TERRE HAUTE —
The Indiana State-Big South Conference Challenge continues at 1 p.m. today at Hulman Center.
If that comes off as a smart-aleck remark, it’s not meant to. ISU’s opponent — High Point — is nothing to snicker at.
The visiting Panthers are the second team from the Big South to play at ISU in as many home dates for the Sycamores. ISU defeated Winthrop 70-57 on Nov. 13.
ISU coach Greg Lansing noted that High Point will be the best team the Sycamores have played aside from UCLA.
“I’m so impressed with this team. They’ll run it right down your throat and take their first good shot. They’re a really well-schooled team. They’re quick and athletic and they’ll pressure you until they turn you over. They’re really good at playing two speeds,” Lansing said.
Like ISU, High Point is 3-1. Unlike the Sycamores, the Panthers draw their strength inside the paint with a pair of gifted forwards in freshman John Brown and sixth-year senior Allan Chaney.
Brown, a 6-foot-7 forward, is averaging 20.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 55.2 percent and has scored 20 or more points in three of High Point’s four games thus far.
Chaney was granted a sixth year of eligibility at High Point after he transferred from Virginia Tech. High Point is Chaney’s third school as he began his career at Florida. Chaney played sparingly for the Gators and never played a game for the Hokies.
Nonetheless, Chaney is a load at 6-9, 235 pounds and has averaged 17.2 points and 8.2 rebounds, converting an impressive 62.5 percent of his shots. Chaney has not scored fewer than 14 points in any one game this season and has had double-double’s in the Panthers’ last two games.
“I think those two guys could play just about anywhere. [Brown] is unbelievable. He was recruited by some bigger schools and I’m so impressed with how hard he plays,” Lansing said. “[High Point] likes isolations and they throw the ball into them, but their guards are good too.”
Brown and Chaney provide a challenge for ISU’s defenders, though the Sycamores did well defensively for 30 minutes against a much-bigger UCLA team on Nov. 9.
And ISU has momentum to build on. The Sycamores put on a defensive clinic in Tuesday’s 68-48 victory over Ball State. With a team still trying to find its identity, a win such as the one the Sycamores got against the Cardinals helps a great deal.
“Anytime you go on the road and win convincingly, it helps. It’s early and we’re still finding our way. From start to finish, they were focused on the task at hand, but we still have a lot of room for improvement,” Lansing said.
ISU guard Dawon Cummings agreed.
“It was a good win to build on, but we still made some mistakes. We need to fix those and we need to take the good things and make them better,” he said last Tuesday.
One thing Lansing wants to improve is ISU’s practice regimen. The team took two days off for Thanksgiving before it returned to practice on Friday. While game concentration was good last Tuesday, Lansing wants to see practice concentration get there too.
“Even though we won, I didn’t think the practices were as good as we need to be. We need to keep striving to get there. The last two days were a little sloppy for my liking even though the guys are working hard and we can’t fault the effort,” Lansing said.
ISU will get plenty of chances to improve their practice regimen as it enters an unusual part of its schedule. ISU will only play once-a-week for the next four weekends. It’s more like a football schedule and it has plusses and minuses with the long break between games.
“As coaches, you always want more practice time. It’s a good time to do some individual work and conditioning. The hard part is keeping them locked in, but that’s the coaching staff’s job,” Lansing said.
Lansing noted that Khristian Smith has a swollen left hand and that Manny Arop has tendinitis, but both are expected to play today.
High Point at ISU
Tipoff — 1 p.m. today at Hulman Center.
Broadcasts — Radio: WIBQ-FM (98.5). Twitter: @TribStarTodd.
Last time out — ISU defeated Ball State 68-48 on Tuesday. High Point defeated St. Andrews 93-62 on Wednesday.
Series — First meeting.
Indiana State Sycamores (3-1) — G Jake Odum (6-4, Jr, 14.8. 4.5 apg, 3.5 rpg), G Dawon Cummings (6-4, Jr., 5.5), G-F Manny Arop (6-6, Jr., 8.5, 6.3 rpg); F Justin Gant (6-8, So., 8.8, 5.8 rpg) and C Jake Kitchell (6-10, Sr., 3 ppg) are possible starters. F R.J. Mahurin (6-9, Jr., 11 ppg), G Khristian Smith (6-6, Fr., 6 ppg), G Lucas Eitel (6-2, So., 5.3), G Devonte Brown (6-3, Fr., 3 ppg), F Rhett Smith (6-7, Fr., 0 ppg), G Brandon Burnett (6-6, Fr., 0 ppg), and F T.J. Bell (6-8, Fr., 0 ppg) are key reserves.
Coach — Greg Lansing (41-30 at ISU, 3rd year).
High Point Panthers (3-1) — F John Brown (6-7, Fr., 20.3, 6.3 rpg), F Allan Chaney (6-9, Sr., 17.3, 8.3 rpg), G Derrel Edwards (6-2, Jr., 6 ppg), G Justin Cheek (6-3, Jr., 5 ppg) and G Jairus Simms (6-1, Sr., 2 ppg, 5.3 apg) are the possible starters. G Adam Weary (6-2, Fr., 10.3), F Dejaun McGaughy (6-1, Jr., 8.8) and F Lorenzo Cugini (6-6, Fr., 4.8) are key reserves.
Coach — Scott Cherry (43-54 at HPU, 4th year).
Injuries and absences — For ISU, F R.J. Mahurin (knee) is probable.
Next games — ISU plays host to New Mexico on Saturday. High Point plays at Western Michigan on Thursday.
— Todd Golden