N.C. Central (14-15, 8-7 MEAC) vs. North Carolina A&T (18-12, 11-4 MEAC)
Date: March 1, 2018
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Facility: McDougald-McLendon Arena
Series: A&T leads 79-72
Radio: ESPN Triad Radio, 1320AM/1230 AM/93.7 FM/104.9 FM
PROBABLE STARTERS: F Davaris McGowens (6-7, 230, Sr., 10.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg); F Kwei Lartey (6-4, 200, Jr., 3.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg); G Kameron Langley (6-2, 205, Fr., 7.3 ppg, 5.1 apg); G Devonte Boykins (6-2, 180, Gr., 9.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg); C Femi Olujobi (6-8, 233, Jr., 16.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg).
AGGIES OVERVIEW: It is fitting that North Carolina A&T will have to defeat their biggest rival in N.C. Central to earn their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season title in 26 years. After losing at Florida A&M last Saturday, the Aggies recovered by defeating a Bethune-Cookman team on the road that came into the game on a five-game winning streak. The Aggies won in Daytona Beach, Fla., for just the second time since 1996. They were 1-17 at B-CU since ‘96, going into the game. The Aggies go into McDougald-McLendon Arena with a 27-35 record all time, and they are 2-4 in Durham since the Eagles returned to the MEAC seven years ago. The Aggies have won four of five from the Eagles including a 70-64 win over the Eagles at Corbett Sports Center earlier this season in which the Aggies overcame a 17-point second-half deficit with only 12 minutes remaining in the game.
NCCU OVERVIEW: The Eagles have been one of the stronger teams in the conference since head coach LeVelle Moton returned to his alma mater to become head coach nine seasons ago. The Eagles have been to the NCAA tournament twice under Moton and have taken three of the last four MEAC regular-season titles. This season, the Eagles are trying to avoid finishing below .500 for just the third time under Moton. The Eagles are led by All-MEAC candidate Raasean Davis who is averaging 15.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Davis is also shooting an impressive 68.3 percent from the field. Davis is 10th in the league in scoring, sixth in rebounding and leads the conference in field goal percentage. The other Eagles weapons are Pablo Rivas (11.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Reginald Gardner, Jr. (11.2 ppg) and point guard Jordan Perkins (8.4 ppg, 5.3 apg). Davis had 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting at Corbett earlier this season. Rivas and Gardner had 13 points apiece.
Stepping Up: Senior Davaris McGowens averaged 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds on 58.5 percent shooting in 11 games over November and December. After the New Year, McGowens is averaging 14.9 points, 7.8 rebounds on 59.9 percent shooting in 15 games.
News & Notes:
If the Aggies beat the Eagles tonight, it will be their fifth win over NCCU in six games. It will also guarantee the Aggies at least a share of the MEAC title.
The Aggies will likely have to share the title since there are five teams tied for the lead going into Thursday night’s games. The Aggies will be put in a multiple team tie scenario in the MEAC. The top tiebreaker for multiple team ties for the conference is a team’s record against the other teams they are tied with at season’s end.
The Aggies are tied with Norfolk State, Bethune-Cookman, Hampton and Savannah State for first place. The Aggies appear to be in good shape in that scenario. They are 3-1 against those teams this season. The Aggies 3-1 record amongst the teams who are tied is the best record with Hampton coming in second with a 3-2 record among the teams who are tied.
No MEAC team has ever gone from last to first in the league. The Aggies could be the first if they win Thursday night.