Alexander, Aggies Seek History-Making Win
No. 7 North Carolina A&T (17-16) vs. No. 6
Delaware State (15-17)
Date: March 15, 2013
Time: 8 p.m.
Facility: The Scope
Series: A&T leads, 55-28
PROBABLE STARTERS: G Lamont Middleton (6-3 Jr., 12.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 apg); G Jean Louisme (6-4 Sr., 9.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 apg); F Austin Witter (6-8 Sr., 6.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.0 bpg); F Adrian Powell (6-6 Sr, 12.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.8 spg); C Bruce Beckford (6-7 Fr., 7.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
CHITCHAT: The four remaining seeds in the MEAC Tournament are the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth seeds. Tonight, the seventh-seeded Aggies will face the sixth-seeded Delaware State Hornets. The game will feature more than 700 coaching wins between the two coaches. DSU head coach Greg Jackson has 359 career wins and he is 16-7 against the Aggies, a record that includes his days as N.C. Central's head coach. Meanwhile, Aggies veteran head coach Cy Alexander enters the game with 367 coaching victories, with 29 of those wins coming in the MEAC Tournament. A win today would make Alexander the all-time leader in MEAC Tournament wins. He is currently tied with Coppin State head coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell. Alexander won five MEAC titles as the head coach of S.C. State from 1987-2003. This will be the seventh meeting between the two teams in the tournament. The series is tied at 3 with the Hornets winning the last meeting 64-62 in 2008.
From the coach:
"What we did today better than we did yesterday, was defend. Just because you don't shoot the ball well doesn't mean you can't win. When you talk, when you communicate, the proof is in the pudding. We didn't shoot it well, but they shot 22 percent."
North Carolina A&T head coach Cy Alexander on the Aggies defense
It's A "Lock": Norfolk has been a good city for A&T in the tournament. The Aggies last trip to the championship game came in 1997 in the city of Norfolk. Their last semifinal win came at the expense of the Alexander-led S.C. State Bulldogs in '97.
The Opponent: Delaware State continued the upset theme at the 2013 MEAC Tournament. The Hornets knocked off the third-seeded Hampton Pirates with a 63-60 win. It completed the elimination of the three teams - Norfolk State, N.C. Central and Hampton - that received first-round byes. Casey Walker and Kendall Gray led the way for the Hornets with 13 points apiece. Marques Oliver had 11 rebounds. The Hornets feature an impressive defensive frontline with the presence of Gray and Oliver. Gray has 72 blocks on the season, while Oliver has swatted 61 shots. Tahj Tate, the 2011 conference rookie of the year, leads the Hornets with 12.6 points per game.
Potential Gameday Star power: North Carolina A&T: If the Aggies are going to win the MEAC championship, junior point guard Lamont Middleton will lead them there from the free throw line. Middleton has shot a conference-leading 207 free throws this season. In the tournament, he has been to the line 24 times and has connected on 14 free throws. Delaware State: In a game that will likely be played in the 40's or 50's, the play of Hornets forward Marques Oliver could be key. He can score around the basket and he defends well in the paint. He had three blocks, four steals and six rebounds in the Hornets 53-44 win over A&T in Dover, Del., on Feb. 4.
The Magic Number For A&T: 2: The Aggies need two more wins to win their first MEAC title in 18 years. Despite the long drought, the Aggies still own a conference-record 15 tournament titles.
An eight-point night will make Adrian Powell the 28th player in school history to score 1,000 points in a career. Powell is tied for the team-lead in scoring at 12.2 points per game.
Tonight will mark Austin Witter's 129th game played as an Aggie. That will tie him with former teammate Marc Hill for the most games played in an Aggies uniform. If the Aggies win tonight, it will all but guarantee Witter the games played record.
A win tonight would secure the Aggies first winning season since they went 15-13 during the 1996-97 under head coach Roy Thomas.