Winthrop coach Randy Peele won't let his team look any further than tonight's opponent, the High Point Panthers.
The Eagles snapped a two-game Big South skid with a 74-58 win over Radford on Thursday night. They did it with pressure defense. On offense Winthrop scored in transition. They were patient in half-court sets and got the ball inside.
The team's reward? Wind sprints.
Peele set a goal to hold Radford to 50 points and no more than 10 offensive rebounds. Winthrop outscored the Highlanders by 15 points in the second half but were still diving on the floor for loose balls and working hard on defense until the final buzzer. Eagles' forward George Valentine dove into the Radford bench after a ball in the waning minutes.
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Either this team really doesn't like running sprints, or they take Peele's goals seriously. Maybe its both.
Regardless, Winthrop started Friday's practice with sprints because Radford tallied 58 points and 13 offensive boards. Afterward all the attention was turned to High Point.
Winthrop (8-10, 4-4 Big South) takes on a depleted High Point team tonight at 7 at the Coliseum.
Panthers coach Scott Cherry suspended two players - Nick Barbour and Corey Law - prior to Thursday's game at Presbyterian for violation of team rules.
Barbour, a junior guard, is the Big South's Preseason Player of the Year. He leads the team in scoring at 15.9 points a game. Law, a sophomore forward, is the team's top rebounder.
Barbour was suspended for two games. He will miss tonight's game. Law was suspended indefinitely. He could play tonight, but that hasn't been determined, according to a High Point official.
Cherry made no mention of the suspensions in his postgame comments after his team's 64-60 overtime win at Presbyterian on Thursday night.
In that game junior guard Shay Shine made all six of his 3-point attempts on his way to a career-high 27 points. Shine made two 3s in the extra period.
Du'Vaughn Maxwell and Xavier Martin came off the bench to combine for 23 points.
"Shay was huge, Xavier Martin was huge, Du'Vaughn Maxwell was huge ... I can just go down the line and talk about how everyone contributed," Cherry said on High Point's athletics website.
"We got defensive stops when we needed them. It was a great game, we haven't tasted a win in a while."
With a suspension, or two, in play for tonight's contest it will be the third time in Winthrop's last four outings that opponents have dealt with team issues.
Coastal Carolina played without Mike Holmes and Desmond Holloway on Jan. 13. Holmes has since been dismissed from the team. CCU coach Cliff Ellis told The Sun News of Myrtle Beach after Thursday's win at UNC Asheville, "As of (Wednesday), he is no longer enrolled in school."
Radford's leading scorer Gorkem Sonmez didn't play the first half of Thursday's game at the Coliseum. Highlanders coach Brad Greenberg said it was a practice issue on Wednesday that put the 6-foot-5 sharp-shooting guard on the bench.
Barbour's last three games against Winthrop have been good ones. He has scored 20, 17 and 31 against the Eagles. Law had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the Panthers' 71-66 win at The Millis Center last season.
High Point (6-11, 3-5) has won only once at the Winthrop Coliseum in 13 tries. Cruz Daniels' putback with 2.4 seconds on the clock gave the Panthers a 42-40 road win two years ago. Facing a zone defense for most of the game, Winthrop shot 26.4 percent (14-53). It was the Eagles' second-worst shooting performance at the Division I level.
Winthrop beat the Panthers 82-68 on Dec. 5, 2009, the last time the teams met in Rock Hill. In that game, Reggie Middleton came off the bench to score a then-career-high 25 points.
Middleton hit 4-of-5 shots from 3-point range, was 5-for-6 from the free throw line, had four assists and six rebounds.