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PREVIEW: Tars Close Calendar Year at No. 24 Tritons

Eric Castaneda
Eric Castaneda

COMPLETE GAME NOTES (.PDF)

MATCH-UP:
Rollins (8-5, 4-1 SSC) vs. No. 24 Eckerd (11-1, 4-1 SSC) 

WHEN:
Saturday, December 30, 2017 – 4 p.m. 

WHERE:
McArthur Center – St. Petersburg, Florida 

COVERAGE:
VIDEO: SSC Digital Network– SunshineStateConference.tv
AUDIO: Tars Sports Network– RollinsSports.com
LIVESTATS: EckerdTritons.com

SET-UP:
After more than a week off for the holidays, Rollins will travel to Florida's west coast for a clash with 24th-ranked Eckerd on Saturday. The game marks the second-straight against a ranked team for the Tars having played eighth-ranked West Texas A&M in the Rollins Las Vegas Classic finale earlier in December. The Tars are tied with the Tritons at 4-1 in the conference, a half game behind leader Barry. Eckerd has won eight-straight after its loss to Barry, the only blemish on the Tritons record. The game will serve as a big momentum boost for the winner heading into the final eight-week grind of the Sunshine State Conference schedule.  

TRACKING THE TARS:
Rollins took a three-game winning streak into its own Las Vegas Classic and came home with two losses to foes from the Lone Star Conference. The Tars were up 22 points on Midwestern State in the second half, but couldn't hold on and fell 81-79 in the final seconds. The next day against eighth-ranked West Texas A&M and playing without Jeff Merton due to illness, the Tars lost 88-60 to close out the trip to the desert. Deion Clark led the way for the Tars against the Buffs with 19 points, hitting 8-of-10 at the stripe. Sam Philpott added 10 points and six rebounds off the bench. Rollins was held to just 37 percent shooting in the game. Philpott tops Rollins and is fifth in the SSC with 20.8 points per game. He has scored double-digits in every game this season, including eight times netting more than 20. The senior also ranks fifth in the league in field goal percentage, shooting 61 percent from the field this season. Merton is scoring 14.8 points a game and grabbing 4.5 rebounds a night. Eric Castaneda scores 13.2 points a game and Clark is averaging 13.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals a night. Rollins is scoring 84.9 a game and allowing 80.9.

TRACKING THE TRITONS:
Eckerd owns the longest current winning streak in the SSC at eight games and stands at 11-1 heading into its match-up with the Tars. Since falling to then fifth-ranked Barry 93-89 in November, Eckerd has won all but two games of its streak by double-digits. The Tritons most recently posted a 104-70 win over Emmanuel to close the Florida Southern Classic. Trevon Young posted 27 points and 13 rebounds to lead the way. Drushaun McLaurn and Blake Morrow both netted 20. EC shot 50 percent and nearly doubled-up Emmanuel on the boards. McLaurn is the leading scorer on the season, putting up 17.9 points and 6.1 rebounds a game. Young is getting 16 points and 9.2 boards a night while Morrow is scoring 13.6 a game. Keshawn Ingram is the long ball threat, hitting 28 on the year en route to 10.9 points a game. The Tritons are scoring 84.8 points a game and allowing 72.8 a night. EC is dominant on the glass, outrebounding teams by 11.5 a game. 

NOTES:

  • Rollins leads the all-time series against Eckerd 67-51. EC won two of three meetings last season; both in the regular season but the Tars won in the SSC tournament, 81-70.
  • Rollins was 7-6 at the same point in the season last year. The Tars fell to 8-8 before going on its historic run to the SSC title and NCAA Elite Eight.
  • Rollins and Eckerd are two of four (also Florida Southern and Saint Leo) current SSC schools that are charter members.
  • Tom Klusman is 685-398 in his 38th season leading the Tars. He is chasing Tampa's Richard Schmidt for the most wins in Sunshine State Conference history with UT's leader sitting at 689 wins.
  • Jeff Merton is 17th in Rollins history with 1,439 points. He is 17 behind Erick Faber for 16th. Merton also has 199 career three-pointers, sixth most in Tars history.
  • Sam Philpott ranks 25th on the Tars scoring list with 1,251 points, recently overtaking assistant coach Brad Ash. Philpott needs 11 points to pass legend Boyd Coffie on the list.
  • Philpott is fourth in Tars history in field goal percentage, shooting 58 percent for his career.

NEXT UP FOR ROLLINS:
Rollins is on the road Wednesday, January 3 at Palm Beach Atlantic. The Tars are finally back at home on Saturday, January 6 hosting Nova Southeastern. Fans can follow the action live on the Tars Sports Network and new SSC Digital Network at SunshineStateConference.tv.