By Matt Green
#2 Hawks (24-1) vs. #4 Southern Poly (20-4)
Monday, Feb. 13 • 8 pm • Marietta, Ga.
MARIETTA, Ga. – The Southern States Athletic Conference will again take center stage in NAIA men's basketball on Monday, Feb. 13 at 8 pm as No. 2 Shorter travels to No. 4 Southern Poly for a pivotal East Division showdown in Marietta.
The Hawks (24-1, 14-0 SSAC) have yet to lose in SSAC play. Shorter is seeking the season sweep of Southern Poly (20-4, 12-2), whom the Hawks beat 74-65 at home on Jan. 19.
Shorter will more than likely return to the nation's No. 1 ranking by the time it tips against the Hornets on Monday night, but the Hawks have much more on the line than simply protecting their fourth week of the season at the top of the national poll.
A win for the Hawks on Monday clinches the SSAC East Division regular season championship and a No. 1 seed in the upcoming SSAC Tournament. A loss would bring Southern Poly to within one game of Shorter with three conference games left on the schedule.
Both teams come into Monday night's game still in the process of righting the ship after recent upset losses.
Shorter has won two in a row since having its 22-game winning streak snapped in a 73-72 loss at Point University on Feb. 2. Southern Poly dropped a 65-63 decision on the road at Emmanuel on Jan. 30, but has proceeded to win its last three games by an average of 24 points.
Rome native Bobby Smith scored a team-high 19 points in Southern Poly's most recent win, a 76-60 victory over Southern Wesleyan on Saturday night. He leads the Hornets in scoring at just over 14 points a game and is certainly determined to make up for his 2-for-10 showing in their first meeting with Shorter.
The 3-point shot will be the key for Southern Poly. The Hornets hit 11 treys in January, but needed 39 attempts to get there.
Southern Poly will have to find a way to deal with Shorter's trio of Anthony Banks, C.J. Davis and Walter Hill, who combined for 45 points and 24 rebounds in that January win. Hill (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Banks (10 points, 10 rebounds) had double-doubles while Davis hit three 3-pointers on his way to 17 points.
Fans can follow the game on 95.7 WATG-FM The Ridge or by accessing the live webcast available via the link titled "LISTEN to Hawk Athletics" under FAN ZONE on the Shorter Athletics website. Live stats are available through Dakstats.