Spartans Set To Duke It Out With Duquesne

USC Upstate travels to the "Steel City" of Pittsburgh, Pa., to take on the Dukes of Duquesne Sunday evening. Upstate enters the game with a 2-10 record, having dropped its last two games in the State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament in El Paso, Texas.

Complete Game Notes in .pdf format

Duquesne enters the game with an 8-3 record following an 86-70 victory over Robert Morris Friday night in Pittsburgh. Spartan fans can listen live on the radio in the Spartanburg area on ESPN 1400 AM or catch the broadcast online at www.epsn1400am.com or at www.upstatespartans.com. Live statistical updates are also available online through upstate's athletics website using Gametracker. Live video can be accessed for a fee on Duquesne's official athletic website at www.goduquesne.com.

Recapping State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament

Luke Payne and Bobby Davis turned in spectacular performances, but the Spartans could not overcome the UTEP Miners or the Buffalo Bulls in the State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament. Davis turned in his second double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 rebounds and Payne added 11 points as Upstate fell to host UTEP, 77-69 in the semifinals of the tournament. Upstate held a 31-30 lead at halftime, only their second lead at the half this season, but could not withstand a Miner run to open the second half. The following evening, Payne scored a career-high 26 points and Davis added 13 with six boards, but Upstate took an 80-66 loss at the hands of Buffalo.

Payne was named to the All-Tournament team after averaging 18.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game during the two-game tournament.

Payne Receives A-Sun Weekly Honor

Senior guard Luke Payne became the first basketball player (men or women) at USC Upstate to receive weekly honors from the Atlantic Sun Conference when he was named the league's player of the week on Dec. 24.

Payne received the honor after leading the Spartans to its first win over an NCAA Division I opponent, a 58-56 victory over SMU on Dec. 18. He finished the game with a game-high 19 points to go with three assists and three steals. He then led the Spartans in the State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament on Dec. 21-22. He was named to the All-Tournament team after averaging 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

For the week, Payne averaged 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game during the three-game span to earn A-Sun weekly honors.

Payne joins men's soccer players Troy Simon and Jason McCabe, men's golfer Josh Gallman (twice) and volleyball player Sandra Campbell as Spartans who have earned A-Sun weekly/monthly honors this year.

Payne Receives BP TOWC Honor

Despite playing the final two games, and part of the first, with a deep thigh bruise at the BP Top of the World Classic Nov. 16-18, starting guard Luke Payne played well enough to garner All-Tournament honors. He scored 43 points in three games, averaging 14.3 points and three rebounds per outing in the tournament. He scored 17 points against Akron and Oregon State and nine against IUPUI.

Monumental Win

USC Upstate's 58-56 win at SMU (Dec. 18) was another milestone victory for the Spartans this year. Upstate claimed its first win in the Division era against Brevard on Dec. 6. However, Brevard is a Division II member, making the SMU win the first against a Division I program this year as well as the first win over a Division I opponents in the history of the school.

Upstate has several wins over programs currently competing on the Division I level, but the wins came in the 1970s and 80s when the institutions played in the NAIA before moving to NCAA Division I membership.

Second Long Road Trip

USC Upstate began its second major road trip of the season on Dec. 18 at SMU. The Spartans then played in the State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament prior to taking a short break for Christmas. Following a brief break for Christmas, the Spartans hit the road again to play at Duquesne (Dec. 30) and Iowa State (Jan. 2). Upstate's six-game road swing will end with its first ever Atlantic Sun Conference game at East Tennessee State on Jan. 5 in Johnson City, Tenn. Upstate will return home on Thursday, Jan. 10, to take on A-Sun rival Gardner-Webb.

The second major road trip follows a lengthy road schedule to open the season as the Spartans played at Utah on Nov. 9 before heading to Fairbanks, Alaska, to play three games in the BP Top of the World Classic (Nov. 16-18). Upstate played three more road games (UNC Greensboro, Cincinnati and Wake Forest) before heading home for a win against Brevard on Dec. 6.

Spartans No. 41

According to the latest strength of schedule ranking by Jeff Sagarin, Upstate has the 41st toughest schedule out of 341 teams in Division I college basketball. The schedule rank peaked at No. 39 two weeks ago.

Spencer Out Indefinitely

Freshman reserve forward Rory Spencer is out of the lineup indefinitely with a stress fracture in his right foot.

Home Sweet Home

Despite playing just 10 games at home this season, the Spartans will be happy to do so. Upstate has a solid home record, going 55-18 in six years under head coach Eddie Payne.

Davis Doubles Up

Junior forward Bobby Davis turned in a solid performance at the State Farm Sun Bowl Tournament. He entered the second and final game of the tournament as the odds on favorite to earn All-Tournament honors after posting 11 points and 13 rebounds against host UTEP to record his second double-double of the season. Davis turned in 13 points in the Buffalo game and grabbed six rebounds. He averaged 12.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per outing in the tournament.

Shaking Up The Lineup

Head Coach Eddie Payne has used seven different starting lineups this season. Bobby Davis is the only Spartan to start every game this season, while Luke Payne has started 11 times. He missed his 12th start with a severe thigh bruise, but has played in all 12 games this year.

Payne Reaches Milestone

Senior guard Luke Payne notched his 1,000th-point at UNC Greensboro (Nov. 24). The Spartanburg High School graduate sank a three-pointer with a little over seven minutes to play in the game to give him 12 points in the contest and 1,000 for his career. He went on to finish with 15 points in the game.

Payne became the 17th player in the history of the storied program to reach the 1,000-point milestone. He currently has 1,127 points in his career and ranks 13th all-time in scoring, recently passing Charles Ford (14th), Terrance Gist (15th), Carlos Bryson (16th) and Willie Murdaugh (17th) on the all-time scoring list.

In addition to his scoring prowess, Payne ranks among the program's all-time leaders in 14 other statistical categories.

Payne currently leads the Spartans in scoring at 16.2 points per game and is the lone Spartan to average in double figures this season.

Upstate Road Warriors

By season's end, USC Upstate will have played 30 games with two-thirds of the games being played away from the G.B. Hodge Center. In fact, the Spartans opened the season playing their first seven games away from the friendly confines of the Hodge Center before playing its home opener against Brevard on Dec. 6. Upstate will play 13 of its first 15 games on the road this season.

In all, Upstate will travel more than 12,000 miles away from Spartanburg, and nearly 24,000 miles round trip, this season to play 20 games away from home.

Shooting The 3-Ball

While USC Upstate has not shot the lights out from the field and scores at a 60.6 ppg clip, the Spartans have shown prowess from behind the three-point arc. Upstate knocks down 34.7 percent of its shots from downtown and currently ranks fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference.


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