January 8, 2019 / Trailblazer men take over No. 1 ranking
VINCENNES, Ind. - The first National Junior College Athletic Association Division I poll of the new calendar year was released Tuesday afternoon and the Vincennes University men’s basketball team made the climb to the No. 1 spot.
The Trailblazers received 400 points and all 16 first-place votes as they sit atop the poll for the first time since the final regular-season poll of the 2014-15 campaign.
“It’s exciting and I think our kids deserve this,” VU coach Todd Franklin said of the ranking. “Does it mean we are better than anyone else in the country? I don’t know, but I think with our body of work, our kids have earned this. It’s good for the kids and it’s also good for the school and the city.”
VU (15-0) started the season ranked No. 6 in the preseason poll after a 34-3 record and a fourth-place finish in the national tournament a season ago.
In the first regular-season poll on Dec. 4, the ‘Blazers moved up to the No. 3 spot before finishing the first semester ranked No. 2 during the last two polls.
Last year’s national champion South Plains held the top spot during the final two polls before the break.
Plains (14-1) dropped an 88-86 decision in overtime to unranked Scottsdale on Dec. 31 and slipped to No. 2 in this week’s poll.
John A. Logan -- a District 16 foe of the Trailblazers moved up three spots to No. 5. The Vols are 13-1 with their only loss coming to the hands of VU at home.
Rounding out the top five are: No. 3 Florida Southwestern State (16-1) and No. 4 Ranger (13-1).
The entire poll can be found here.
The Trailblazers (15-0) played in three games since the last poll on Dec. 18. VU picked up wins over Lincoln Trail (Dec. 17), Elizabethtown and Indiana Elite Prep -- all by at least 20 points.
The Trailblazers are paced by a trio of sophomores in Keith Clemons, George Dixon and Lony Francis, Jr.
Francis -- a preseason All-American -- leads the team with 16.5 points per game to go along with 6.9 rebounds a game. Clemons averages 16.1 points and 4.0 assists, while Dixon averages 12.9 points and a team-best 9.6 boards per game.
Freshman Craig Porter has emerged as another threat in many areas for VU. The guard adds 6.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.2 blocks (team best), and 1.0 steals per game.
The Trailblazers lead the NJCAA DI in defensive shooting percentage (34.8 %) and are second in scoring defense at 57 points a game.
VU plays host to District 16 foe Olney Central (13-1) on Wednesday night. The Knights received four points in this week’s poll and are the last team to defeat the ‘Blazers in the regular season. OCC knocked off VU on their home floor, 91-75 on Feb. 10, 2018.
“They are a dangerous team,” Franklin said. “The way they play is very dangerous because they can get hot with their style of play.”
Tipoff Wednesday is scheduled for 7 p.m. following the Lady Trailblazers game with OCC.
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