The third-seeded Francis Marion University men's basketball team will face second-seeded and 24th-ranked UNC Pembroke on Saturday (March 3) at 5:30 p.m. in the semifinals of the 2018 Peach Belt Conference Tournament.
The semifinals are being played at the Clayton State University Athletics & Fitness Center (The Loch) in Morrow, Ga. Top-seeded and 25th-ranked Clayton State (22-5) will face fifth-seeded USC Aiken (16-11) in Saturday's first semifinal at 3:30 p.m. The championship game is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. Live stats and video can be followed through the tournament website at http://www.peachbeltconference.org/Tournaments/basketball/2017-18m/18mtournament
Daily admission is $10 for general admission; $5 for military, senior citizens, and children; with students from PBC member schools admitted free with their school ID. A tournament pass for all three games is available for $15.
Francis Marion owns a 20-8 record, its first 20-win season in 14 years, and has won 10 of its last 12 contests. The Braves are 24-5.
The two squads split their two regular-season meetings with each team winning on its home floor, something that has occurred each of the past three seasons. This year, Francis Marion never trailed en route to a 90-83 win in Florence on Jan. 24, while UNCP turned the tables and never trailed in a 66-60 victory in Pembroke on Feb. 21. The Braves lead the all-time series 43-34, with the series dating back to the Patriots' inaugural season of 1970-71. The two have met only once in post-season play, an 83-78 overtime win for UNCP in the first round of the 2006 PBC Tournament in Greenwood, S.C.
PBC Player of the Year Detrek Browning leads FMU with his 25.0 points per game average, while All-Conference forward Brandon Parker averages 13.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Browning needs only 16 points to set a new PBC career scoring record. Reserve guard Ryan Davis adds 10.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and a team-best 3.1 assists per contest, while senior 6-7 center Judah Alexander added 8.6 ppg and a team-high 6.4 rpg.
UNC Pembroke features three All-PBC selections: Nigel Grant, Akia Pruitt and Brandon Watts. Grant leads the club with 16.0 ppg, while Pruitt averages 12.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.8 blocks per game and Watts adds 12.7 ppg and 5.8 rpg.