VALDOSTA –– Riding a Gulf South Conference-best 11-game winning streak, the No. 13 Valdosta State men's basketball team returns to the road this week as it travels to Mississippi College and Delta State for a pair of key conference matchups.
The Blazers and Choctaws are scheduled to tip at 8:30 p.m. ET tonight while VSU will battle Delta State Saturday at 3 p.m. Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming, ticket information and more at vstateblazers.com on the men's basketball schedule page. The games also will be broadcast on 92.1 WDDQ FM with Spencer Van Horn having the call.
VSU moved up five spots in the latest National Association of College Basketball Coaches (NCBWA) Top 25 to 13th this week. The Blazers have not lost since an 88-74 setback on Dec. 19, 2019, in Valdosta. The 11-game winning streak is the eighth-longest current streak in NCAA Division II. Lincoln Memorial leads the way with 23-straight wins after a season-opening loss to West Texas A&M, who is tied for the third-longest streak currently at 14 victories.
In the NABC poll, the Blazers are the highest ranked team in the Gulf South Conference as Lee is 22nd and Alabama Huntsville is receiving votes. In the region, Nova Southeastern is fifth, followed by Florida Southern at sixth. In the D2SIDA Top 25, VSU is 12th this week as the only GSC team ranked or receiving votes in the poll. The Blazers are third in the D2SIDA South Region rankings, as Florida Southern is first followed by Nova Southeastern. Lee is fourth, while West Alabama is sixth, followed by a tie for seventh between Alabama Huntsville and Sunshine State Conference member Barry. Union is tenth. On Feb. 19, the first NCAA Region Rankings are scheduled to be announced, leading up to the NCAA Division II Selection Show, slated for Sunday, Mar. 8.
The Blazers are under the direction of head coach Mike Helfer as he was named the Hoopdirt.com Coach of the Week for NCAA Division II. Helfer is in is 15th season at VSU and is 295-140 (.678) in Titletown, while he is 481-223 overall in 23 years of coaching. Helfer has guided the Blazers to three-straight Gulf South Conference regular season titles and has won 20 or more games seven times, including each of the last three seasons.
VSU is 18-3 overall this season and 12-2 in Gulf South Conference play. The Blazers sit in second place in the league standings with six games remaining in the regular season. Lee, who is the only team to have clinched a berth in the GSC Championship so far, leads the league with a 13-2 record. West Alabama, Alabama Huntsville and Union sit at 10-5, just behind the Blazers. West Florida is 9-7 and Montevallo is seventh at 7-7 for teams .500 or better.
Blazer senior Clay Guillozet earned his second GSC Player of the Week honor this season. The Greenville, Ohio, native, had another outstanding week for the red and black as he helped lead the Blazers to two victories in high-scoring fashion. VSU downed Shorter 118-83 and West Georgia 105-83, running its winning streak to a league-best 11 games.
For the two games, Guillozet averaged 23.5 points to lead the team, while shooting a blistering .643 from the field on 18 of 28. He was a staggering 10 of 13 from beyond the arc and averaged 9.0 rebounds to lead the team. Guillozet added 11 assists with just two turnovers, while recording one block and five steals.
He helped VSU average a season-high 111.5 points per game for the week as the team shot .589 from the field and .447 from beyond the arc. VSU averaged 45.5 rebounds per game for the week, while turning the ball over just 18 times, while tallying 12 blocks, 17 steals and put together 43 assists.
Guillozet scored 20 points or more in back-to-back games last week for the first time this season and the 27 points against West Georgia tied his season-high this year. He has scored 20 or more points in six games this season. Guillozet drained a season-high seven treys against the Wolves and went 10 of 15 from the field, marking the third time this season of double figure made field goals in a game.
During the 11-game winning streak, the Blazers have shot .492 from the field and averaged a blistering 93.9 points per game, while outscoring the opposition by 19.4 points per game. The Blazers have drained 89 triples for a .392 clip, while averaging 42.6 rebounds per game. Junior Burke Putnam has led the team in scoring during the run at 15.2 points per game on 61 of 107 from the field for a team-high .570 field goal percentage. He has 13 triples for fourth on the team during the run, while going 32 of 43 from the line to lead the team. He has 53 assists (5.3/game) to lead the team, while recording 14 steals for second on the team.
In all, six different Blazers are averaging double figures during the run and all six have played in each of the 11 games. Guillozet is averaging 13.6 points per game and a team-high 9.2 rebounds per game during the run. In addition, the Blazers have protected the ball well during the run as they hold 5.8 turnover margin and are turning the ball over 11 times per game, while forcing 16.8 miscues per game.
For the season, the Blazers are averaging 90.7 points per game for 11th nationally and first in the GSC. VSU is 12th nationally in scoring margin (8.2), while it is 33rd in assists per game at 16.4. The Blazers are 12th in defensive rebounds for first in the league at 29.1, while they lead the league in offensive rebounds at 12.81 per game for 32nd nationally. The Blazers are 15th nationally and first in the league in fewest turnovers (245), are 15th in turnover margin at 4.0 and 32nd in turnovers per game at 11.7 to lead the league. VSU is second in the league in field goal percentage at .478 for 60th nationally and are 29th in field goal percentage defense at .417. The Blazers are averaging 41.9 rebounds per game for 12th nationally and first in the league.
Individually, Guillozet is 29th nationally and first in the league in offensive rebounds per game at 3.2, while he is third in the league in total rebounds at 8.7 per game. His 130 made field goals to lead the team has him second in the conference, while his .524 fielding goal percentage is good for fourth in the league. Putnam is fourth in the league in assist/turnover ratio at 2.1, while senior Darrell Jones is fifth in the league in field goal percentage (.521) and fourth in rebounding at 8.0 per game.
Mississippi College enters with an 8-13 record overall and a 4-11 mark in the GSC. The Choctaws have won just two of their last nine games, including the 99-81 loss to VSU in Valdosta on Jan. 9. The Choctaws did upset Alabama Huntsville in Clinton, Miss., Feb. 1, 75-68, before dropping a 93-59 decision at Auburn Montgomery last Saturday.
The Choctaws are led by Winceton Edwards, who leads the team averaging 14.0 points per game. He is 91 of 237 from the field, while going 36 of 118 from range to lead the team. Winford Ross is second in scoring at 11.3 points per game and is second in rebounding at 7.2 per game. Ross is 80 of 176 from the field (.455) and 75 of 116 from the line. Zach Jones (8.3 ppg) leads the team in rebounding at 7.6 per game.
The team is shooting .398 from the field on 478 of 1201, while going 114 of 359 (.318) from beyond the arc and 321 of 458 (.701) from the line. MC is averaging 66.2 points per game and 38.0 rebounds per game, while allowing 72.9 points per contest and 38.3 rebounds per game.
VSU leads the all-time series with Mississippi College 20-17, including the win earlier this season. VSU has won the last seven games in the series, including the previous three in Clinton. MC leads the all-time series in Clinton, 11-6. VSU has gone 7-3 in the last ten since MC rejoined the GSC.
Delta State will host West Florida on Thursday before entertaining the Blazers on Saturday. The Statesmen have struggled this season to the tune of an 8-15 record overall and a 4-11 mark in the GSC. The Statesmen have gone 1-9 in the last ten games with the lone win being a 97-88, double-overtime win over Auburn Montgomery on Feb. 1.
For the Statesmen, Keyshaun Street leads the team averaging 14.9 points per game on 116 of 276 (.420) from the field. He is a team-best 47 of 137 from beyond the arc (.343) and is 82 second in made free throws at 63 of 82 (.768) from the stripe. Airen Brooks is averaging a double-double with 14.8 points and a team-high 10.3 rebounds per game. Brooks is 116 of 261 from the field (.444) and 39 of 109 from range. McCoy Anderson is averaging 11.6 points per game.
As a team, the Statesmen are shooting .438 from the field (589 of 1345), while they are 197 of 604 from range (.326) and 249 of 372 from the line (.669). DSU is averaging 34.1 rebounds per game and 70.6 points per contest, while allowing 39.1 rebounds per game and 77.2 points per game.
VSU leads the all-time series 25-24 with the 103-80 win earlier this season. VSU has not won in Cleveland, Miss., since a 74-71 decision on Dec. 18, 2014, losing its last three meetings there.
Following the two games, VSU returns home for the final two regular season home games, Feb. 20 and Feb. 22, versus Montevallo and West Alabama, respectively. Mark Feb. 22 on your calendar as it will be Senior Day at VSU.