Pioneers picked eighth in SAC men’s basketball poll

ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Tusculum College men’s basketball team has been picked to finish eighth in the South Atlantic Conference with the release of the 2016-17 SAC Coaches’ Poll on Thursday.

The Pioneers received 54 total points in a vote of the league’s 12 men’s basketball coaches.

Lincoln Memorial is the favorite to repeat as league champions as the 2016 NCAA Division II national runner-up received 121 points, including 11 first place votes. Wingate and Queens are tied for second with 100 points apiece. Carson-Newman is fourth with 85 points, followed by Catawba (82), Newberry (74), Lenoir-Rhyne (61), Tusculum, Anderson (50), Coker (31), Mars Hill (23) and Brevard (11).

Tusculum head coach Michael Jones, who is entering his sixth season in Greeneville, returns eight lettermen and two starters from last year’s 14-15 squad that finished eighth in the conference. The Pioneers finished the season strong a year ago, winning four of its last five regular season games, including overtime victories over Carson-Newman and nationally-ranked Queens.

Leading the charge for the Pioneers this season will be 6-10 senior center Chase Mounce, who averaged 13.3 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds per game. Also returning to the starting line-up for the Tusculum is senior point guard Kendall Patterson, who averaged 9.3 points per game and dished out 3.76 assists per contest.

Also back for Tusculum from a year ago are Zach Davis, Cory Fagan, Vincent Brown, Gunner Beamer, Zach Hartle and Malik Tyree, along with redshirt sophomore Connor Mitchell and redshirt freshman Diego Poore. The Pioneers will also have 11 newcomers on this year’s roster.

Tusculum will open the season next weekend as the Black and Orange will host the SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge at Pioneer Arena. Lincoln Memorial, King, and Lees-McRae will join the Pioneers for opening weekend. LMU and King will get things started at 6 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 11), while Tusculum will open its season at 8 p.m. against Lees-McRae. LMU will play Lees-McRae on Saturday (Nov. 12) at 3 p.m., followed by Tusculum and King at 5 p.m.

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