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PREVIEW: Tars Host Panthers to Start SSC Slate

Sheldon Odunna
Sheldon Odunna


Rollins (0-2, 0-0 SSC) vs. Florida Tech (0-2, 0-0 SSC) 

Warden Arena inside the Alfond Sports Center – Winter Park, Fla. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 – 7:30 p.m. 

VIDEO: Tars Sports Network at Digital Network
Play-by-Play: Robert Segal, Color: Jim Ferro

After watching each other fall to both Clark Atlanta and Morehouse in the season's opening weekend, Rollins and Florida Tech are back in Warden Arena Wednesday night to faceoff in the first Sunshine State Conference game of the season. Both teams were turned back by the high-octane visitors from the SIAC in the South Region Crossover, but got a good look at one another heading into SSC icebreaker. The Tars, coming off the SSC Tourney title and trip to the NCAA Elite Eight last season, were picked No. 2 in the conference preseason poll while Florida Tech checked in at No. 8. Of the nine SSC schools to start their seasons, Rollins and FIT are the only two still searching for a first win.   

Heading into the South Region Crossover ranked in all three NCAA Division II national polls, Rollins had high expectations for its opener against Clark Atlanta. The Tars scored 64 first half points and took a 17-point lead into halftime. However, CAU came out of the locker room on fire and chopped away at the Tars lead, eventually downing Rollins 106-103 in a shootout. The following day against Morehouse, Rollins was without one of its top threats in Jeff Merton and lost 85-83 despite a furious comeback in the final minutes.  Senior Sam Philpott leads the Tars and is third in the SSC with 23.5 points a game. Sophomore point guard Connor Mckim is seventh in the league with 20 points a night while also ranking second with 5.5 assists a game. Eric Castaneda also had a solid opening weekend and is averaging 18 points a game. Rollins offense ranks 26th nationally and fourth in the SSC with 92.5 points a game. The Tars' 24 three-pointers a game is 27th best in Division II.

Florida Tech started the South Region Crossover with an 87-82 loss to Morehouse and then were turned back by Clark Atlanta 90-69 the following day. Senior forward Sam Daniel had two exemplary performances, posting 32 points against Morehouse and 29 against CAU. He leads the conference in scoring (30.5 ppg) and ranks seventh in Division II. Jordan Major is putting up 16 points a game and ranks third in the SSC with five assists a night while Richard Coil is third in the league with 11 rebounds a game.  FIT's offense is seventh in the SSC (75.5 ppg) while they give up a SSC 6th-best 88.5 points a game.

Tom Klusman is 677-395 in 38 years as the Tars head coach; he is one of just 16 NCAA Division II coaches with 600 or more wins. 

Rollins leads the all-time series against Florida Tech 71-32, including a 38-19 advantage in games played in Winter Park. The two schools first played on January 13, 1970 with Rollins winning 103-84.

The Tars are 26-14 all-time in Sunshine State Conference openers.

Against Clark Atlanta, Sam Philpott became the 40th player in Rollins men's basketball history to eclipse 1,000 career points. He and teammate Jeff Merton are both members of the club.

Rollins was picked to finish second in the Sunshine State Conference Preseason poll; Florida Tech came in at No. 8.

Rollins is on the road for the first time this season on Saturday, November 18 – visiting Boca Raton to face Lynn. Tip off is set for 4 p.m. Fans can follow the action live on the Tars Sports Network and new SSC Digital Network at