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No. 23 Charleston brings ranked party home vs. Delaware

Nov 11, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;  Charleston Cougars head coach Pat Kelsey reacts during the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 College of Charleston has earned its moment in the spotlight in recent weeks and now will have a home-court setting when Delaware visits for Saturday’s Colonial Athletic Association game.

Just don’t expect things to become easier for coach Pat Kelsey’s team.

“We’re aware we’re going to get everyone’s best shot,” Kelsey said. “But we do have a very mature team.”

Charleston (15-1, 3-0 CAA) played as a ranked team for the first time in two decades and showed why it has earned the accolade with a 92-79 victory Wednesday at North Carolina A&T.

“There were stretches in the game where we looked like a special team,” Kelsey said.

After two consecutive road games, the Cougars will bring a national ranking to a party at home. On Thursday, the school announced that the game vs. Delaware is sold out.

It is expected to shape up as a special scene for Charleston, which holds a 14-game winning streak – the longest active streak in the country.

Charleston guard Dalton Bolon, a second-year graduate transfer, recorded his first double-double with the Cougars by racking up 22 points and 10 rebounds at North Carolina A&T.

Despite all the team success, Charleston’s production has been mostly spread out among several players. The Cougars have had a CAA Player of the Week just once this season, and that came in Week 2 when guard Ryan Larson shared that distinction.

At N.C. A&T, Larson posted eight points while five of his teammates provided double-figure scoring totals. In addition to Bolon’s output, Ante Brzovic and Pat Robinson III each had 12 points.

Delaware (9-6, 1-1), last season’s CAA Tournament champion, will be on the road for the first time in conference play. The Blue Hens haven’t played since Saturday’s 57-52 victory against Elon.

For Delaware, it has been a season of ups – such as defeating Davidson and Colgate – and downs.

“We have to continue to grow as a basketball team,” coach Martin Ingelsby said.

Delaware relies heavily on a core of players, led by Jameer Nelson Jr. and his 19.7 points per game. Jyare Davis is averaging 16.6 points per game.

The issue for the Blue Hens might be their lack of depth. Four players are averaging more than 31.7 minutes per game.

“We’ve got to get more out of our bench,” Ingelsby said.

Charleston’s plan could be to run the Blue Hens ragged. The Cougars put their depth on display this week when reserves accounted for 40 points at N.C. A&T.

Delaware is averaging 70.7 points per game, which is also the same average number of points it allows in each outing. The Blue Hens have a minus-2.1 rebounding margin per game.

Delaware is 2-3 in road games, with the victories coming by a combined eight points at Princeton and Rider across a four-day stretch in mid-December. Other than those two games, this will be Delaware’s first game away from home since November.

Charleston and Delaware split regular-season games last season, each winning on the road.

–Field Level Media