North Carolina A&T (11-11, 4-3 MEAC) at Delaware
State (9-11, 4-2 MEAC)
Date: February 4, 2013
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Facility: Memorial Hall
Series: A&T leads, 55-27
PROBABLE STARTERS: G Lamont Middleton (6-3 Jr., 13.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.5 apg); G Jean Louisme (6-4 Sr., 9.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg); F Austin Witter (6-8 Sr., 6.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.0 bpg); F Adrian Powell (6-6 Sr, 13.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.8 spg); C DaMetrius Upchurch (6-7 Sr., 4.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg).
CHIT CHAT: North Carolina A&T has caught a little fire heading into its game at Delaware State tonight. The Aggies are 6-2 since their 5-9 start. They are now .500 in February for the first time since the 2008-09 season. They are also above .500 in the conference, and are tied with Hampton for fifth place, a half of a game behind Delaware State. The Aggies defense seems to play well on the road. A&T has held its last two road foes to a combined .286 shooting in back-to-back wins. The Aggies also have not surrendered more than 45 points in their last two road contests. What the Aggies have been disappointed with is their free throw shooting. They are a combined 13-for-32 from the line in their last two games. Head coach Cy Alexander believes if the Aggies can return to shooting free throws as well as they were early in the season, the Aggies could grab one of the top three spots in the standings, which would give them a first-round bye in the MEAC Tournament in March.
From the coach:
"You just have to keep shooting them. You can't be punitive about it at this point because we have to play Delaware State in 48 hours. Eventually, we might have to put some penalties in place if we're not making free throws, but right now we have to stay positive. If you go negative, you just add fuel to the fire."
North Carolina A&T head coach Cy Alexander on free throw shooting
It's A "Lock": A&T ranks second in the conference in field goal percentage. Teams are shooting just .393 against the Aggies. When teams shoot less than .400 against A&T, the Aggies are 9-2.
The Opponent: Delaware State is coming off of a 54-43 loss to N.C. Central on Saturday. Casey Walker played 40 minutes and scored 11 points in the contest. The Hornets are 5-5 against the Aggies in the last 10 meetings between the two teams. The Hornets return 2012 MEAC Rookie of the Year Tahj Tate. Tate, the DSU point guard, leads the team in scoring and assists at 14.0 points and 2.4 assists per game. Tate is the only Hornet averaging double figures in Delaware State's slowdown offense. The Hornets also return another member of the 2012 MEAC All-Rookie team in Tyshawn Bell. Bell is the Hornets second-leading scorer at 8.2 per game.
Potential Gameday Star power: North Carolina A&T: Junior point guard Lamont Middleton usually plays a big role at the end of games. Middleton has shot 133 free throws this season, and he is shooting .759 from the line. Therefore, head coach Cy Alexander wants the ball in his hands late in games. Middleton has shot more free throws than any other player who ranks in the top-20 free throw shooting percentage in the MEAC. Delaware State: Kendall Gray could be a huge defensive presence for Delaware State. Gray is second in the conference in blocked shots behind A&T's Austin Witter. Gray had five blocks in the Hornets 56-41 win over the Aggies last season in Corbett Sports Center.
The Magic Number For A&T: 59: North Carolina A&T beat UMES 46-44. It marked the first time in 26 games that the Aggies won despite scoring 59 points or less.
A&T center Bruce Beckford should return tonight after missing two games with a back injury. Beckford left the game after first three minutes on Jan. 19 against Howard with pain in his back.
Austin Witter was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after earning nine blocks in two games. Witter had the game-winning block against Coppin State on Jan. 28 to help A&T win 63-62. Witter is 18 blocks away from setting the Aggies single-season record.