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Clayton State men draw Georgia Southwestern in Peach Belt Conference quarterfinals

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

From Staff Reports

On Saturday, the Clayton State Laker men's basketball team pulled off a thrilling 80-72 victory at Georgia Southwestern to close out the 2010-11 regular season.

On Tuesday, the Lakers will return to Americus for the second time in 72 hours.

The 2011 Peach Belt Conference Tournament tips off on Tuesday with quarterfinal action, and Clayton State will play at Georgia Southwestern. Start time is set for 7 p.m. at Georgia Southwestern's Storm Dome. The other quarterfinal games on Wednesday pit Francis Marion at Augusta State, UNC Pembroke at USC Aiken and Georgia College at Montevallo.

The semifinals are set for Saturday and the championship is on Sunday - both days at The Convocation Center on the campus of USC Aiken.

Head coach Gordon Gibbons' Lakers come into the quarterfinal match-up having finished the regular season with four victories in their final six games to stand 19-9 overall and 10-7 in the Peach Belt. Clayton State finished in a three-way tie for second with both Montevallo and Georgia College, but drew the No. 4 seed due to the tie-breaker criteria.

Clayton State has been led by arguably the most dynamic scoring tandem this season in the Peach Belt - senior guards Brandon Robinson and Timmy Downs. Both at one point have led the Peach Belt in scoring this season, while the other has been ranked second. Currently, Robinson leads the conference in scoring at exactly 20 points a game, while Downs is right on his heels at 19.6 points per game.

In addition, Robinson and Downs have become the fifth scoring tandem from the same team in Peach Belt history to each score 500 or more points in a season.

But lately, it hasn't stopped with just Robinson and Downs for Clayton State. Freshman point guard Zach Bradley has averaged 10 points in his last three games, including a career-high 15 points on Saturday against Georgia Southwestern. Also, senior Michael Thorogood has averaged nine points and seven rebounds in his last three games, and he also scored a career-high 15 points against Georgia Southwestern.

The Lakers have been one of the top defensive teams in the Peach Belt, allowing only 64 points a game and leading the PBC in field goal percentage defense at .380. In addition, Clayton State is also ranked fifth in the nation in field goal percentage defense.

Clayton State will face a Georgia Southwestern team under head coach Mike Leeder that finished 19-7 overall and 12-5 in the Peach Belt, winning the West Division. The Hurricanes have one of the top producing starting fives in the conference as four starters are averaging in double-figures.

Junior forward Phillip Brown averages 15 points and 11 rebounds a game, leading the PBC in rebounding. He's joined on the interior by senior forward Trayce Macon, who averages 13 points and seven rebounds a game.

On the perimeter, red-shirt freshman Colin Slotter is a top candidate for PBC Freshman of the Year honors, averaging 15 points a game. Junior point guard Evan Mobley is a three-year starter, averaging 11 points a game.