It’s a game of numbers, but Lipscomb coach Scott Sanderson is only concerned with the fact that his Bisons are 4-1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference and tied for first place.
The Bisons ran their winning streak to three games with an 80-66 win Saturday night over USC Upstate at Allen Arena. They are 7-7 overall. Upstate slipped to 1-14, 1-5 in the conference.
“The most important thing for us is that we are 4-1,” Sanderson said. “I don’t even think about overall record. It is irrelevant. We played that schedule as a barometer to get us ready for conference play.”
The next challenge for the Bisons is Monday night at 8 when Belmont visits Allen Arena for the first edition of the “Battle of the Boulevard” for this season. Belmont is also 4-1 in the conference, 9-6 overall.
Also tied for first in the A-Sun are ETSU and Campbell.
The Bisons faced a challenge before the tip-off as junior forward Brandon Brown was sidelined during the shoot-around Saturday morning. His status is uncertain for the next few games. Sanderson is hopeful Brown will be back for the Belmont game.
“If he doesn’t play there are certain things we will have to tweak,” Sanderson said. “I feel like we can overcome his loss if he is not able to play. Injuries are a part of the game. It’s not a fun part of the game, but it is part of it.”
Sanderson sent out a starting lineup of guards Johnny Lee and Jordan Burgason, forwards Michael Teller and Brian Wright and center Adnan Hodzic.
“It messed up our substitution rotation,” Sanderson said.
The Bisons opened the game with a 3-point shot from Teller in the first minute and never trailed in the game. Teller finished with nine points, hitting three-of-eight 3-point shots. He also had six rebounds and three assists.
“Teller was good,” Sanderson said. “He was more active. He rebounded the ball.”
In the first half the Bisons capitalized on Upstate’s mistakes with 15 points off of turnovers.
The biggest lead for the Bisons in the first half was 15 points, 33-18, on a jump shot by sophomore center Justin Glenn.
Glenn had six rebounds, two points, two steals and a blocked shot in 12 minutes.
“It gave Justin an opportunity,” Sanderson said. “He was thrust into the role of playing 12 minutes and I thought he was solid. He did well. He is a big, strong kid who can rebound and block shots. He shoots the ball fairly well. When a guy goes down someone else has to pick up the slack.”
For the second game in a row the Bisons played a significant part of the first half without Hodzic. He was on the bench for nine of the first 20 minutes after being tagged with three personal fouls.
“Adnan has to listen and learn from his mistakes,” Sanderson said. “Hopefully, he will be a better listener on what he has to do to stay on the floor. He has to listen to what we want him to do on both ends of the floor.”
In the second half the Bisons twice led by 13 points, but their biggest lead in the final 20 minutes was 14 points, 60-46, with 7:15 remaining in the game.
With the Bisons leading 61-48 Upstate went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 61-55 with 5:08 left in the game.
The Bisons pulled ahead by 10 with four minutes on the clock when Slater hit a pair of free throws for a 65-55 advantage.
With 2:27 to go Upstate trimmed the lead to seven points, 68-61, on a 3-pointer from guard Ryan LeGates.
The Bisons were able to once again pull ahead by 10, 71-61, with 47 seconds left on a free throw from Wright.
“I thought we were pretty good in the first half defensively holding them to 35.7 percent, but we every time we would get up 12 or 14 points we couldn’t blow it on out. Upstate kept hanging around and hanging around. You have to give them credit. They have played everybody tough.”
Slater led the way for the Bisons with a game-high 25 points. Lee scored 12 for his second straight double figures game. Hodzic added 11 points to keep his double figures scoring streak alive at 41 consecutive games. Wright added 10.
The Bisons shot 44.3 percent for the game, hitting 27-of-61 shots. They were only 31 percent from 3-point range, connecting on nine-of-29.
Four Upstate players finished in double figures in the game. Center Nick Schneiders led with 19. Forward Pat Posey scored 16. Guard Carter Cook chipped in 11. Forward Mezie Uzochukwu added 10.
Despite playing only 25 minutes Hodzic still led the Bisons on the boards with seven rebounds. Posey had a game-high 10 for Upstate.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations