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Aggies Face In-State Rival On Saturday

Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
          Release: 01/03/2014
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A&T center Bryan Akinkugbe could be key to an Aggies victory on Saturday. Photo by Kevin L. Dorsey
Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
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North Carolina A&T (3-10) at Charlotte (8-4)
 January 4, 2014   
Time: 7 p.m.
Facility: Halton Arena
Series: Charlotte leads 8-0
PROBABLE STARTERS: G Jeremy Underwood (6-0, 185, Sr., 5.6 ppg, 3.1 apg, 2.8 rpg); G Lamont Middleton (6-3, 205, Sr., 17.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.5 apg); G Richaud Pack (6-3, 183, Sr., 16.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.1 apg) F Bruce Beckford (6-7, 215, 12.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg); C Bryan Akinkugbe (6-9, 225, Jr., 5.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg).

Aggies Overview:  The Aggies return to Charlotte for the first time in 10 seasons. Their last trip to Halton Arena wasn’t very fun. The Aggies endured their worst loss in school history as the 49ers defeated A&T 102-39 on Nov. 24, 2003. The expectation is Saturday’s game will not get out of hand like that one. The Aggies were in full rebuilding mode back then, coming off of a one-win season. This season, the Aggies are not rebuilding but they are trying to find their identity as a team. The Aggies have three players they go to for scoring in forward Bruce Beckford and guards Richaud Pack and Lamont Middleton. Jeremy Underwood handles the point guard duties. The Aggies are just to figure out to make it all mesh with a very youthful bench and players who haven’t played with each other before this season. Head coach Cy Alexander hopes it comes together before the conference season.

Charlotte Overview: The 49ers are led by head coach Alan Major. They are coming off of a close loss to Georgia Tech of the ACC. The Aggies also came close to beating the Yellow Jackets earlier this season. The 49ers are 4-2 at Halton Arena this season with losses to Davidson and Georgia Tech. They come into Saturday’s game with a balanced attack. Shawn Lester leads the 49ers at 13.8 points per game, but Terrence Williams (10.9), Pierra Henry (10.4) and Mike Thorne, Jr. (10.3) all average in double figures as well. The 49ers also rebound the ball well. Clayton leads the way by averaging 9.6 rebounds per game.

Potential Star: Bryan Akinkugbe gives the Aggies another rebounder to go along with Bruce Beckford. He can also be effective in the post if opponents are focused on Pack and Middleton. Akinkugbe is also valuable on the glass, averaging 3.0 offensive rebounds per game.

News & Notes:

The Aggies have never defeated Charlotte in eight tries. But they have played the 49ers just once at Halton Arena. The Aggies and the 49ers played each other five straight seasons from 1989-94.

• The Aggies are looking to break a five-game losing streak. The Aggies are shooting just 37.2 percent during the streak and have turned the basketball over 15 more times than their opponents. They have rebounded well during the streak, outrebound opponents by an average of 5.0 per game.

• A&T guard Richaud Pack failed to score in double figures his last time out. It marked the first time this season he failed to score 10 or more points this season.

From the coach:

“I hope they will respond to the things we’re saying and trying to teach. It’s a long season. The good thing is – even being 3-10 – we’re still (0-0) in the conference. That’s the one thing that keeps me sane. That after January 11, we got a chance to be 1-0.”
Men’s Basketball Coach Cy Alexander on the upcoming conference season

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