HomeSportsRivals Augusta and USC Aiken to clash tonight in important Peach Belt...

Rivals Augusta and USC Aiken to clash tonight in important Peach Belt matchup



Augusta will travel 20 miles and across the border tonight to face USC Aiken in the first of at least two matchups this season between the arch rivals. The No. 9 ranked Jaguars (16-2, 7-1) will aim to bounce back from their first Peach Belt Conference loss since last January. And the Pacers (13-5, 6-2) will seek to build on the momentum gained during last week’s successful two-game road trip that ended with a win over then No. 17 ranked Young Harris.

Augusta and No. 18 North Georgia (13-2, 6-1) hold the top two spots in the conference, while USC Aiken, Lander (14-4, 6-2) and Young Harris (14-3, 5-3) round out the top half of the ten-team league. Young Harris will visit North Georgia tonight as well, so by tomorrow the standings will look different at the halfway point of the eighteen-game conference schedule.

Tip off for the men’s game is scheduled for 7:30 P.M., following the 5:30 P.M. women’s game. The Lady Jaguars (12-6, 5-3) occupy the third spot in the standings, two games behind leader Georgia Southwestern, and one game ahead of three teams locked in a tie, a group that includes USC Aiken (10-8, 4-4).

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The Jags go back to the drawing board

During Tuesday morning’s taping of the weekly Dip Metress Show on YouTube, Augusta’s nineteen-year head coach described the team’s film session the evening after Saturday’s 89-75 loss to Flagler. Rather than dominating the session himself, Metress had the players point out their own mistakes and shortcomings during the team’s first loss at home since February of 2021. Metress gave his players credit for taking individual accountability during the session.

“Looking back on it, I probably should have done this after some of our wins because I wasn’t happy with how we were playing,” Metress said. “It’s a long season. Losing is never fun. So at least our players know it and we look forward to being able to build on it.

“Guys pointed to themselves, which is good. It’s good when they point it out themselves,” Metress continued. “They never once said, ‘Hey this guy didn’t do this.’ They watched themselves. I purposely kind of just paused it and said, ‘OK, what are we seeing?’ And obviously I had to interject some stuff.”

Flagler shot 58% from the field against Augusta Saturday. That was the third time in the last four games that Augusta’s opponent shot better than 50% against the Jaguars. Before that stretch only Virginia Union, the only other team that has been able to knock off Augusta this season, had shot better than 50% from the field against the Jaguars.

Metress made sure to be clear that the player-led film session was only one portion of the remediation for his team’s recent shortcomings on the defensive end.

“There are some other things that we haven’t addressed yet that I’ll identify tonight (Tuesday) in practice,” Metress said. “It’s a learning experience. You don’t win every game. You have to do something to cause the other team to play poorly. And we did not do that. And I would argue that we haven’t done that much this year, except by having experienced and good players. So hopefully we’ll get that focus.”

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Aiken coming off an important win

USC Aiken moved to within one game of the top spot in the standings with Saturday’s 73-69 road win over Young Harris. Tehree Horn scored 23 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, Tyler Johnson added 18 points, and Jalen McCoy chipped in 13. The Pacers shot 63% from the field in the first half and made 6 of their 9 three point attempts before cooling off in the second half.

Horn, a 6’3” junior, leads the team in scoring (15.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg). Johnson, a 6’2” sophomore, is second on the team in scoring (12.9 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg). McCoy, a 6’5” sophomore, scores 10.8 points and grabs 4.3 rebounds per game. And Karon Boyd, a 6’5” freshman, is averaging 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Follow Chad Cook’s coverage of local sports on Facebook and Instagram at @AugustaPressSports, and on Twitter at @AugPressSports. 

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