The first 8-0 start in the 106-year history of men’s basketball at Furman has resulted in the first national ranking for the program. The Paladins are No. 25 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Furman had received votes in each of the prior two weeks after stunning No. 8 and defending national champion Villanova 76-68 on Nov. 17 and edging Loyola Chicago, also a 2018 Final Four participant, 60-58 on Nov. 9 compliments of a last-second dunk by Clay Mounce ’21.
In between those games, Jordan Lyons ’20 tied the NCAA Division I record by hitting 15 3-pointers and scoring 54 points in 107-67 win over North Greenville. It was the highest single-game scoring total by a Furman player since Darrell Floyd ’56 poured 62 on The Citadel in 1956 and contributed to nine days in which the men’s basketball program received more national media attention than perhaps at any other time.
Furman, one of 11 remaining unbeaten NCAA Division I teams, also becomes the first Southern Conference school to be ranked since former member Davidson was 22nd on Dec. 15, 2008.
The Paladins, victorious in 15 of their last 16 contests dating back to last season, have shown a knack for winning close games with three overtime victories already in 2018-19 that have featured a total of 45 lead changes, according to NCAA.com. Furman fought off Western Carolina 90-88 in double overtime on Saturday at Timmons Arena.
Lyons leads the team in scoring by averaging 21.1 points per game, while Matt Rafferty ’19 averages 18.8 points to go with a team-best 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
Furman travels to 3-5 Elon on Tuesday, Dec. 4, followed by a trip to Spartanburg to take on USC-Upstate on Saturday, Dec. 8. The Paladins’ next home game is Tuesday, Dec. 11, against Charleston Southern.
Prepared by by Ron Wagner ’93, Furman University Senior Writer.