Arlon Harper didn’t feel well all day Tuesday. During a pregame shootaround, Charleston Southern’s sophomore guard caught a chill and decided to wear a long-sleeve shirt under his basketball uniform.
“I felt like I was coming down with a cold,” Harper said. “My body felt weak, and I put on the long sleeves just to feel comfortable and like my old self.”
After his performance Tuesday night against The Citadel, Harper might be sporting the long sleeves the rest of the season. He made 11 of 14 shots, including all five of his 3-point tries, and scored a career-high 30 points as the Buccaneers blew out the Bulldogs, 101-73, before a raucous crowd of 895 at CSU Field House.
Of course, it didn’t seem to matter what sartorial choices the Bucs made. They took turns plundering the Bulldogs’ struggling defense, with Saah Nimley and Jeremy Sexton each scoring 20 points and Cedrick Bowen adding 14.
The Bucs (3-5) shot 61.7 percent and made 14 of 26 from long distance, chalking up their first Division I victory of the season and earning a split of two games against their crosstown rivals. CSU lost to College of Charleston, 72-67, a week ago at the Buc Dome.
“A desperate team is a dangerous team,” said CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh, whose team has played the 22nd-toughest schedule in the nation, according to one RPI ranking. “We played with a sense of urgency and focus, and with the confidence I thought we’d have. I knew our schedule would do one of two things: Refine us or break us.”
The recent schedule for The Citadel (3-4), meanwhile, has exposed the Bulldogs’ glaring weakness — defense. In blowout losses at UNC Greensboro and CSU, those teams combined to make 25 of 47 shots from 3-point range (53.2 percent), chiefly against a 2-3 zone defense.
Against CSU, the Bulldogs shot well (51.9 percent), hit 9 of 17 from 3-point range, and put five players in double figures, led by Mike Groselle with 18 points — and trailed by 32 in the second half.
“Doesn’t take a rocket scientist,” said coach Chuck Driesell.
“We’ve got to stop people. We can’t let people score 101 points and shoot 61 percent on us. They did a really nice job of driving on us. They are very quick and hard to stay in front of us.
“But we’ve got to find a way. We’ll be playing teams like that all season long.
“Whether we are in a zone or man-to-man, we’ve got to do a better job of getting out on shooters and play better defense. That’s the bottom line.”
With exams coming up, the Bulldogs will have two weeks to brainstorm before playing at Gardner-Webb on Dec. 15.
“We’ve got to play with more fire,” said Groselle, who became the 30th Citadel player to score 1,000 career points.
“Our offense is good enough to win us a game. But our defense is not even close. We’re not getting in front of people, we’re not rebounding the ball well.
“It’s a combination of things. It’s a team effort.”
The Bucs’ trio of Harper, Nimley and Sexton (who also cracked the 1,000-point mark) combined to make 25 of their 39 shots, and took turns roasting the Bulldogs. Harper made his first five shots, including three treys, as CSU jumped to a 21-13 lead. Then Nimley scored seven points to extend a 13-0 run for a 29-13 lead.
And when the Bulldogs got to within 38-28, Sexton went off, scoring seven points in the final 2:11 of the half for a 47-33 lead at intermission. In the second half, CSU hit its first eight shots and opened a 74-43 lead, and the rout was on.
“It’s good to play with guys who can score like that, create their own shots and shots for their teammates,” said Nimley, who had 12 assists. “I don’t think we had lost any confidence, but we gained a sense of urgency. We saw that 2-5 record and we knew that was not us.”
For The Citadel, Lawrence Miller scored 14 points, Ashton Moore 12, Matt Van Scyoc 11 and Marshall Harris 10. Grad-student transfer Stephen Elmore got his first start and finished with four points and 12 rebounds.
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