Keys for SSU women:

  • Put a stop to slow starts. Against Lindsey Wilson, SSU only held the lead once — an early 4-0 advantage — and were outscored 21-9 in the opening quarter of action. Against Campbellsville, Shawnee State reversed that trend by taking a 24-15 lead after the opening quarter of play, pushing the lead out to as much as 16 points, and never trailing in the affair. Pikeville runs a platoon system that is effective, so SSU can’t afford to play UPike from behind with the way that Pikeville rotates players in and out of contests.
  • Utilize size effectively. SSU was able to knock off No. 1 Campbellsville due to its 42 points in the paint and its massive rebounding advantage (45-27). Pikeville only has one player averaging more than 4.4 rebounds per game and holds a modest plus-4.7 rebounding advantage per game compared to Shawnee State’s plus-8.4 mark.

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