SSU men maintain No. 6 NAIA ranking

PORTSMOUTH — The Shawnee State University men’s basketball team continued to maintain its top-line national standing on Wednesday, holding the sixth-place position in the latest version of the NAIA Men’s Basketball Coaches Top 25 Poll.

Shawnee State, which garnered 510 points to continue to hold a firm grip inside the national top-10, kept its standing as the top-ranked team in the Mid-South Conference for the third straight poll.

Indiana Wesleyan continues to be the only team east of the Mississippi River that sits ahead of the Bears in the national rankings.

The No. 6 Bears — which have 18 consecutive victories to their credit — posted five of their biggest conference victories over the last week-and-a-half, beginning by putting seven players in double figures in a 108-86 defeat of Martin Methodist and overcoming a late second-half deficit to defeat Life (Ga.) by an 81-77 count.

Over the last eight days, Shawnee State has went and defeated three perennial powerhouses — beginning with an 11-point defeat of Pikeville that clinched a regular-season sweep of UPike for the third consecutive season.

The Bears then added strong victories over two of the additional top three in the conference outside of themselves — while doing so on the road — in a seven-point win over (RV) Cumberlands, Ky. by an 85-78 margin and building as much as a 23-point cushion before cruising to a 77-68 victory over Thomas More.

Shawnee State, which has 14 double-digit victories in 24 games this season, ranks inside the national top-five in five different categories — including total offensive rebounding, blocks per game, total blocks, total scoring offense and defensive field-goal percentage, the latter an especially impressive feat where the Bears are holding teams to 37.7-percent shooting.

The Bears are also in the national top-10 in assists, defensive rebounds per game, total rebounds per game and rebounding margin.

Individually, four players are averaging in double figures, including the following:

James Jones (19.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists on 46.6-percent shooting)

E.J. Onu (17.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, four blocks, 60.8-percent shooting, 47.1-percent three-point shooting)

Miles Thomas (11.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 42.5 -percent three-point shooting)

Amier Gilmore (10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 60.5-percent shooting)

Behind that quartet, six additional players are averaging at least 3.4 points or more per game — including Donoven Carlisle, Latavious Mitchell, Issac Abergut, Kobie Johnson, Jakiel Wells and Shawn Paris, Jr.

Carlisle, Mitchell and Abergut are averaging over four rebounds, while Wells leads the team with 1.7 steals per contest and holds the team’s best assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.24-to-1.

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