Ask any University of Tampa basketball fan about the team, and they will talk about the versatility of Chris Evans, the hard-nosed play of Jeremy Black or maybe the athleticism that Johnathan Ball brings to the team.
Rarely will the name Chris King come up in the conversation, but that looks like it is about to change.
King, the SSC Player of the Week, started in just eight games last season and averaged just four points per game.
In seven games with the Spartans this season King is averaging 14.4 points per game and has looked like a completely different player.
On Saturday, it was King who led the Spartans (6-1, 1-0 SSC) to an 80-71 victory over Sunshine State Conference powerhouse and fifth-ranked Rollins College (4-2, 0-1 SSC). After a highly competitive first half, the second half was anything but.
UT went into halftime with a 28-26 lead and started the second half on a 9-2 run. The Spartans led by as many as 20 in the game and cruised to a nine-point victory.
King had a double-double, recording a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds.
He put up big numbers despite taking just 12 shots from the field as he went 4-of-7 from 3-point range and 8-of-12 overall. King took advantage of a Rollins zone defense that gave him many open looks from 3-point range.
Although King had the hot hand for much of the game, he said he wasn’t surprised that Rollins didn’t switch to a man-to-man defense or go to a box-and-one defense to defend him.
“It takes a lot to get them out of their zone defense,” said King. “It’s what they are known for, and they have had a lot of success with it. I wasn’t surprised that they stuck with it.”
The Spartans shot 36 percent from the field in the first half, compared to 64 percent in the second half. King thought that Tampa’s ability to hit open shots in the second half played a big role in the outcome of the game.
“Coach set up a lot of good plays, and we just executed and made shots in the second half. I have been hitting my shots in practice, and I think it carried over to the game,” said King.
As for the rest of the season, King is confident that the Spartans will be able to continue their early season success.
“I think this victory shows that we mean business as a team. We have had slow starts in the past, and we let down a little last year after we got off to a good start. But I think things will be different this year,” said King.
The Spartans look to extend their winning streak to five games as they head to Pensacola on Saturday, Dec. 9 to take on the University of West Florida.
This is the last edition of The Minaret for this semester, but for those of you staying on campus for winter break or staying around the Tampa area, the men’s basketball team will be competing over the break.
The team will play six home games during the break. You can check out the UT website for dates and times.