Keydets Begin Final Homestand Thursday vs. Mercer
Courtesy: SportsPhotoGuy.com for VMI

VMI closes out the regular season with a two-game Southern Conference homestand beginning with Thursday’s matchup with Mercer at Cameron Hall. The Keydets, fresh off a season sweep of Western Carolina following last Saturday’s 83-78 win in Cullowhee, will be looking to square the season series against Mercer after dropping the first game against the Bears in Macon in January. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3.

 

Last Time Out: VMI 83, Western Carolina 78 - Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019

Sophomore guard Bubba Parham scored a career-high 38 points to help lead VMI past Western Carolina, 83-78, Saturday night in Southern Conference basketball action at the Ramsey Center. Parham hit 13 of 26 shots from the floor including four 3-point shots on the night and in the process became the 41st player in VMI basketball history to hit the career 1,000 point threshold. The Snellville, Ga. native now has 1,016 points in his Keydet career. Sophomore guard/forward Myles Lewis produced his first career-double double with 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds and junior Garrett Gilkeson added 15 points as the Keydets swept the season series from the Catamounts.  It was the first win for the Keydets this season after trailing at the half as VMI shot 52% from the floor after intermission. WCU led 43-39 at the break following an opening half that saw nine lead changes between the conference rivals. VMI held as much as a nine-point advantage.

 

Last Meeting with the Bears: Mercer 88, VMI 68 (Jan. 24, 2019)

Junior guard Ross Cummings hit six 3-pointers and scored 24 points to lead Mercer past VMI, 88-68, in Southern Conference action at Hawkins Arena in Macon, Georgia.  The Bears, winners of two straight, used a strong first half to build a lead that the Keydets found difficult to overcome after halftime. VMI was led by junior guard Garrett Gilkeson who scored 15 points and added nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Bubba Parham added 17 points, but labored through a 2-for-11 shooting night from beyond the arc. Mercer shot 56.1% from the floor and was 10-of-19 from 3-point range while dishing out 19 assists led by sophomore guard Marcus Cohen who had seven dishes. The Keydets, hampered by turnovers in the first half, dug themselves a hole that proved insurmountable as Mercer built a 52-31 intermission lead. The Keydets committed nine turnovers in the opening stanza which led to 19 Bears points. VMI  fought back after halftime trimming the deficit to 14 points (54-40) on a Jake Stephens 3-pointer at the 17:47 mark, but could come no closer despite nine second half points by forward Sarju Patel who started the second half. The Keydets outrebounded the Bears, 34-32, but were outscored in the paint by a 40-26 count. Mercer also received double-digit scoring efforts from redshirt junior guard Ethan Stair (18 points, 7 rebounds) and guard Jaylen Stowe with 17 points.

 

A win over Mercer would ...

-- Split the season series between the teams 

-- Pull VMI to 7-7 at home in 2018-19

Series History – VMI vs. Mercer

This will be the 13th meeting between the teams that first met in 2006. Mercer leads the series, 10-2, and has taken the last five meetings including wins 62-56 (Lexington, Va.) and 82-58 (Macon, Ga.) last year and 88-68 in Macon on January 24. VMI last defeated the Bears, 91-82 on February 25, 2016 in Lexington.

 

Bubba Bounces Back

Sophomore guard Bubba Parham is on top of the SoCon scoring list (20.6) after a career-high 38 points at Westen Carolina Saturday. The game followed a career-low two points vs. ETSU Feb. 21 and made Parham the 41st player in VMI history to score 1,000 career points. One week earlier at Wofford, Parham had a 30-point night at Wofford February 14 for his sixth 30+ outing this year. Earlier in the season, Parham entered December with four straight 30+ point games, and became the first SoCon player to tally 30 or more points in four straight contests since Steph Curry of Davidson in 2008-09. Not just a scorer, Parham also garnered a career-high nine rebounds with a 30-point outing in VMI’s win 87-79 OT win at Stetson November. 23 and tied his career-best in assists with seven against Samford Feb. 9. Parham started his blistering four-game November scoring stretch when he scored a career-high 35 points and knocked down a school record 10 3-pointers in the 92-82 loss at #10 ranked Kentucky Nov. 18. It was the first time Parham had surpassed the 30+ point plateau in a game in his career and he followed it up two nights later with 33 points against Kentucky Christian at Cameron Hall. Parham, the 2018 SoCon Freshman of the Year as selected by the media, has seven career 30+ games (all this season) and 21 games of 20+ points in his career including 14 this year.

 

Lewis Doubles Up

Sophomore guard/forward Miles Lewis continued his strong February surge and posted his first career-double-double in the Feb. 23 win at Western Carolina with 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. One game earlier, Lewis turned in a career scoring night against ETSU February 21 when he tallied a career high 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field against the Bucs and grabbed eight rebounds. Against  Wofford on February 14, Lewis scored a then career-high 22 points against the Terriers. Lewis also had a solid performance in the Jan. 19 85-82 loss at ETSU missing his first double-double by a single rebound. Lewis hit 7 of 14 shots from the floor and finished with 17 points and also tied and then career-high in rebounds with nine versus ETSU. Second on the team in scoring (10.8 PPG), Lewis has 18 double figures scoring games on the year and is averaging 16.5 points and 4.8 rebounds over his last four games.