For the first time in more than four decades, the Towson Tigers have started the season 3-0.
The Tigers got 32 points and 10 boards from Jerrelle Benimon and as a team corralled 22 offensive rebounds to knock off Temple 75-69. That comes on the heels of wins over Navy and Morgan State, and while that, in and of itself, isn’t really all that impressive, think about it like this: a couple of seasons ago, we were wondering whether or not the Tigers would actually win a game.
During the whole season.
And now they are heading into a week where they will be going on trips to Villanova and Kansas with the kind of talent on their roster that makes it far from inconceivable that they can pull off an upset.
Now, to be fair, they are going to need to get more production from their perimeter. Towson beat up a Temple team that has a young and small front line. That won’t happen against bigger programs.
But this win came with Jerome Hairston, a former top 100 recruit, doing almost nothing after picking up a technical foul in the first half and Four McGlynn taking an 0-fer. What happens on the nights when both of those guys get it going?
Towson entered the season as the CAA favorite with the reigning CAA Player of the Year on their roster. But Benimon got better, and his supporting cast did as well.
Until the Tigers pull off a win against the Wildcats or the Jayhawks, it’s best to keep our expectations somewhat in check.
But let it be known now: this is a team you’ll want to keep an eye on throughout the year.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.