OXFORD The Oxford College men's basketball team put the finishing touches on a productive week Sunday, defeating the visiting Greenville Titans 89-63 to record their third victory of the week and their fourth in a row.
Last Wednesday, the Eagles (8-3, 1-0 in GCAA's Region 17) bested the junior varsity from Emmanuel College 87-63 and made history Friday night when they played in the first Division III junior college basketball game in Georgia, easily dispatching Southern Crescent Tech 80-60 in Griffin.
"This is pretty much where we expected to be," Oxford coach Roderick Stubbs said Sunday. "We still can get better and that's what we're going to continue to try to do, but I think we're doing well for the first 11 games."
Sunday's victory did not come without some first-half difficulties, however, as the Titans, an independent junior college basketball program from South Carolina, used its height and quickness to take a seven-point lead at 19-12 with a little less than 10 minutes remaining.
But in the final minutes of the half, former Newton star Alex Ordu and Kevin Tolbert engineered an impressive comeback, outscoring Greenville 25-13 to take a 37-32 advantage at intermission.
Ordu scored six points in the final three minutes of the half while Tolbert added three points.
"They were handling our pressure defense in the first half and we had a lot of turnovers, which got us out of sync," Stubbs said, noting the Eagles committed seven first-half miscues, including five whistles for traveling. "Once we tightened up and stopped turning the ball over, it allowed us to extend our lead.
"I was afraid we might be a little fatigued, because we've had a long week. We had games on Wednesday and Friday, but we knew we had to work through it and we were hoping it would all come together in the second half."
Fatigue and a relentless Oxford full-court press proved to be the enemy of Greenville (which had but seven players) as the Eagles launched a 20-2 run in the first five minutes of the second half and outscored the Titans 52-31 in the final 20 minutes of play.
"They were pretty athletic and quick, but they only had seven players," freshman Samuel Kim, who was Oxford's high scorer with 15 points, said. "When we tried to trap early, they beat our trap easily. But by the second half, we kept at it and were able to slow them down."
"The first five minutes of the second half, the starting unit didn't allow us to score, so our pressure defense allowed us to get out and score in transition," Stubbs added. "We saw that they had seven players, so we told our guys that we would try to wear them down by playing a lot of players. At the beginning of the second half, our depth showed."
Stubbs was able to get all 14 of his players significant playing time, and 11 players registered points, including five Eagles who scored in double figures.
"All year, the guys have been doing a good job of looking for each other, and we normally double our amount of assists to turnovers," he said. "So it's just a continuation of that. We stress trying to have four or five guys in double figures so the other team can't just try to stop one man."
Following Kim in the scoring column were Stephen Simmons (12 points), Zachary Lynn (12 points), Tolbert (12 points) and Ordu (10 points). Byron Stufken added nine points and Evan Dunwoodie contributed seven points.
The Eagles will host the junior varsity from Tennessee-Temple at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and then will be off for 11 days for exams before returning to Region 17 play on Saturday, Dec. 17, against Middle Georgia Tech in Fort Valley.
For more information on Oxford men's basketball, visit www.oxford.emory.edu/athletics.