Two Liberty County alums are having sterling seasons for programs heading in opposite directions.
In Miami, former Panther Rion Brown is starting to come out of a brief slump for the surging Hurricanes. In their first conference game against Georgia Tech on Jan. 5, Brown knocked down four 3-pointers en route to a career-high 22 points. The Hurricanes, ranked No. 25 in the most recent Associated Press poll, are on a five-game winning streak and are atop the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 4-0 league record.
Brown told reporters at the Sun-Sentinel that playing at the same stadium where his father once wore a Yellow Jackets jersey inspired him to break out of a brief slump. Before the Georgia Tech game he missed 14 straight trey-shot attempts in the span of six games.
“That actually inspired him,” UM basketball coach Jim Larranaga said. “When he went by to shoot, he saw that his father was an All-American there. He saw his jersey was retired. His photo was up on display, and you get excited about that.”
Brown has played in 16 games with five starts, averaging 23.8 minutes per game. As of Tuesday, he had 99 total points, 29 rebounds and 15 assists.
Miami hosts top-ranked Duke at 7 tonight. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Meanwhile, Brown’s former teammate, Jordan McRae, has had four consecutive games of 21 or more points. However, the Volunteers needed a win over Mississippi State on Saturday to avoid their worst conference start. Before that win, the Vols were 0-3 in the SEC and had lost four in a row overall.
According to the university’s website, McRae scored 26 points in the loss against Ole Miss on Jan. 9, 21 points in the Vols’ loss to Alabama on Jan. 12 and 23 points against Kentucky on Jan. 15.
McRae also scored 26 points in the Volunteers’ non-conference game against Memphis on Jan. 4, making him the first Tennessee player to score 20-plus points in four straight games since Chris Lofton in 2008, according to Tennessean.com.
According to espn.com, McRae is ranked 12th in the SEC in points per game, averaging 13.8. To date McRae has played 472 minutes with 221 points, 49 rebounds, 31 assists, 11 blocks and nine steals. Last season, McRae scored 293 points.
On Thursday, the Vols play No. 23 Ole Miss at 7 p.m. in Oxford, Miss. The game will be televised on ESPN2.