In the midst of their Big South streak, VMI held four straight conference opponents to 74 points or less, winning each of those contests. In fact, since surrendering 99 points in a loss to Coastal Carolina on Feb. 5, the Keydets have allowed just 71.2 points per game, 11 points under their season average. For the year, VMI is 12-1 when holding its opponents under 80 points.
That defensive resurgence has been keyed by freshman center D.J. Covington, the 2010-11 Big South Freshman of the Year. Last week, Covington extended his double figures scoring streak to six games and averaged 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in VMI’s two road wins last week. VMI is 6-2 in conference games Covington has started, and the freshman’s 2.4 blocks per game leads the Big South and ties VMI’s school record. He is just the seventh freshman, true or redshirt, in Big South history to block 50 shots, and concluded the regular season by winning the last three BSC Freshman of the Week awards. Covington is VMI’s first Big South Freshman of the Year, and first overall since 2001-02 (Jason Conley, Southern Conference).
Saturday’s win over Winthrop allowed the Keydets to finish the regular season at 17-12, the second-most wins the squad has posted since 1995-96, when VMI won 18 games, and also the second-most wins the team has had since joining the Big South (24 in 2008-09).
VMI and Winthrop have history in the Big South Championship, as the Keydets’ 2006-07 run ended in Rock Hill with a 84-81 loss to the Eagles in the conference title game. That is the only time the teams have matched up in postseason play.
Last Meeting with Winthrop (2/26/11):
Rodney Glasgow gave VMI the lead on a jumper with 1:19 to go, and Austin Kenon drained an outside shot with 27 seconds remaining to seal the victory as the VMI Keydets defeated the Winthrop Eagles 89-85 Saturday night in Rock Hill, S.C. to close out the regular season for both teams.
A VMI win against Winthrop would:
Send VMI to the conference semifinals for the second time in three years. The Keydets would play the winner of #1 Coastal Carolina vs. #8 Gardner-Webb Thursday night at 8 p.m. in Conway, S.C.