At the 6:33 mark of the second half in The Citadel's loss at Elon on Jan. 11, something unusual occurred.
WHO; Appalachian State at The Citadel
WHEN: 7:05 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: McAlister Field House
Bulldogs guard Ashton Moore came out of the game for a substitute.
Moore was back in the game 83 seconds later, but that one minute of game action is the only minute the 6-0 junior from Suffolk, Va., has missed over the Bulldogs' last three games.
In fact, over The Citadel's last five games, Citadel basketball's Iron Man has played 204 of a possible 210 minutes, sitting that one minute against Elon and playing 40 of 45 minutes in an overtime loss at UNC Greensboro.
"You would think," Moore said Wednesday when asked if he was tired.
But as the Bulldogs take another crack Thursday against Appalachian State at snapping a losing skid that's reached eight games, Moore has proved too valuable to spend much time on the bench.
Over that busy five-game stretch, Moore has averaged 19.2 points and made 16 of 30 shots from 3-point range, boosting his season averages to 12.2 points and 39.4 percent from long distance.
"He's probably the best-conditioned player on our team and one of the hardest working guys we have," said coach Chuck Driesell, whose team is 4-16 overall and 0-5 in the Southern Conference heading into Thursday's game against App State (5-13, 1-4).
"The biggest thing for Ash has been confidence, and that's really coming together for him at this time."
That confidence has been a while coming. Moore started the first nine games of the season and averaged 9.9 points over that span. But after a 90-77 loss to Division II West Alabama on Nov. 30, Moore found himself coming off the bench in the next two games, playing only 23 total minutes against Navy and Gardner-Webb.
A turning point came in a 77-62 loss at Big Ten foe Nebraska on Dec. 21, when Moore hit 8 of 16 shots and scored 21 points. He hasn't played less than 27 minutes in the seven games since then, scoring in double figures in six of them.
"It's definitely been a journey," said Moore, who scored 25 points in the Bulldogs' last game, a 76-71 loss to Furman on Saturday. "At first, I was a little wary and didn't have the confidence. But as I produced in a couple of games, my confidence grew. And our games have been so close, our team feels like we can play with anybody."
Moore's journey to The Citadel began when he was spotted at a summer camp in Virginia by Driesell's dad, famed coach Lefty Driesell. Ashton wasn't sure who Lefty was when the ex-Maryland coach approached, but Moore's father, who played football at the University of Hartford, sure knew.
"My dad told me, 'That's the legendary Lefty,'" Moore said. "That was big for me, and especially for my dad."
Chuck Driesell said his dad still scouts games and sends him box scores clipped from the paper in Virginia Beach, looking for prospects.
"I think he offered Ashton a scholarship," he joked. "I told him, 'I'm not sure you can do that.' But I think when Lefty recommends a player, it's worth a trip."
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