OXFORD -- After getting off to a high-flying start, the Oxford College men's basketball team has been temporarily grounded after experiencing its first setbacks of the season.
Ascending to 3-0 on Nov. 10 after defeating Shorter 86-63, the Eagles found the road an unfriendly place as they lost on Saturday against Truett-McConnell's junior varsity 84-75 in Cleveland and then fell on Monday to Georgia Perimeter 84-50 in Decatur.
"We're going through some growing pains," said Oxford coach Roderick Stubbs, who will lead his team into battle at 7 p.m. today against NAIA member Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn.
The Eagles opened the season with a 90-76 victory over Truett-McConnell, but Oxford didn't give itself much of a chance in last week's rematch, Stubbs said.
"We didn't come out with the intensity we needed to be successful," he said. "Truett-McConnell jumped on us early they were ahead at one point in the first half by 20 points. We were able to cut it to 13 at the half and we played a much better second half, but we couldn't climb back in the game. We came out flat and we didn't shoot well, and Truett-McConnell took advantage of it."
Former Oconee County standout Byron Stufken led Oxford against Truett-McConnell with a career-high 26 points, and he was followed by sophomore Evan Dunwoodie (19 points) and Sam Kim (17 rebounds).
In Monday's game against perennial GJCAA Division I power Georgia Perimeter (2-2), the Eagles again played uninspired in the early going and shot poorly (26 percent), not a winning combination when playing a team that includes five players who stand 6-foot-7 or above.
"They are a powerhouse, year in and year out," Stubbs said of GPC. "We got off to another bad start and were behind by 24 points at halftime. We played better in the second half, but they were the best team we've played this year. They're very athletic and they had a tremendous height advantage. They had a guy 6-11, 6-8 and 6-7 and outrebounded us 51-36. They just kept pounding the ball inside and using their height well."
Freshman Zachary Carlson, who came all the way from the Hong Kong International School to enroll at Oxford, scored a team-high nine points off the bench.
In Oxford's Nov. 10 victory at Shorter, sophomore Stephen Simmons led the Eagles with 16 points, accompanied by Zachary Lynn (14 points), Richard Obiora (14 points) and Stufken (13 points).
Once the team has made the 3-mile return trip from Bryan, they can focus on their first home game in 19 days. At 2 p.m. Sunday in Williams Gymnasium, the Eagles will host Caldwell Technical Community College. And the next day, Oxford will close out the first portion of its season with a 7 p.m. game at Anderson (S.C.) University against the Trojans' JV.
"We're looking forward to playing at home again," Stubbs said. "With so many games on the road, it will be nice to play in front of a friendly crowd."
After the Eagles' game against Anderson, the team will join other Oxford students in a break for Thanksgiving and won't play again until Friday, Dec. 2, when the Eagles travel to Griffin for a 7:30 p.m. game against Southern Crescent Technical College.
"We're looking forward to getting back on track," Stubbs said. "We've had two tough losses and we look forward to taking care of business in our next three games before Thanksgiving. We want to go into the break on a good note."
For more information, visit www.oxford.emory.edu/athletics.