The Oxford College men's basketball team has cooled off somewhat from its rather torrid start, but the Eagles now appear to be back on track, although losing their leading scorer to injury may be a difficult hurdle to manage.
Ending 2011 on Dec. 17 with a Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association loss to Middle Georgia Technical College, Oxford began 2012 on the road, suffering back-to-back losses in Florida to Brevard Community College and Pasco-Hernando Community College.
"We played hard and competed, but we just came up short," said Oxford coach Roderick Stubbs. "Even though we lost, I could tell that we were getting better."
Still away from Georgia, the Eagles on Jan. 14 made history when they defeated the Huntington (Ala.) College junior varsity 113-65, the most points scored in a game by an Oxford College team.
Against Huntington, Zachary Lynn led the Eagles (10-6, 1-1) with 24 points, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range. Former Newton star Alex Ordu added 20 points, seven assists, five steals and no turnovers, and Richard Obiora and Zach Carlson came off the bench to score 17 points each.
Unfortunately, a name missing from Oxford's line score is that of sophomore Stephen Simmons, who averages a team-leading 12 points per game. Simmons, a pre-season All-Conference selection and the seventh-leading scorer in the GCAA, suffered a leg injury in the Pasco-Hernando game and could be out a while.
"He could be out indefinitely," said Stubbs. "It's really too bad, too, because he was finding his rhythm in the new year. He scored 18 points against Brevard and had 17 points against Pasco-Hernando before he got hurt. The trainer said he could be out several weeks. That's a big loss."
Stubbs has inserted Lynn, a junior from Buford, into Simmons' scoring role.
"Zach's an excellent shooter," said Stubbs. "He shoots 45 percent from 3-point range (best in the conference), so he's got the green light. We want him to shoot more and be more aggressive."
Among conference leaders, Ordu ranks first with an average of five steals per game and Sam Kim is first in the league in rebounding, averaging 10 per night.
The Eagles will host the Bryan (Tenn.) College junior varsity tonight at Williams Gymnasium. In late November, Oxford got by Bryan 84-81 in Dayton, Tenn., with four players scoring in double figures.
"That was a tough game," said Stubbs. "It was near the start of the season, and we've gotten better since we played them the first time."
Oxford will host West Georgia Tech -- which is 3-0 in the conference at 6 p.m. Saturday and will again play host to the Greenville Titans at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Eagles defeated the Titans 89-63 on Dec. 4.
"We'll have a lot of home games in the second half of the season," said Stubbs. "We'll just settle in and take advantage of our home court."
For more information on Oxford College men's basketball, visit www.oxford.emory.edu/athletics.