Mountaineers enter conference tournament as 9th seed


Landon Williams

Sophomore guard Terence Harcum navigates the Texas State defense in App State’s 82-75 victory Feb. 16, 2023.

Sam Vanolinda, Reporter

After losing its final game against Georgia Southern, App State men’s basketball finished the regular season 16-15 and 9-9 in conference play.

This was good enough for ninth in the league standings. The Mountaineers will face eighth-seeded South Alabama in the second round of the Sun Belt Men’s Basketball Championship at the Pensacola Bay Center on Thursday. 

App State plays in the first game of the second round, which tips off at 12:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN+.

The first round will feature the 11-14th seeded Texas State, Coastal Carolina, Arkansas State and last year’s champions, Georgia State.

App State will be looking for revenge after suffering a 17-point, 57-74 defeat in their regular season matchup versus South Alabama Feb. 11 in Mobile, Alabama. 

The focus defensively will be looking to slow down standout Jaguar guard Isaiah Moore during their rematch. Moore finished the season fourth in the league in scoring, with 18.5 points per game. 

The Black and Gold will also look to shoot more efficiently this time around; they shot 37.7% from the field and 22.2% from three in the loss earlier this month. 

In the 2021 Sun Belt Tournament, which the Mountaineers won, Michael Almonacy averaged 21.8 points per game and scored 32 points in the final as he earned tournament MVP.

App State may need someone to step up this year like Almonacy did, especially with how spread out the scoring has been during the regular season. Senior forward Donovan Gregory led with 12.5 points per game, but two other players averaged over 10: graduate student guard Tyree Boykin and sophomore guard Terence Harcum.

If a player can get hot, the Mountaineers could be primed for a deep run. A win versus South Alabama would be followed with a quarterfinals match-up against top-seeded Southern Mississippi, who finished 14-4 in conference play and a perfect 15-0 at home this season.

In its regular season matchup, App State lost 70-76 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; a respectable loss in such a formidable place to play. Luckily for the Mountaineers, the tournament games will be hosted at a neutral site in Florida.

Some other top teams in the tournament include two seed Louisiana and three seed Marshall. Louisiana is led by former five-star recruit forward Jordan Brown, and Marshall has one of the best backcourts in college basketball with Taevion Kinsey and Andrew Taylor, who combined for 42.4 points per game this season.

The Southern Miss game would also be a 12:30 am tip-off on ESPN+. If the Mountaineers reach the final of the tournament, it would be March 6 at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.