01/03/06 — Trojans face two tough tests

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Trojans face two tough tests

Published in Sports on January 3, 2006 2:01 PM

MOC Sports Information

On Wednesday night, the nationally ninth-ranked Mount Olive College men's basketball team will compete in a matchup of top 10 teams for the first time in school history. But before the Trojans can even think about Wednesday's historic event, they need to focus on an opponent whose only loss this season came against one of last year's Elite Eight.

Mount Olive, ranked No. 9 in the NABC Division II Top 25, is in Institute, W. Va., this week to compete in the West Virginia State University Classic. The Trojans face Charleston (W. Va.) today at 5:30 p.m., then take on No. 10 West Virginia State Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Mount Olive (7-1) is playing for the first time in nearly three weeks, coming off an 89-67 win at home against Chowan on Dec. 15. The Trojans outscored Chowan 32-7 in the final eight minutes of the first half to break open a one-point game. Preseason All-American Elton Coffield leads four players in double figures with 14.5 points per game. Coffield broke out of a two-game slump with 17 points against Chowan.

Victor Young, a senior from Goldsboro, is averaging 14.1 points per contest. He has reached double figures in all but one game this season and 11 of his last 12 games dating back to last season.

Melvin Creddle, who is averaging 12.1 points per contest, owns the Trojans' highest single-game scoring total this season with 27 points against Francis Marion in November. Maurice Horton is averaging 10.0 points per game, including a 14.0 average in his last three games.

Charleston (6-1) has had almost as much downtime as Mount Olive, coming off an 87-61 win over Shawnee State (Ohio) on Dec. 17. The Golden Eagles have won three in a row since an 85-69 loss to Findlay (Ohio), which joined Mount Olive in the 2005 Elite Eight. Findlay was ranked No. 1 in last year's final regular season top 25.

West Virginia State is in action for the first time since splitting a pair of games in the Hoop N Surf Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Dec. 19-20. The Yellow Jackets defeated Ouchita Baptist (Ark.) 71-61, then fell to No. 4 St. Joseph's (Ind.) 90-89. West Virginia State held an eight-point lead with 1:06 remaining in the loss.

Mount Olive fell to West Virginia State 86-84 last year in the Currance Classic at Bluefield State College (W. Va.). The Trojans erased a 17-point second-half deficit to tie the game in the final minute.

The Trojans have won five of their last six contests against teams from the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, including an 80-73 victory over Salem International in the East Regional Final of the 2005 NCAA division II Men's Basketball Championship.

The fourth team competing in the Classic is Millersville (Pa.), who Mount Olive defeated in the first round of last year's East Regional.

Mount Olive, whose highest national ranking prior to this season was No. 13, has been ranked in the top 10 in four of the first five polls this season. Mount Olive has won two of its last three games against top 10 teams, but the Trojans were unranked in all three contests.