For Thanksgiving this year, the Cougars men’s basketball team sliced their turkey and mashed their potatoes down in the hometown of junior guard Grant Riller: Orlando, FL.
The team, led by its two preseason 1st-team All-CAA members Jarrell Brantley and Grant Riller, marched down to the Walt Disney World of Sports HP Field House for the AdvoCare Invitational.
The tourney served as an excellent opportunity for the squad to gauge where they stood in this early stage of the season, as they faced off against highly competitive programs from various conferences.
On Thanksgiving day, the College faced its toughest competitor of the tourney: the nationally ranked LSU Tigers. The AP No. 19 team, LSU, came to play on Thursday. Despite a breakout performance from Brantley (27 pts, 9-19), the College simply didn’t have enough offensive firepower that day in order to secure a win.
The guys battled from tip to the final buzzer to keep it within reach, but could never heat up on both ends at the same time in order to grab the lead. This opening game featured lackluster shooting from the Cougars, including a 1-7 game from redshirt freshman Zep Jasper and a 2-10 game from Riller.
In another great game from Brantley, the senior forward battled amongst the trees, muscling his way to a near double-double (27 pts, 9 rebs) against a group of physical big men for the Tigers.
Defensively, these bigs gave the Cougars fits on Thursday, shooting an extremely efficient clip from near the rim all game.
This game ended in a 12-point loss for the College, final score being 67-55. The biggest disparity in this game was that of field goal percentage, where LSU shot 51% and Charleston only managed a measly 34%.
Despite this defeat, seeing how the team measured up against a nationally ranked team like LSU will go a long way for the College as the schedule becomes more treacherous with time. Looking to bounce back from getting pounced on by the Tigers, the Cougars looked onto their matchup with the UAB Blazers.
They did just that, asserting dominance in a 74-51 route. This game had Grant Riller back to his old scoring ways, torching the field for 33 points and 6 assists, on 13-17 shooting. The rest of the scoring was distributed amongst the rest of the roster, who did a nice job in diversifying the scoring effort in an efficient manner.
The team shot 55.8% from the floor in their second game, and 31.6% from deep.
To round out their experience at the AdvoCare Invitational, Charleston battled against their second batch of tigers, the Memphis Tigers in a tightly contested game.
In this dynamic matchup between Earl Grant and Penny Hardaway’s squads, point guard scoring was the name of the game. Memphis guard Tyler Harris and Grant Riller duelled throughout the game, scoring 25 and 32 points, respectively.
Despite the Tigers shooting better percentages than the Cougars from both the field and 3-point land, the boys were able to secure this impactful victory thanks to late game cutch play and contributions from Jarrell Brantley (19 pts, 8 rebs), and Brevin Galloway (15 pts, 5-9 3FG). This resilience, along with an overwhelming free throw advantage, helped the College snag its fifth win on the year.
Following this learning experience at the AdvoCare Invitational, the College will come back to TD Arena to hopefully continue building onto the second-longest home winning streak in the country (18 wins, second only to South Dakota State’s 23).
The Cougars take on a three-game homestand starting tonight when they tip off against the SC State Bulldogs @ 7:00 pm.