Friday, November 1, 2013
AUGUSTA, GA – The USC Aiken Pacers have been selected as the team to beat in 2013-14 as a poll of the Peach Belt Conference men's basketball coaches was released on Friday. The Pacers received 11 of a possible 13 first-place votes to finish with 167 total points. GRU Augusta and Montevallo were tied for second with 150 each while North Georgia was fourth and UNC Pembroke fifth. Georgia Southwestern, Francis Marion, Columbus State, Lander, Young Harris, Armstrong, Flagler, Clayton State and Georgia College rounded out the voting.
USC Aiken made history last year, winning the NCAA Southeast Region tournament for the first time in school history and advancing to their first Elite Eight. The Pacers won the PBC regular-season and tournament championships a year ago with a 15-4 PBC record, 25-8 overall. For this season, USCA returns nearly their entire lineup featuring 10 seniors with four starters returning. Forward Paul Larsen and guard Ronald Zimmerman were both named PBC All-Conference last year and preseason All-Conference this season. In all, USCA returns seven of their top eight scorers from last year and have already been ranked #4 nationally in the Division II Bulletin preseason poll.
GRU Augusta finished fourth in the east division last season with a 14-13 overall record, 9-10 in conference play but return four of their five starters and eight letterwinners overall. Senior guard Ryan Weems was named PBC All-Conference last season and led the team in scoring with 15.7 ppg. The Jaguars also bring back junior guard D'Angelo Boyce and forwards Devon Wright-Nelson, the 2011-12 PBC Freshman of the Year, and Devonte Thomas, both of whom averaged over 11 points per game.
Montevallo reached the PBC Tournament championship game for the third time in the last four years in 2012-13. The Falcons have finished atop the PBC west division for the last two years and return junior guard Troran Brown this season. Brown was named first-team All-Conference last season and a preseason All-Conference pick by the PBC and preseason All-American by the Division II Bulletin. He was third in the PBC with 18.7 ppg and fifth with 5.8 assists per game.
North Georgia had their best finish in the PBC standings since 2009-10 last year as they were third in the west with a 10-9 conference record, 16-12 overall. The newly rebranded Nighthawks also reached the semifinals of the PBC Tournament for the second time as a part of the PBC. For 2013-14, UNG returns five seniors and four of their five starters. Ishmael Hollis was named second-team All-Conference a year ago after leading the team with 15.4 ppg and being ranked eighth in the PBC with 7.3 rebounds per game. Senior guard Lamar Richardson was third on the team in scoring with 13.5 ppg a year ago while Chris Tanzy was fifth in the PBC in assists.