A&T Faces A Top-25 Mid-Major Program Tonight
EASTERN KENTUCKY (9-1, 0-0 OVC) at NORTH
CAROLINA A&T (4-7, 0-1 MEAC) Date: December 19, 2012
Time: 7 p.m.
Facility: Corbett Sports Center
Series: First Meeting
Live Webstream: www.ncataggies.com; TEN WEB TV; Walter Johnson (play-by-play), Terry Cooper (analyst).
G Lamont Middleton (6-3 Jr., 13.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.7 apg); G Jean Louisme (6-4 Sr., 8.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.3 apg); F Austin Witter (6-8 Sr., 5.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg); F Adrian Powell (6-6 Sr, 11.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.8 spg); C Bruce Beckford (6-7 Fr., 7.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
CHIT CHAT: The Aggies face a tough challenge at home tonight as they face Eastern Kentucky of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Colonels are 9-1 and ranked No. 16 in the latest Mid-Major Top-25 poll. The Aggies are coming off of a New Jersey trip that yielded a 1-1 record after a 76-71 win over NJIT and a 77-66 loss to Seton Hall. It was a painful trip as well. Senior forward DaMetrius Upchurch could sit out tonight's game with a broken nose, and sophomore forward Waylan Siverand is also questionable with a bruised hand. The Aggies will have the services of Austin Witter, the reigning MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Witter finished with 10 blocks last week, including an impressive eight swats against NJIT. The Colonels are familiar to A&T head coach Cy Alexander. Alexander faced EKU several times when he was in the OVC as the head coach of Tennessee State. Alexander is 7-8 against EKU in his career.
From the coach:
"It's a process. When you're trying to take a new team that's made questionable decisions for three years, it's hard to eliminate them making those types of decisions. But we've got to do it. We've got to get them to understand, if it's not a sure bet, don't bet on it."
North Carolina A&T head coach Cy Alexander on the Aggies going forward
It's A "Lock": North Carolina A&T is awfully good when they can get the game into the 70's. The Aggies have won 16 straight when scoring 70 or more points. All of their wins this season have come when they have gone beyond 70 points. The last time the Aggies lost a game when scoring 70 or more points was an 83-82 loss at Maryland Eastern Shore on Feb. 7, 2011.
The Opponent: Eastern Kentucky won its first nine games of the season, marking the first time the school has accomplished that feat since the 1947-48 season. The Colonels have already played three MEAC schools this season. They beat defending MEAC Champion Norfolk State by 24, Delaware State by 33 and N.C. Central by six. The Colonels are coming off of their first loss of the season, a 66-53 defeat at the hands of No. 10 Illinois. Junior college transfer Glen Cosey is EKU's main offensive threat, averaging 17.0 points and shooting 46.2 percent from 3-point range. Northern Illinois transfer Mike Dinunno averages 12.9 points and shoots 41.1 percent from three.
Potential Gameday Star power: North Carolina A&T: Senior forward Adrian Powell seems to have found his rhythm lately. After losing his starting position after the first three games of the season, Powell came off of the bench for four straight games. He has started the last four contests and has responded by scoring in double figures in three of them, including a 29-point outburst against N.C. Central earlier this month. Eastern Kentucky: Cosey and Dinunno will demand a lot of attention. But Corey Walden, another junior college transfer for EKU, can also make life miserable for opposing defenses. The sophomore had 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting against Illinois and 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting against Norfolk State.
The Magic Number For A&T: 3: The Aggies have lost two straight at home. They have not lost three straight at home since the 2005-06 season.
The Aggies are shooting 69.8 percent from the free throw line this season. The Aggies have not shot better than 70 percent from the free throw line since the 1990-91 season when they shot 71.6 percent on their way to a 17-10 record.
North Carolina A&T has failed to shoot better than 50 percent in every game except one this season. But they have held five of their opponents to under 40 percent shooting this season, and are 4-1 when they do so.
The Aggies have three players ranked in the top 10 in free throw shooting in the conference. Senior guard Jean Louisme is third in the conference at .892, junior guard Jeremy Underwood is sixth at .844 and junior guard Lamont Middleton is eighth at .802.