Oxford looking to come back strong after holiday

OXFORD -- The Thanksgiving break could not come soon enough for coach Roderick Stubbs and the Oxford College men's basketball team.

The Eagles (5-3) closed out the first portion of the 2011-12 season with a trio of games, defeating the Bryan (Tenn.) College junior varsity 84-81 on Nov. 16, losing 71-54 to Caldwell Tech on Sunday and defeating Anderson College's JV 90-58 on Monday.

Due to injuries and illness, the Eagles played Caldwell Tech and Anderson College with just 10 players, so Stubbs is grateful for the brief respite the team will have before returning to campus for an evening practice on Sunday.

"The players need a little time off to recover, go home and enjoy the holiday," Stubbs said. "Then they'll be back Sunday to get ready for our next game."

Stubbs said that Mitch Lee has been out due to a concussion, Byron Stufken was slowed by flu-like symptoms, Evan Dunwoodie was favoring an ankle and Jason Levick just didn't feel well, although Stubbs didn't think he had the flu.

"We should be back to full-strength by next Wednesday," Stubbs said. "We should have everybody back."

Oxford College will host the Emmanuel College junior varsity at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at historic Williams Gymnasium. The Eagles will then open play in the NJCAA's Division III on Friday, Dec. 2, at Southern Crescent Tech in Griffin.

On Nov. 16, the Eagles snapped a two-game losing streak with a narrow victory over Bryan College, converting 21 turnovers into 29 points, having four players score in double figures and coming from behind to win in the last nine minutes of the game.

Former Newton County standout Alex Ordu led the way with 18 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals. He was followed by Stephen Simmons (16 points), Kevin Tolbert (13 points), Zachary Lynn (11 points) and Sam Kim (14 rebounds).

The Eagles returned home on Sunday, Nov. 20, to host Caldwell Tech and after an admirable first half in which they held a 29-24 advantage, the wheels fell off in the final 20 minutes as Caldwell Tech outscored Oxford 47-25.

"You've got to give Caldwell credit for their intensity," Stubbs said. "They came out and dominated the second half. We went about seven minutes without scoring and they went on a 15-0 run. That pretty much took care of things."

Simmons was high scorer with 13 points, and he also pulled down six rebounds. Lynn and Tolbert scored 11 points each, and Ordu contributed 10 points.

At Anderson College on Monday, Nov. 21, Simmons -- a preseason All-Conference selection -- was 5 of 7 from beyond the 3-point line and finished the game with a team-high 21 points. Roman Woodburn, a freshman from North Clayton, recorded a double-double of 10 points and 16 rebounds. Brandon Bassell, a sophomore from Brookwood, added 19 points for the Eagles.

"We just jumped out early and never looked back," said Stubbs, who added the Eagles held a 24-point lead at halftime against Anderson. "Everybody played and everybody scored. We were on our game on the boards, outrebounding them 53-34 and we were a bit more aggressive with our pressure defense, where we caused 23 turnovers."

Pleased that his team went out "on a good note" before the Thanksgiving break, Stubbs said he likes the direction his young team is pursuing.

"We're progressing -- we're definitely getting better," Stubbs said. "We're 5-3 and I was hoping we'd be 7-1, but it's a learning experience for the guys. We've got so many players who are learning to play college-level basketball. We'll get even better as the season progresses."