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Picked as the co-favorite to capture the NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas regular-season title, the Barton College men’s basketball team will open its 2018-19 campaign Friday night in the annual 45-Second Classic inside Wilson Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs, 23-9 a season ago, will face off with Georgia Southwestern on Friday night at 7 p.m. before concluding the event Saturday against Augusta University at 1. Barton took the court in preseason action last week, losing 89-80 at Clemson in a game where the Bulldogs held a double-digit lead in the second half. The University of Mount Olive, Barton’s Conference Carolinas archrival, will return to the Classic, facing Augusta on Friday and Georgia Southwestern on Saturday morning at 11.
With five seniors on its roster, the Bulldogs bring back junior guard Michael Boykin, the Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year in 2016-17. Boykin posted 12.4 points per game as a sophomore. Senior Bobby Stenborg returns, having led the Bulldogs in both points per game at 16.7 points per game and 5.9 rebounds.
Another senior, Isaiah Buck-Lowman, will be lost for several weeks after sustaining a knee injury during preseason practice. Buck-Lowman averaged 13.5 points per contest as a junior.
Georgia Southwestern of the Peach Belt Conference, which posted a 13-14 record last season, returns four starters off last year’s team. R.J. Sessions leads the Hurricanes with 15.3 points per contest.
Augusta, led by 15th-year head coach Dip Metress, enters the Classic owning an 77-72 exhibition win over Southeastern Conference member South Carolina. The Jaguars were 16-13 last season. Deane Williams leads the core of Augusta returnees as an all-Peach Belt Conference selection, bucketing 13.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Barton went winless in the 45-Second Classic last year, dropping an 84-75 decision to Young Harris College and an 80-72 setback to Augusta.