Oxford faces challenging week

A quick look at the schedule for the Oxford College men's basketball team reveals the Eagles have a pair of non-conference games this week, but those two games will be anything but easy.

Oxford split a pair of Georgia College Athletic Association games last week, defeating Southern Crescent Tech 75-50 on Jan. 26 and losing 79-71 at West Georgia Tech on Jan. 28.

The Eagles (14-7, 3-2) will host the Huntingdon College junior varsity at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Division I Gordon College at 2 p.m. on Saturday and will return to league play at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 7, hosting Middle Georgia Tech.

Assistant coach Aaron Snipes said Tuesday that while the Eagles thumped Huntingdon College 113-65 on Jan. 14 in Montgomery, Ala., they're not taking anything for granted this time around.

"When we practiced Monday, we said there's nothing we can do about the West Georgia Tech game, so we've got to focus on Huntingdon," he said. "I imagine since we had such a good game against them at their place, their coach is probably going to bring some guys from the varsity with them to make the trip worthwhile. So we're not taking them lightly."

Snipes added that the game against Gordon College (14-6), Oxford may be facing its biggest and toughest opponent of the season.

"They're a Division I team and they're going to be much bigger," Snipes said, noting the Highlanders have a 7-footer, a 6-8 player and a 6-7 player on the roster. "That's the biggest lineup we'll have faced all year. We're just going to have to try to get our biggest lineup in there and maximize our rebounding and try to hold them to one shot per possession."

Sam Kim, a conference leader in rebounding who stands 6-3, Brandon Romans (6-5) and Mitchell Lee (6-4) are the Eagles' front line players and they often have a difficult time defending in the low post.

"Our interior defense needs a little work," said Snipes. "They've been struggling a little bit defense-wise. Gordon's going to be one of the better teams we've faced this year with their size, and we think if we can just simply do the little things we have a decent chance because our offense has been playing well. Our perimeter defense has also been good, but we've just got to tighten up our interior defense."

Prior to its loss last weekend to West Georgia Tech, Oxford was on a nice roll, winning five consecutive games. Snipes praised the Eagles' overall performance at West Georgia Tech, but said just a few mistakes made the difference in the game.

"Big picture, we just made some bad mistakes at the absolute wrong time," he said. "We were ahead by 11 points with three minutes left in the first half and in about two minutes, they were back in it. We executed well for most of the first half but in the second half we shot poorly from the field and that hurt. Once they took the lead, we couldn't recover."

The Eagles had four players score in double figures against West Georgia Tech. Zachary Lynn led Oxford with 17 points and was followed by Kevin Tolbert (13 points) Alex Ordu (12 points) and Evan Dunwoodie (11 points). Snipes was particularly proud of the play of Tolbert, who drew the unenviable task of guarding West Georgia Tech's Demontray McCormick, who came into the game averaging 20 points a night.

"We had to game plan to stop (McCormick), and Tolbert hugged him the whole game," said Snipes. "We felt we could handle everybody else. Kevin held (McCormick) to 13 points and half of those came from the free-throw line. But our mistakes killed us. I'd say we played an 85 percent game. You can still get by some nights on 85 percent, but not when your opponent is hitting big shots."

For more information on Oxford College men's basketball, follow this link to www.oxford.emory.edu/athletics.