A&T Awaits Today's Big Rivalry Game
North Carolina A&T (13-14, 6-6 MEAC) at
N.C. Central (18-8, 11-1 MEAC)
Date: February 23, 2013
Time: 4 p.m.
Facility: McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium
Series: A&T leads, 74-66
PROBABLE STARTERS: G Lamont Middleton (6-3 Jr., 12.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.4 apg); G Jean Louisme (6-4 Sr., 9.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.6 apg); F Austin Witter (6-8 Sr., 6.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.0 bpg); F Adrian Powell (6-6 Sr, 12.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.8 spg); C Bruce Beckford (6-7 Fr., 7.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
CHIT CHAT: The next week and a half may determine how well the Aggies play in the upcoming MEAC Basketball Tournament in Norfolk, Va. The Aggies face the No. 2 team in the conference today, N.C. Central, at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium. They then invite S.C. State, who beat them last week, into Corbett Sports Center for Senior Night on March 2. Two days later, they face Savannah State in a nationally-televised (ESPNU) game at Corbett. The Tigers are the defending MEAC regular-season champs and the No.3 team in the MEAC. The regular-season finale is against Norfolk State, who is currently undefeated in the conference after winning the MEAC tournament last season and an NCAA first-round game against second-seeded Missouri. The combined conference record of the Aggies remaining opponents is 31-13. S.C. State has 10 of those losses. If the Aggies play well, they could enter the tournament with tons of momentum.
From the coach:
"There execution in close games has been exceptional. You have to give a lot of credit to coach (LeVelle) Moton for having his guys ready for late-game situations. They are a veteran team, and a lot of notoriety has to go to Ray Willis, Jeremy Ingram and Stanton Kidd. You throw those guys in with what is in my opinion, one of the best floor managers, point guards in this league (Emanuel Chapman), and you're going to be successful. We basically have to go out on Saturday and play hard, play smart and we can't make too many mistakes defensively. We've got to do a good job on slowing down Willis, Ingram and Stanton. We can't make it easy for Chapman to get them the ball where they like it."
North Carolina A&T head coach Cy Alexander on the N.C. Central
It's A "Lock": In the five games the Aggies and the Eagles have played since the Eagles returned to Division I three years ago, the team who has had the higher field percentage has won each game. The Eagles are 4-1 against A&T over the last three seasons.
The Opponent: N.C. Central recently had its 11-game winning streak snapped last week by Savannah State, but returned to the win column on Monday with a win over S.C. State. The Eagles have one of the best starting 5's in mid-major basketball. Emanuel Chapman is the floor leader at the point guard position. He leads the MEAC in assists at 6.1 per game. Chapman didn't score in the first game, but he had nine assists. Jeremy Ingram is second in the conference in scoring, and Stanton Kidd led the Eagles in the first meeting versus A&T with 24 points and nine rebounds. Ray Willis is second on the team in scoring and leads the conference in free throwing shooting at 85.7 percent.
Potential Gameday Star power: North Carolina A&T: Senior forward Adrian Powell had a career-high 29 points against the Eagles in December. In five career games against the Eagles, Powell is averaging 16.2 points. N.C. Central: Jeremy Ingram is second in the league in scoring, and has led the Eagles in scoring over the last four games. In those four games, Ingram is 23-for-47 from the field, 35-for-40 from the line and he is averaging 22.8 points.
The Magic Number For A&T: 40: The Aggies have not shot better than 40 percent over their last three games. They are 1-2 in those contests. The Aggies will have to shoot well in order to beat the Eagles.
Austin Witter has 80 blocks on the season. He needs six more blocks to break Thomas Coleman's single-season school record for blocked shots. Coleman set the record during the 2008-09 season.
Senior forward Adrian Powell needs 74 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 five games remaining to get there.