USC Upstate Comes Back to Win at Stetson, 97-86

DeLand, Fla. – (USC Upstate SID) Mike Cunningham and Deion Holmes each scored 24 points to lead five Spartans in double-figures as the USC Upstate men’s basketball team won its third straight game following a 97-86 victory over the Stetson Hatters Saturday afternoon inside the Edmunds Center.

Upstate improves to 14-8 on the season and 4-1 in ASUN play, while Stetson falls to 8-13 overall and 1-4 in the conference.

Cunningham tied his career-high of 24 points while Holmes matched his season-best with 24. Michael Buchanan contributed 18 points off the bench, while Philip Whittington had 15 and Malik Moore 10. Josh Cuthbertson also set a new career-high with 10 rebounds.

Derick Newton led Stetson with a game-high 30 points and was joined by Divine Myles with 18.


  • The Hatters began the game on a 6-0 run and jumped out to a 13-3 advantage over the Spartans just over five minutes in when Luke Doyle connected on a 3-pointer.
  • Stetson took its largest lead of the game at the 11:01 mark when a layup by Myles extended its lead to 20-8.
  • Upstate was able to cut its deficit down to two points less than three minutes later courtesy of a 13-3 run with nine points coming behind the 3-point arc. Cunningham’s second triple of the run trimmed the lead to 23-21 with 8:35 remaining.
  • The Hatters managed to extend their lead back out to five points twice with the last coming with 7:03 left as Clay Verk made it a 30-25 game with his jumper.
  • Cunningham gave the Spartans their first lead of the game with 4:32 to go and Holmes extended it to a four-point advantage, 36-32, with his basket at the 4:01 mark.
  • With less than two minutes left in the first half, the lead changed hands three times over the course of 31 seconds before a 3-pointer from Leo Goodman with 1:20 remaining gave Stetson a 44-42 lead.
  • Doyle sent the Hatters into halftime leading by one, 47-46, after connecting on a 3-pointer with just six seconds left before intermission.
  • Upstate used a string of five consecutive points from Whittington less than four minutes into the second half to take a 57-52 lead with 16:42 remaining.
  • After Brian Pegg made it a 57-56 contest with his free throw, the Spartans would go on a 10-2 run capped by two 3-pointers from Holmes and took a 67-58 lead with 13 minutes left.
  • Stetson came back to go in front 71-69 four minutes later after Newton scored seven straight points and was part of a 10-0 run.
  • The score would be tied three times over the next four minutes until a dunk by Moore made the score 77-75 in favor of Upstate at the 5:30 mark.
  • After Newton put the Hatters back ahead 78-77 with a pair of free throws, Moore gave the Spartans the lead for good at 80-78 with 4:25 left after hitting a 3-pointer.
  • Upstate limited the Hatters to eight points over the final 4:24 with six of those coming at the free throw line from Myles. The Spartans also secured the victory at the charity stripe during that stretch.
  • Upstate finished the game going 12-for-13 at the free throw line and held its largest lead of the game at 97-84 with 29 seconds left after Holmes made the last of his four consecutive free throws.
  • A late layup by Angel Rivera with 20 seconds remaining put the final score at 97-86 in favor of the Spartans.



  • Holmes and Buchanan combined to go 20-for-23 at the charity stripe with both players setting new career-highs with 10 made free throws. Upstate finished the game 30-for-35 (85.7 percent) at the free throw line and is the first time since Feb. 2, 2014 at Mercer that it has made 30 free throws in a game.
  • Cunningham concluded the game going 7-of-12 from the field while Whittington added a 7-for-10 shooting performance.
  • Moore contributed seven rebounds and four assists, and Whittington also collected seven rebounds.
  • Cunningham equaled his career-best of five made 3-pointers after going 5-for-7 in the game.
  • Newton and Myles teamed up to shoot 11-for-11 at the charity stripe, and Newton was 11-of-17 overall from the field.
  • Myles led Stetson with a team-high nine rebounds.
  • The Spartans held a 36-28 advantage over the Hatters in rebounds, and finished the game shooting 51.8 percent (29-of-56). It marks the fifth time this season that Upstate has had a team field goal percentage of 50 percent or better.
  • The Spartans also led 34-26 in points in the paint and 42-20 in points from the bench.
  • The score was tied eight times in the contest with the lead changing hands a total of 15 times.



  • Upstate concludes its three-game road trip on Wednesday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. EST against Lipscomb.

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