The College of Charleston’s men’s basketball team is on a five game winning streak after winning their seventh home game of the season against the University of Tennessee’s Volunteers.
For the second year in a row, CofC was able to shut down fellow SEC rivals UT with a final score of 71-65 after making a comeback in the second half that led to a win.
“I really appreciated Tennessee coming here,” said head coach Bobby Cremins. “They brought our great atmosphere for this basketball game. It was a dog fight. They took it to us. They outplayed us early on. We were not ourselves.”
The intensity brought by UT, that began the moment the buzzer first started, kept Charleston fighting to keep up. The Volunteer’s maintained a lead throughout the entire first half, except for a one point lead the Cougars gained six minutes into the game.
Senior Antwaine Wiggins had five rebounds, two assists and nine points the first half alone, all of which were from outside the arc.
“Antwaine kept us in the game early. He did a great job of letting the game come to him. I was pleased we were only down by four at
halftime. In the second half, my staff recommended we go to the zone and the zone worked. It gave us the lead that we should have finished with, but things got a little sloppy.”
Though the Cougars were down 13 points at one time during the first half, they were able to decrease that lead to only four points and
started the second half 37-33.
Both teams continued to score back and forth until the Cougars took the lead for only the second time that night. With less than six
minutes to go in the remainder of the half, the Cougars led by 14 points which was the highest lead of the game.
Junior Andrew Lawrence finished off strong with 14 points, four assists, and five steals while redshirt-junior Matt Sundberg and freshman Anthony Stitt both had eight and nine points, respectively.
“Anthony Stitt and Matt Sundberg off the bench,” said Cremins. “I mean wow. That’s what Sundberg can do. He did it in the Bahamas and when Sundberg hits those shots, it just changes everything, and that’s what he does. And that’s why he plays. And Sundberg made some great shots.”
“It was a tough game,” said Lawrence. “They played with a lot of intensity. We knew that they would coming into the game. They are good team. They were really physical with us. We weren’t making shots in the first half and we stuck with it and we came through in the end.”
Though at moments the outlook on the game didn’t look too good for the Cougars, they stepped it up during the second half and made both smarter offensive and defensive decisions.
“I was worried,” said Cremins. “I thought we were going to get embarrassed there for a few minutes…all of a sudden they (Tennessee) got hot and we had some turnovers late and we had to hang on. It was a great win for us and I can’t say enough about the fans tonight. It was a great atmosphere on national TV, what more can you ask for?”
The Wednesday night game at TD arena saw its sixth largest gathering in school history with a sell-out crowd of 5,137 fans.
By the end of the game, Wiggins had eight rebounds and three assists and tied his career-high of 24 points, marking his seventh career 20-point game. Wiggins is now 25 points away from becoming the 29th player in school history to record 1,000 career points.
“It was a fun atmosphere tonight,” said Wiggins. “I knew we were struggling in the first half. Coach (Cremins) always tells us to keep playing. They were on a big run and I knew we would be on a run sooner or later. We needed to take care of rebounding and play defense. We did that in the second half and things started to change for us.”
With the win against the Volunteers, it marks the first time since 2008-09 that the Cougars have a record of 8-1. This is their second best start in the first nine games played during a season in the Bobby Cremins era.
CofC will next face Charleston Southern on Saturday, December 17 at TD Arena at 6 p.m.