Chris Collins, sophomore forward, jumps up to take a shot against the Calvary Bible College defense Nov. 22 in Stewart Field House. The Builders won the game 62-20 and closed out their non-conference schedule with a 7-1 record. Southwestern is currently the top-ranked team in the Kansas Collegiate Athletice Conference. Clinton Dick/Collegian photographer

By Kyle Killgore
Staff reporter

Conference begins tomorrow for men’s basketball. They finished their non-conference schedule with a 7-1 record and tied for 30th in the coach’s pre-season poll on Nov. 29. The Builders face Sterling (2-5) on the road Dec. 2.

Southwestern was predicted to finish third in the conference in the coaches poll prior to the season while the Warriors were predicted to finish second.

“You really don’t know how good you are until about the middle of the conference season,” said Matt O’Brien, head men’s basketball coach.

The Builders lead the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference in most statistical categories including scoring offense per game, scoring defense per game, scoring margin, field goal shooting percentage, offensive rebounds per game, defensive rebounds per game and total rebound margin.

Ethan Randolph, junior forward, and Chris Nelson, junior forward, are averaging more than 15 points per game. Nelson leads both the conference and the team in rebounding, averaging 7.71 per game.

Rebounds have been a major part of Builders’ success this season. The Builders have out-rebounded every team that they have played, by an average of 17 rebounds per game.

The Builders played an exhibition game against NCAA Division II, Emporia State University on Nov. 22, losing 61-72. The game against Sterling will be the first game that Southwestern has played in over a week.

“The Emporia game was good for us, having to deal with adversity and sticking together as a team,” said O’Brien. “The break was good for us allowing us to get some rest and we are looking forward to Thursday.”

Southwestern has been burdened with injuries this year. David King, senior center, will make his first start of the season against Sterling. King missed all of last season due to an ACL injury, after being an All-American the year before.

Brayden Crowe, junior guard, has been injured since the opening game of the season. Jared Irvin, junior guard, will sit out after spraining his ankle in practice.

“We are going to have to try and get everyone comfortable,” said O’Brien. “This will be the first time we have everyone playing together.”

The Builders face off at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 against Kansas Wesleyan in Salina.

Kyle Killgore is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at kyle.killgore@sckans.edu.