VALDOSTA, GA – Valdosta State opens play in the 2014 Raymond James Gulf South Conference Tournament Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when the Blazers face off against West Alabama.
Valdosta State enters the event as the No. 7 seed while the Tigers are the No. 2 seed. VSU tallied a 15-11 record on the season, including a 9-11 mark in GSC play. This year’s tournament marks the 20th time that VSU has played in the GSC Tournament, where it has compiled a 14-19 record over the years.
The Blazers and UWA split a pair of games this year, with each team winning on its home court. VSU struck first as it defeated West Alabama 93-83 in The Complex on January 4 while the Tigers rebounded for a 72-68 win in Livingston, Ala. on February 6.
Blazer Head Coach Mike Helfer has led Valdosta State to the GSC Tournament in each of his nine seasons, having compiled an 8-8 record over the course of the previous eight years. Helfer has directed the Blazers to a pair of tournament championship games, including last year when the club entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed. VSU defeated No. 5 Delta State in the first round and No. 1 Alabama-Huntsville in the semifinals before falling 65-62 to No. 2 Christian Brothers in the title game.
Only three players on the Valdosta State roster have previously played in the GSC Tournament. David Murray appeared in all three games last year and was named to the All-Tournament team as he scored 25 points and had 10 rebounds in the first two games of the event. Murray scored four points in the first six minutes of the championship game before going down to an injury that kept him out of the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, Colin Cook saw limited time in all three games a year ago while Dylan Nsiah played sparingly in the championship game versus CBU.
This season, Valdosta State enters the tournament averaging 77.0 points per game while shooting 42.4 percent from the floor. The Blazers take care of the ball, a must in tournament play, as they commit just 11.3 turnovers per game, and lead the Gulf South Conference in blocked shots with 3.7 per outing.