2018-19 YEAR IN REVIEW: Men’s Basketball

2018-19 YEAR IN REVIEW: Men’s Basketball

SEWANEE, Tenn. - The Sewanee men's basketball team finished the season capturing the Southern Athletic Association Tournament Championship for the first time, and the team earned an appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1998.

Season Recap
Sewanee recorded a 22-7 overall record and an 8-6 conference mark, as the Tigers made history in non-conference play. The Tigers started the season with its best start in program history, 7-0, and went undefeated in non-conference play for the first time in program history with an 11-0 record.

The season started off with some drama. In the season opener at home against Huntingdon, Hunter Buescher, with the help of a Joey Knox offensive rebound, drained a game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds to win, 65-63.

Sewanee went through hills and valleys in conference play. After losing the conference opener at Centre to end the Purple and Gold's undefeated streak, the Tigers went into the new year sweeping Hendrix and Rhodes at home.

However, the next three games for Sewanee suffered setbacks by an average margin of 6.3 points. After a 71-64 defeat at Birmingham-Southern, Sewanee rebounded with a close, 68-67 win over Millsaps to win four of the next five games.

The Tigers also had one of the longest home winning streaks in all of NCAA Division III, posting an 18-game home winning streak, which lasted over two calendar years.

Party Like It's 1998!
Despite the loss to Berry at home on Feb. 8, Sewanee finished with wins over Oglethorpe and Centre to earn the three-seed in the SAA Tournament, which was hosted by Centre.

After losing to Hendrix in the quarterfinals as the two-seed in 2018, Sewanee responded with an 18-point win in the opening round on Feb. 22.

The Tigers earned its second trip to the SAA Tournament Championship game in the seven-year history of the league with a 70-63 win over the defending SAA Tourney Champions in Berry.

Enter the championship game over Centre, where the Tigers have not won inside Alumni Gymnasium in Danville, Ky. since 2016, and the Tigers, despite a 10-point second half lead erased, came back late.

Trailing 57-50 with 2:29 left, the Tigers made four consecutive shots from downtown, including a game-winner by Michael Barry with 2.2 seconds left to give Sewanee's first SAA Tournament championship and the program's sixth conference championship, the first since 1997.

The Tigers also went dancing back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 21 years, as they faced Guilford (N.C.) in the first round.

Memorable Game | Sewanee vs. Emory, Nov. 28
The Sewanee men's basketball team was coming off Thanksgiving with a 6-0 start, but the team's first true test of the season came on a Wednesday night inside Juhan Gymnasium.

The Tigers squared off with the Eagles of Emory, and the rivalry was renewed. The teams battled on the hardwood for the first time since 2008, and Emory holds the series advantage. However, that did not matter to Sewanee, as the program earned its first win over Emory since 2007 with an 83-70 win over the 23rd-ranked team at the time from D3hoops.Com.

As for the game itself, no team had more than a five-point lead for most of the half. When Sewanee made it a 29-22 lead with less than eight minutes remaining in the opening period, the Eagles stormed back to tie the contest at 32 points apiece with five minutes left in the period.

The Eagles used that momentum to take a 45-41 lead into the locker room.

The second half saw some adjustments for the Tigers, as they scored the first two buckets in the final period to even the score at 45 all.

The visitors attempted a comeback to regain the lead, but they did not accomplish the task. Trailing 62-58 with 13 minutes to go, the Tigers made it a 10-point lead on back-to-back triples from Matt Lee and Luke Smith at the under-eight mark.

The win against the rivals from Atlanta saw Sewanee earn history. Posting a 7-0 start, it was the best start in program history, surpassing the 6-0 start from the 1974-75 team.

Emory shot just 28.1 percent from the floor, and the 20th-best scoring offense at the time in all of NCAA Division III was held to 25 points in the final 20 minutes.

The Eagles came into the contest averaging 92.6 points per game, they were limited to a season-low scoring performance of 70 points, a number that held throughout the season.

Emory went on to win the University Athletic Association Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in the same regional site as Sewanee. Facing Wittenberg in the first round game, the Eagles were eliminated in the first round, 100-88.

SAA Statistical Leaders
Points Per Game
1st | Luke Smith - 20.1

Field Goal Percentage
4th | Cam Caldwell - 55.8%

Three-Point Field Goal Percentage
1st | Luke Smith - 43.4%

Free Throw Percentage
1st | Luke Smith - 89.7%

Assists Per Game
T-3rd | Luke Smith - 3.9

Assists-to-Turnover Ratio
1st | Michael Barry - 3.2

Steals Per Game
1st | Luke Smith - 2.1
T-5th | Cam Caldwell - 1.2

Blocked Shots Per Game
3rd | Cam Caldwell - 1.3

NCAA Statistical Leaders
Team Statistics
5th | Three-Point Field Goal Percentage Defense | 29.6%
34th | Scoring Defense | 66.7
39th | Field Goal Percentage Defense | 40.6%
44th | Total Three-Point Field Goals Made | 269

Individual Statistics
Free Throws Made
37th | Luke Smith - 131

Free Throw Percentage
16th | Luke Smith - 89.7%

Three-Point Field Goal Percentage
36th | Luke Smith - 43.4

Three-Point Field Goals Made
22nd | Luke Smith - 89

Total Points
31st | Luke Smith - 584


Southern Athletic Association
SAA Player of the Week
Nov. 12 - Hunter Buescher
Nov. 26, Dec. 31, Feb. 11 - Luke Smith

All-SAA Team
Luke Smith - First Team
Cam Caldwell - Second Team
Hunter Buescher - Honorable Mention

SAA All-Sportsmanship Team
Hunter Buescher

SAA Academic Honor Roll
Michael Barry
Jonny Crumly
Mackie Garwood
David Johnson
Luke Smith

All-South Region Team
Luke Smith - Second Team

Team of the Week
Feb. 26 - Luke Smith

U.S. Basketball Writers Association
Division III National Player of the Week
Feb. 26 - Luke Smith

National Association of Basketball Coaches
All-South District Teams
Luke Smith - Second Team

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