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First-Place Furman hosts UTC Thursday in conference matchup

The Paladins will be counting on their fans in the battle to hold onto first place.

The Furman men’s basketball team is on a roll.  The Paladins have won six straight games in the Southern Conference and sit alone atop the league standings as they prepare to host defending champion UT-Chattanooga Thursday night in one of the biggest games of the conference season.

Tip-off between the Paladins and Mocs is set for 7 p.m. in Timmons Arena and the game will be streamed live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

Furman (16-8, 9-2 SoCon) claimed its sixth straight win and maintained a hold on first place in the conference standings with a 99-91 victory at The Citadel on Saturday afternoon that capped a 3-0 road trip for head coach Niko Medved’s team. Following wins at UNCG and Mercer, the Paladins raced out to a 57-40 halftime lead on the Bulldogs, built a 28-point advantage in the second half and held off a late Citadel charge to notch six consecutive SoCon wins for the first time since winning 10 straight league games during the 1979-80 season.

Junior Devin Sibley, who leads Furman in scoring at 17.7 points per game and has produced at a 20.3 per game clip in league play, tallied a career-high 32 points in the Paladins’ victory in Charleston, S.C., while senior Kris Acox posted 19 points and 11 rebounds to record his third double-double in Furman’s last four games and his seventh of the campaign.

The Paladins return to Timmons Arena where they have won a school-record 14 consecutive SoCon games and have posted a 21-3 overall record in their last 24 contests on their home floor. Thursday’s game marks the 84th all-time meeting between Furman and Chattanooga with the Mocs holding a 54-29 series lead. The Mocs (17-6, 8-3 SoCon), preseason favorites to win the SoCon, connected on 9-of-20 three-point attempts and 25-of-30 trips to the charity stripe en route to an 80-64 victory over Furman in the first meeting of the year on January 7, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Furman has dropped seven of its last nine games versus Chattanooga, but the Paladins did claim a 70-55 win over the Mocs at Timmons Arena last season. In 38 previous contests, Furman holds a 20-18 series lead versus UTC in Greenville.

On the strength of its wins at Mercer and The Citadel this past week, Furman climbed one spot to No. 19 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll after debuting at No. 20 last week. The Mocs are ranked No. 13 in this week’s poll.

Thursday is the “Paladin Hoedown” at Timmons Arena and all fans are encouraged to wear their best country attire.

The Paladins continue their brief homestand on Saturday when they host the Samford Bulldogs at 4 p.m.

The audio broadcast of the game will be available locally in Greenville on FoxSports 1440AM and worldwide by using the TuneIn Radio app. Links for the video stream, audio stream and live statistics can be found at FurmanPaladins.com.  Tickets for both Thursday and Saturday’s games are available at the Timmons Arena Box Office or online at FurmanPaladins.com.

Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information

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