Savannah State (17-12, 10-4 MEAC) at North
Carolina A&T (14-15, 7-7 MEAC)
Date: March 4, 2013
Time: 9 p.m.
Facility: Corbett Sports Center
Series: Savannah State leads, 3-0
TV: ESPNU; Matt Schick (play-by-play); Stan Lewter (analyst)
PROBABLE STARTERS: G Lamont Middleton (6-3 Jr., 12.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.3 apg); G Jean Louisme (6-4 Sr., 9.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.6 apg); F Austin Witter (6-8 Sr., 6.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.0 bpg); F Adrian Powell (6-6 Sr, 12.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.9 spg); C Bruce Beckford (6-7 Fr., 7.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg).
CHIT CHAT: Closing out the regular season against the No. 3 and No. 1 teams in the conference can be a good thing for the North Carolina A&T men's basketball team. The Aggies are doing a reset as the month of March begins. Head coach Cy Alexander considers his team 1-0 because in his mind, March begins a new season. Momentum means everything in March, and wins over two of the top teams in the conference could give the Aggies the boost they need heading into Norfolk, Va., March 11-6, for the MEAC Championship Basketball Tournament. Tonight, the Aggies will play on national television. Their last appearance on ESPNU resulted in an exciting 93-92 overtime win over Coppin State in Baltimore, Md. With the student body on Spring Break, the Aggies hope the community will be enough to cheer them on to victory over the Tigers, who have won all three meetings between the two teams.
From the coach:
"I told them, 'Nobody is going to remember what you do in college basketball in November, December, January or February. But you will be remembered for what you do in March.' So we're 1-0 on our season."
North Carolina A&T head coach Cy Alexander on March Madness
It's A "Lock": The Aggies are going to play solid defense. Only one Aggies opponent this season - Cincinnati - has shot better than 50 percent against the Aggies this season. A&T leads the conference in field goal percentage defense. They rank 24th nationally.
The Opponent: Savannah State comes into today's game off of a 51-47 loss to N.C. Central on Saturday. The loss put the Tigers in a third-place tie with Hampton as they battled to get one of the top three spots in the conference. A top-3 seed gives the Tigers the opportunity to win only three games instead of four to win the MEAC tournament. After winning five in a row, the Tigers have now lost their last two. The Tigers have shot below 40 percent over those two contests. Rashad Hassan leads the Tigers with 12.7 points per game. Louis Arnold, who leads the team in rebounding, had 18 points and 12 rebounds in SSU's win over A&T on Feb. 18.
Potential Gameday Star power: North Carolina A&T: Savannah State makes it tough to score. Therefore, senior guard Jean Louisme could be key for the Aggies tonight. If he is able to knock down perimeter shots in what will be a defensive grind, it could lead the Aggies to victory. Savannah State: Cy Alexander wants his team to better at not giving up second-chance points. SSU's Louis Arnold could make that mission hard tonight. Arnold is second in the conference in rebounding and sixth in offensive rebounding.
The Magic Number For A&T: 40: The Aggies have held 17 opponents under 40 percent shooting this season. They are 11-6 when they accomplish this feat.
Austin Witter has 86 blocks on the season. On Saturday, he broke the school's single-season blocked shots record. The old record belonged to Thomas Coleman, who set the record during the 2008-09 season.
Senior forward Adrian Powell needs 57 points to reach 1,000 for his career. If he gets hot late, he could become just the 28th player in school history to accomplish the feat. He has at least three games remaining to get there.