If Augusta State is going to add a second banner to the rafters this year, the Jaguars will have to do so at a place coach Dip Metress calls the "House of Horrors."
Augusta State won the Peach Belt Conference regular season title in February. But if the Jaguars are to claim a tournament championship, they'll have to win two games at USC Aiken's Convocation Center. Augusta State is 3-6 all-time in its rival's arena, including a loss in last year's Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinals to Montevallo.
"A lot of these guys have only played over there once," Metress said. "It'd be nice to play in the championship Sunday."
To make the final day of the tournament, No. 5 Augusta State first must win what's expected to be a defensive battle with Montevallo.
In the other semifinal, UNC Pembroke (17-10) faces West Division champion Georgia Southwestern (20-7) at 8.
In February, the Jaguars (26-3) defeated the Falcons (18-9) on the road two nights after their last loss at Georgia College and State. Augusta State shot 41 percent from the floor but converted 20 of 26 free-throw attempts for the 56-50 win.
The rematch pits the league's top two scoring defenses -- Augusta State (59.3) and Montevallo (62.7).
"It's not going to be a beautiful game," Metress said.
Franck Ndongo, who averages 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds, said Augusta State can win the tournament if it sticks to its routine: play stellar defense and rebound. But the Jaguars will have to improve at the foul line.
Augusta State, the nation's No. 2 free-throw shooting team (.788), is 45 of 68 (66 percent) in the past three games. Ndongo and his teammates have been shooting free throws before and after practice this week.
"That's a very big concern," he said. "We pride ourselves on free-throw shooting. We have to step up and make our free throws."
"It's like kicking a 25-yard field goal," Metress said. "You should be able to make it."
- On the women's side, No. 12 USC Aiken plays host to No. 1 Clayton State in a rematch at the convocation center. In the other semifinal matchup, No. 4 Lander (27-2) faces Georgia College (20-6).
The Lady Pacers (25-4) and Lady Lakers (29-0) met in January with Clayton State winning 66-60 thanks to 25 USC Aiken turnovers.
"They rely on turnovers and momentum," Lady Pacers coach Mike Brandt said. "The main key for us is if we can control the tempo and limit the turnovers.
"Our players are excited at the chance to play the No. 1 team in the country. We have no pressure on us, especially now that we're in the NCAAs."