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On Jordan Lyons' shoulders, Furman basketball is reaching new heights

Greenville News logo Greenville News 2/11/2020 Myron Hosea, Special to The Greenville News
a group of people standing in front of a crowd: While outside shooting always has been a big part of his game, Jordan Lyons (23) has developed into a team leader for Furman, which has won 91 games during his time in the program. © JOSH MORGAN/Staff While outside shooting always has been a big part of his game, Jordan Lyons (23) has developed into a team leader for Furman, which has won 91 games during his time in the program.

During a 97-second stretch of the first half of Furman’s win against Mercer on Feb. 5 at Timmons Arena, Jordan Lyons hit three consecutive 3-point field goals to spark a 16-0 run that gave the Paladins control of the game.

Those three field goals made Lyons Furman’s all-time leader in 3-pointers with 274, a number he stretched to 278 in Saturday’s win at Western Carolina.

That demonstrated Lyons’ skills at shooting. His skills at leadership were on display several hours prior to the Mercer contest.

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“We had film at 2:30, walk-through at 3, pre-game meal at 3:30,” Furman coach Bob Richey said after the game. “Jordan Lyons called a players-only film session at 1:30 to go through the coverages of what they were going to have to communicate and when they were going to have to communicate it. That’s how you earn the right to perform. When players are doing that, and they are leading that way, that’s when you see championships develop.”

More: Furman, Jordan Lyons set records in victory over Western Carolina

Lyons, who makes up the 2019-20 senior class by himself, exemplified what has made Furman’s current run of success special. His personal accomplishments are intertwined with those of the program.

Lyons’ 3-point field goals not only are the most in Furman history; they have him on the verge of entering the top 10 list for the Southern Conference. He also holds the school mark for most 3-point field goals in a season (105), and the 15 3-pointers he hit in a game in 2018 tied the NCAA record.

The wins against Mercer and Western Carolina lifted Lyons to the winningest four-year run in Furman history with 91 victories and counting. This year’s squad also reached 20 wins faster than any previous Furman team (25 games). The Paladins have been a 20-win team throughout Lyons’ career.

“There’s never been a player, a coach, or anybody associated with Furman basketball that has four 20-win seasons,” said Richey. “Think about that. They’ve been playing since 1919. Never been done before, and I think that’s huge. I think that’s incredible.”

Bob Richey standing in front of a crowd: Furman coach Bob Richey, rights, says about the decision by senior Jordan Lyons (23) to sign with the Paladins four years ago: "He bought into a vision. He wanted to come be a trailblazer. He wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before, and that was very important to him.” © EDDIE BURCH Furman coach Bob Richey, rights, says about the decision by senior Jordan Lyons (23) to sign with the Paladins four years ago: "He bought into a vision. He wanted to come be a trailblazer. He wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before, and that was very important to him.”

A deep connection 

After setting the career 3-point school record, Lyons emphasized it was about more than just himself.

“My father always told me growing up, whenever something good happens, I would tell him and he would always ask me if I got on my knees and thanked the Lord,” Lyons said. “So that’s first and foremost. Thank you to God, and I will continue to play in His name and continue to try to use His gifts and blessings to the best of my ability.”

Lyons also thanked the people of his hometown of Peachtree City, Georgia, for its support over the years. He said his teammates and coaches are a part of this as well.

“I truly am honored to hold that record, and I’m truly honored to be first in 3-pointers made ever here," he said. "Forever, that will be a ‘we’ accomplishment. A Furman basketball accomplishment. That’ll never be just Jordan Lyons. And I will always keep it that way.”

Richey said there has been a special connection with Lyons, who chose a Furman program about to launch a successful run.

“Jordan was highly recruited out of high school, and it was a time when we weren’t really winning a lot of games,” said Richey. “He bought into a vision. He wanted to come be a trailblazer. He wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before, and that was very important to him.”

That vision has led to 91 wins, a conference championship and a handful of records like the career 3-point mark.

“That’s a goal that I’ve had since I came in as a freshman,” Lyons said. “That’s a dream goal of mine. I remember being in the gym my freshman summer just working out and picturing this day and this night in my mind. I can remember it like it was yesterday. To be able to accomplish it is very, very special.”

Leadership role

The 91-win mark for Lyons eclipses the four-year record set just last season by Matt Rafferty and Andrew Brown. As Rafferty and Brown did, Lyons learned the Furman system of player and leadership development by watching them. And now he’s able to do that for the players following behind him.

a man holding a basketball: Jordan Lyons (23) has played in 125 games at Furman and has a school-record 91 wins. © EDDIE BURCH Jordan Lyons (23) has played in 125 games at Furman and has a school-record 91 wins.

“I told him, 'Don’t get caught up in the pressure,' ” said Richey, who talked with Lyons over the summer about being the leader of this team. “Don’t worry about what people on the outside say. They don’t know what we go through. Just understand that you’re continuing to play for your legacy. I’ve been really proud of how he’s been able to approach that.”

It's an approach that includes not only the training room and the extra work practicing shots but also leading teammates in extra film sessions.

“I don’t think everybody understands the pressure that could be following a season like last year, but also the leadership of Matt Rafferty and Andrew Brown and the pressure that comes with now, as the lone senior," Richey said. "This all has to be on (his) back. I think sometimes we forget about all that. These guys are humans. They’re regular people. Not just performers. They’re regular people, and they’ve got to deal with the stresses and the pressures and the noises. They’ve got to hear all that stuff.

"But at the end of the day, every single day and every single night, he’s tried to give his best for Furman basketball, and that’s what’s put him in position to be able to write his own story.”

Lyons and the Paladins (20-5), who were tied with East Tennessee State at 10-2 for first place in the SoCon, still have a lot of season remaining. Richey will count on Lyons’ various attributes as the Paladins attempt to finish strongly.

“He’s courageous. He’s confident," Richey said about Lyons. "He’s a great teammate. He really, really cares. I look forward to walking through the journey with him.”

Furman’s Remaining Games

Wednesday – at Samford, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday – Chattanooga, 4 p.m.

Feb. 19 – at ETSU, 7 p.m.

Feb. 22 – Wofford, 12 p.m.*

Feb. 26 – at UNCG, 7 p.m.

Feb. 29 – The Citadel, 4 p.m.

*at Bon Secours Wellness Arena

This article originally appeared on The Greenville News: On Jordan Lyons' shoulders, Furman basketball is reaching new heights

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