No. 13 Delaware State (4-27, 2-14 MEAC) vs. No. 4 North Carolina A&T (18-13, 11-5 MEAC)
Date: March 5, 2018
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Facility: Norfolk Scope Arena
Series: A&T leads 59-32
Radio: ESPN Triad Radio, 1320AM/1230 AM/93.7 FM/104.9 FM
PROBABLE STARTERS: F Davaris McGowens (6-7, 230, Sr., 10.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg); F Kwei Lartey (6-4, 200, Jr., 3.3 ppg, 1.4 rpg); G Kameron Langley (6-2, 205, Fr., 7.2 ppg, 5.0 apg); G Devonte Boykins (6-2, 180, Gr., 9.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg); C Femi Olujobi (6-8, 233, Jr., 16.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg).
AGGIES OVERVIEW: North Carolina A&T enters the 2018 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament as the No. 4 seed. It is their highest seed since the 2009 season when they entered as the No. 4 seed and lost to Coppin State in the quarterfinals in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Aggies will face off against the No. 13 seed Delaware State, a team they have defeated twice this season. The Aggies shot 54.1 percent from 2-point range against the Hornets (33-for-61). In Dover on Jan. 8, fifth-year forward Denzel Keyes came off the bench to score 17 points and graduate guard Devonte Boykins hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points to lead the Aggies to a 76-66 win. In Greensboro on Feb. 5, the Aggies struggled against the Hornets, shooting just 36.7 percent from the floor in a 54-51 win. The Aggies have not defeated the Hornets three times in a season since the 1983-84 season.
DELAWARE STATE OVERVIEW: The Hornets have picked up some key wins lately, with a 69-51 win at home against Coppin State and an 87-80 win over Morgan State. The two wins come after the Hornets lost their first 12 conference games. In fact, until their win over Coppin State on Feb. 19, the Hornets had not defeated a Division I team. DSU played the Aggies tough twice this season despite two losses. Artem Tavakalyn scored 23 points against the Aggies on 5-for-6 shooting from 3-point range in Dover on Jan. 8. Joe Lewis had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the Hornets loss at Corbett Sports Center on Feb. 5. Jonathan Walker also had 12 points at Corbett. The Hornets shot 43.2 percent against the Aggies from 3-point range during the season. Simon Okulue leads the Hornets in scoring (11.2 ppg) and Tavakalyn is second at 11.0 ppg. Okulue did not play in either game versus the Aggies.
Stepping Up: Junior Femi Olujobi is starting to establish himself on the boards again. In his last two games, Olujobi has secured double-figure rebounds with 10 at Bethune-Cookman and 11 against N.C. Central.
News & Notes:
The Aggies have been unlucky in the tournament. N.C. A&T has made the semifinals only twice (2007, 2013) in the past 20 seasons. The Aggies have only been in the championship game twice (1997, 2013) in the past 21 years. The Aggies have just eight tournaments wins since the 2000 season.
N.C. A&T is 6-2 all-time against the Hornets in the tournament. The last time the two teams played was the 2013 semifinal game the Aggies won 84-78.
The Aggies come into tonight’s game 18-13 after a 3-29 2016-17 season, a 15-game turnaround from the Aggies 3-29 effort from last season. For his turnaround efforts, N.C. A&T head coach Jay Joyner was named coach of the year in the MEAC. He is the first Aggie coach to win MEAC coach of the year since Don Corbett did it after the 1987-88 season.
If the Aggies win, they will play the winner of the No.5/No.12 game between Norfolk State and Maryland Eastern Shore Thursday night at Scope Arena. The Aggies beat NSU at home in January, while they beat MDES twice during the regular season.