12/02/11 — Good challenges await MOC

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Good challenges await MOC

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 2, 2011 1:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Coming off an extended holiday break and battling a flu bug that's gone through the team, Mount Olive College finally returns to the basketball court tonight and Saturday afternoon.

And the Trojan men face two good challenges.

Mount Olive (5-0 overall) opposes Elizabeth City State today at 5:30 p.m. inside Wilson Gymnasium. On Saturday, the Trojans battle St. Augustine's at 2 p.m.

Talented and athletic ECSU (4-1) has posted quality wins over perennial Peach Belt power USC Aiken and Division I Norfolk State (Va.) University in early-season play. Junior guard Angelo Sharpless leads the Vikings in scoring (12 points) and rebounds (6.6) per game, while backcourt mate Marquie Cooke contributes 10 points an outing.

Senior Omar Jones, who hails from Kinston, chips in nine points per game.

"They have a lot of depth and versatility," said MOC head coach Joey Higginbotham. "We must be able to defend, take care of the ball (and) keep them off the glass. We have our work cut out for us, but we are ready for the challenge."

The Trojans will encounter a more-balanced offense against St. Aug's.

Six-foot-4 sophomore guard Joel Kindred knocks down nearly 19 points a game, while redshirt sophomore guard Chris Johnson is scoring at a 10.5-point clip. Freshman forward Jordan Jones, a Hertford County alum, and Norfolk State transfer Jeremy Banks combine to average 18-plus points each contest.

St. Aug's is 2-2 overall.

"They have a few new players and they will be a tough matchup for us," said Higginbotham.

Mount Olive has five players who average more than eight points a game and three in double figures -- senior Craig Hayes (15.0), senior guard Derek Staton (14.2) and junior Darrell Patterson (12.4).

Senior Kason Cheeks and Hayes average 5.8 and 5.4 rebounds, respectively. Staton and Dory Hines pull down nearly five rebounds apiece each game.

"Since we've got back in the gym, we have been stressing improving on defense and communication," said Higginbotham. "We are excited to get back on the court this weekend."