SPARTANBURG, S.C. (USC Upstate SID) – Returning home to the friendly confines of the G.B. Hodge Center on a day the program and athletic department honored its new class of Hall of Famers, including the 1981-82 men’s basketball national championship team, USC Upstate men’s basketball delivered a 76-70 victory over first-place UNC Asheville with a total team effort befitting of the Championship Rifles who were honored Saturday.
The Spartans’ effort on the boards told the story in the game as Upstate corralled 36 rebounds to Asheville’s 26 with the +10 rebounding margin the Spartans’ largest during Big South play. Redshirt junior forward Ahmir Langlais paced all players on the glass, pulling in 10 boards for his second career double-digit rebounding game.
Offensively, four Spartans scored in double-figures—Upstate’s first game with four-plus double-figures scorers since Jan. 4 versus Radford—with sophomore guard Jordan Gainey leading the way with 19 points, 17 coming in the second half. Joining in double-figures were freshman guard Justin Bailey and redshirt sophomore guard Trae Broadnax who added 14 points apiece and senior forward Khydarius Smith who contributed 13.
Score: USC Upstate 76; UNC Asheville 70
Records: USC Upstate (10-13; 5-7 Big South); UNC Asheville (18-7; 10-2 Big South)
Location: G.B. Hodge Center | Spartanburg, S.C.
How It Happened
- After Asheville opened the game with back-to-back dunks, Upstate countered with a driving layup and three to start the back-and-forth nature of the first few minutes of the game. Into the game’s first media timeout—a late under-16 at 13:27 to play—the Spartans scored eight consecutive points to hold the advantage at the stoppage.
- The Bulldogs struck back out of the timeout with a 12-0 scoring run to regain the lead with a five-point cushion. Asheville fed its game-long scoring run by forcing four Upstate turnovers and holding the Spartans to 0-5 from the field.
- Answering Asheville’s long scoring run, Upstate raced back to the lead with a second 8-0 scoring stretch to take a three-point advantage into the final five minutes of the half. With the 8-0 run snapped by a Bulldog layup, the Spartans continued to build scoring the next six points to craft a 14-2 scoring streak that delivered a seven-point lead.
- Closing the Upstate lead to two points at the halftime buzzer, Asheville scored the final five points of the half. The Bulldogs pulled within two as Trent Stephney knocked down a three with 20 seconds remaining in the half.
- While Upstate may have had the first basket of the second half, Asheville scored the next six points with a pair of threes to regain the lead. The Spartans and Bulldogs went back and forth over the next several minutes with Asheville holding a one-point advantage at the 17:15 mark of the second half.
- Taking back the lead—for the final time in the game—the Spartans scored the next six points to build a five-point buffer. Khydarius Smith bookended a Justin Bailey step-back jumper with a pair of hook shots to create the scoring run.
- Alternating scoring over the next six or so minutes of the half, Upstate stayed just ahead of Asheville. The Bulldogs got the lead to as small as two points with 9:47 to play. The Spartans responded with another 6-0 scoring stretch to build back the lead, getting the lead to as large as 11 points with an 11-2 scoring run.
- Asheville battled back with an 11-3 scoring stretch of its own to cut the deficit to three before Jordan Gainey knocked down a three to push things back to five points. Over the final minutes, in large part to Gainey, the Spartans withstood and held on for the win by making each of its eight free throw attempts to ice the game.
- With 19 points from Jordan Gainey, 14 from Justin Bailey, 14 from Trae Broadnax, and 13 from Khydarius Smith, Saturday’s game marked the first since Jan. 4 versus Radford where the Spartans have had four or more double-figure scorers. With the win over UNC Asheville, Upstate improved to 8-1 in games with four or more double-figure scorers this season.
- Posting a +10 margin on the boards against the Bulldogs, the Spartans’ total marked the largest rebounding margin in the team’s favor during Big South play this season. The deficit on the board (-10) for Asheville tied for its largest deficit in league play as both have come during the Bulldogs’ two league losses.
- Pulling in 10 rebounds Saturday, Ahmir Langlais recorded his second career double-digit rebounding game and first since corralling 11 rebounds against Coastal Carolina on Nov. 18. He owns two of the three double-digit rebounding games by a Spartan this season.
- For the second straight game, Justin Bailey delivered the three-ball that extended the Spartans’ streak of games with a made three-pointer, pushing the streak to 863 games. The streak that dates back to the 1994-95 season includes each of Upstate’s 496 games at the NCAA Division I level (2007-pres.).
Up Next for the Spartans
Continuing a string of home games at the G.B. Hodge Center, Upstate returns home next Wednesday for another Big South rematch. The Spartans welcome in Charleston Southern with tip-off set for 7 p.m. ET.