VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta State men's basketball team will play its first home game of the season tonight.
The Blazers are the host team in the Park Avenue Bank Classic, played at The Complex. The Blazers (1-2) will first face off with Saint Leo University (4-3).
"It feels great," said VSU head coach Mike Helfer. "We are excited about playing at home and getting the fans behind us."
The Blazers have had a tough start to the season, but every game has been down to the wire. VSU lost its first game by two points in double overtime, won its second game on a last-second three-pointer, then lost by six in a shoot-out with Barton.
"I am a little disappointed on the start, but it is a work in progress," said Helfer on Thursday.
VSU is led by 6-foot-9 senior center Jon Rogers, from Hahira and Lowndes High. Rogers is leading the team in points per game (19.7), rebounds per game (9.7), and blocks per game (3.3). In the first two games of the season, Rogers earned a double-double in points and rebounds.
"(Rogers) has really stepped up and led us this season," said Helfer. "He has really matured into a very good college basketball player."
Second on the team in scoring is 6-foot-2 junior guard Mike Crain. Crain is averaging 19 points per game and has been shooting .448 from behind the arc. Crain has also led the team in points for the past two games, scoring 25 each game.
The match-up tonight looks to blow up the score board. Saint Leo is a team that "will live and die shooting the basketball from long range," as it says on the Lions' Web site, www.saintleo.edu.
"The greatest strength of our team is the ability to shoot the ball," Saint Leo coach Mike Madagan is quoted as saying on the Web site. "We have a lot of guys, both perimeter and post players, that shoot the ball with 3-point range."
Saint Leo will be led by senior guard Scott Seifert and freshman guard Michael Caulfield. Seifert has been leading the team in points per game (19.4), and rebounds per game (5.4). Caulfield is leading the team in assists per game (5.3) and second on the team in points (19.0).
"We are really going to be challenged defensively. We have to know where the shooters are on the floor at all times" said Helfer.
With the Lions averaging 83 points per game and the Blazers averaging 86 points per game, both teams will be looking to rack up the points tonight. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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