North Carolina A&T (1-1) at Rhode Island (1-1)
Date: November 15, 2013
Time: 7 p.m.
Facility: Thomas M. Ryan Center
Series: Rhode Island leads 1-0
PROBABLE STARTERS: G Jeremy Underwood (6-0, 185, Sr., 8.0 ppg, 3.0 apg); G Lamont Middleton (6-3, 205, Sr., 23.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.0 apg); F Bruce Beckford (6-7, 215, So., 14.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg); F Maurice Taylor (6-7, 202, Fr., 2.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.0 apg); F Waylan Siverand (6-7, 190, Jr., 6.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg).
Aggies Overview: A&T is coming off of a seven-point loss to Utah Valley and now will begin Game 2 of a seven-game road trip as the Aggies take on the Rams of Rhode Island. It is apparent early on this season that the Aggies big scoring duo is senior guards Lamont Middleton and Richaud Pack. Middleton had an outstanding overall game against the Wolverines on Monday as he finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds to record the second double-double of his career. Pack opened his career as an Aggie with 30 points against Greensboro College on Nov. 8. Middleton is shooting 56 percent from the floor (15-for-27), while Pack is shooting 68 percent (13-for-19). A&T wants more rebounding, better execution on the offensive end and better free throw shooting. The Aggies overcame a 12-point second-half deficit on Monday, but turnovers and free throws helped the Wolverines regain a double-figure lead.
Rhode Island College Overview: Rhode Island is coming off of an 8-21 2012-13 season and a 3-13 Atlantic 10 record. The Rams are off to a 1-1 start this season with a win over Maine and a loss to SMU. Sophomore Ifeanyi Onyekaba is the Rams leading scorer and rebounder at 17.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Onyekaba was named Atlantic 10 co-Rookie of the Week on Nov. 11 after securing a double-double against Maine. Another young Ram may also be a problem for the Aggies. Freshman guard E.C. Matthews had 15 points in the loss to SMU. Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley enters his second season as the Rams head coach.
Potential Star: Sophomore Bruce Beckford is slowly getting healthy again, which is good news for A&T. Rebounding is so vital when the Aggies are playing on the road against schools from major conferences. Beckford had eight rebounds against Utah Valley. A big day on the boards along with him hitting shots in the post could help A&T earn a win.
News & Notes:
· The Aggies were able to get their freshmen some experience over the summer when the team traveled to the Dominican Republic in August for three exhibition games against club teams. The Aggies went 2-1 during the trip and were able to visit orphanages, put on basketball clinics for youth and spread goodwill throughout the country.
· Alexander won his sixth MEAC title after winning five with A&T conference rival S.C. State from 1987-03. Alexander also spent six seasons at Tennessee State. He is 373-319 in 23 seasons as a head coach. Alexander is the all-time leader in MEAC tournament wins with 31.
· Only guard Lamont Middleton, forward Waylan Siverand, point guard Jeremy Underwood, forward Bruce Beckford and guard Ahmad Abdullah return from last year’s championship team. Only Middleton and Beckford were starters and only Middleton, Underwood, Beckford earned significant playing time.
From the Coach
“We got outrebounded and outworked on the glass. We kept fighting, but as a young team we have to learn to be able to match people’s physicality against us on a nightly basis. They’re starting to realize what this Division I game is all about.”
A&T men’s basketball coach Cy Alexander on the Aggies’ young team