With Paine College in a rebuilding season, Joshua Adams and Julian English have placed the scoring responsibility on themselves.
"All our scorers left," Adams said. "Right now, we've got to carry the load."
Through five games, Adams and English are enjoying breakout seasons, leading an up-tempo Paine offense.
The guards will need to continue their hot streak if the Lions (2-3) are going to knock off No. 14 Augusta State (4-2) when the teams face off at 7:30 tonight at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
"In order for us to be in the game, we're going to have to shoot the ball well," Paine coach Ron Spry said. "We're going to have to play a perfect game in order to win."
Paine is having to regroup this season after losing five key players to graduation. With 10 underclassmen on the 13-man roster, Adams and English have stepped to the forefront.
English is averaging a team-high 22 points per game on 47 percent shooting (50 percent from 3-point range). Adams is just behind with a 19.4 scoring average on 60 percent shooting. The pair rank among the top five scorers in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
"Now that they're not having to play in the shadow of some outstanding players I've had the past two years, they're getting an opportunity to show their athletic ability and their skill," Spry said. "More depends on them now. They understand that."
Either Adams or English has led Paine in scoring in all five games this season. The Lions are averaging 80 points a game, 12 more than last season.
In back-to-back games, Adams and English posted career highs -- that includes high school. Against Kentucky State, Adams shot 11-for-18 from the field -- with no 3-pointers -- for 33 points. Two days later, English came off the bench to drop six 3-pointers for 37 against Lane.
"It's very unusual to have two different players score 30 points in the same week," Augusta State coach Dip Metress said. "Those are two guys we're definitely going to have to contain."
Adams, a 6-foot junior, is the slasher. He gets most of his points off drives to the basket with his left-handed layup. Motoring inside the paint doesn't faze him -- he practiced against bigger players while at Josey.
"I love contact," he said. "That's not a problem with me."
English, of Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, prefers to pitch a tent on the perimeter. He said he's been a lifelong 3-point shooter. Driving down the lane is not his thing.
"He's fragile," Adams said with a laugh.
Adams and English, also a 6-footer, are the lone Paine players averaging more than 30 minutes a game. With that amount of floor time, their chemistry is good enough to understand who's shooting well.
"We just give the ball to the hot man," Adams said.
Having two prolific scorers is a good dilemma to have, Spry said.
"Hopefully," he said, "they both won't be off at the same time."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or email@example.com.
WHO: Paine at Augusta State
WHEN: Women tip off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men at 7:30
WHERE: Christenberry Fieldhouse
RIVALRY NOTES: Augusta State's men, which enter tonight with a 4-2 record, have won the past three meetings against Paine (2-3). ... The Lady Jaguars (3-2) have not lost to the Lady Lions (1-3) since Jan. 4, 2003.