The Citadel's Zane Najdawi was equal parts proud and heartbroken after the Bulldogs' near upset of Southern Conference leader East Tennessee State on Monday.
"I'm proud of the effort," said the 6-7 junior, who had 18 points and six rebounds in the 73-71 loss. "We're a completely different team than we were last week.
"But it hurts to lose that one, when we know we should have won it."
The Bulldogs (7-14, 2-7) have indeed resembled a different team over the last two games, a 76-74 win at Mercer on Saturday followed by the narrow loss to ETSU, which has won 13 straight and is 10-0 in the SoCon.
"Everyone is playing with more energy, and I feel like we have a whole different life to us," said Najdawi, whose team plays host to Wofford on Thursday. "People want to win, and we're tired of losing. We're going hard in practice and not getting down on ourselves. We just keep fighting every day."
Coach Duggar Baucom's Bulldogs are the highest-scoring team in the league at 84.4 points per game, and play at the second-fastest tempo in Division I according to kenpom.com, averaging 79.4 possessions and 69.5 shots per game.
Things have slowed down a bit in the last two games, however. The Bulldogs totaled 68 possessions and 54 shots at Mercer and 78 possessions and 58 shots against ETSU.
The Citadel shot pretty well from 3-point range in both games also, making 40 percent against Mercer and 39.3 percent against ETSU, better than its SoCon average of 34.2 percent.
"Definitely a different team that played at Mercer and in this game," Baucom said after the ETSU loss. "We told them, just compete and let the score take care of itself. Just compete, and don't care if we're young.
"And it's helped that we've shortened our bench a little bit and are playing the guys who know what's going on. We are better, but we've got a tough one ahead."
Indeed, Wofford (16-6, 7-2) and The Citadel have staged some spirited battles over the last two seasons. The Terriers won by 109-92 in Spartanburg last month, and the teams split regular-season games last year, each winning on the other's home floor.
With SoCon scoring leader Fletcher Magee (22.4 ppg) leading the charge, The Citadel is not likely to see the same 2-for-23 shooting performance from 3-point range that ETSU produced.
Magee, a 6-4 junior, is shooting 45.8 percent from 3-point range, second on his own team to Trevor Stumpe (46.4). Nathan Hoover (39.8 percent) gives coach Mike Young three of the top nine 3-point shooters in the league.
With 6-8 junior Cameron Jackson sidelined by injury in recent games, Wando High School product Matt Pegram has stepped up.
The 6-11 junior had 14 points and six rebound in just 23 minutes of a 77-68 win over Western Carolina in the Terriers' last game. He had 10 points and four boards in a 75-62 loss to ETSU.
Wofford at The Citadel
WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: McAlister Field House
RECORDS: Wofford 16-6, 7-2; The Citadel 7-14, 2-7
TV: ESPN3. RADIO: 98.5-FM, 1340-AM