No. 16 North Carolina A&T (19-16) vs. No.
16 Lib (15-17)
Date: March 19, 2013
Time: 6:40 p.m.
Facility: UD Arena
Series: First meeting
DirectTV: 246, 246-1 HD
Dish Network: 204, 204 HD
Verizon: 183, 683 HD
AT&T: 164, 1164 HD
Cable: 41, 1313 HD
PROBABLE STARTERS: G Lamont Middleton (6-3 Jr., 12.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 apg); G Jean Louisme (6-4 Sr., 9.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.6 apg); F Austin Witter (6-8 Sr., 6.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.0 bpg); F Adrian Powell (6-6 Sr, 12.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.8 spg); C Bruce Beckford (6-7 Fr., 7.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
CHITCHAT: After 18 years, the MEAC championship resides in Greensboro. Now, the Aggies must try to do something they have never done before - win an NCAA tournament game. A&T is 0-9 in its previous trips to the Big Dance. In tonight's First Four contest, the Aggies face a Liberty team that is also without an NCAA tourney victory. A&T comes into the game on a four-game winning streak after sweeping four straight in last week's MEAC tournament. A&T is led by MEAC tournament MVP Adrian Powell and conference defensive player of the year Austin Witter. Witter blocked 12 shots throughout the MEAC tournament, including a big block with two minutes remaining and the Aggies leading by just two. If the Aggies are able to win tonight, they will bus to Lexington, Ky., to face the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, Louisville, at 6:50 p.m., on TBS. A win would also mark the first time the MEAC has won NCAA tournament games in consecutive years as a Division I conference as the Aggies will try to follow Norfolk State's upset win from last season with a win of their own.
From the coach:
"I'm very concerned about that. We're trying to keep things as normal as we would during the season as far as the road game is concerned, you know, film, practice for 45 minutes to an hour, team meal, film again tonight, walk through in the hotel, same routine, shoot around in the morning, and be as businesslike as we possibly can. I told them yesterday all the hoopla that we had on campus was great and it's a great national exposure for our university, and it's certainly going to help out our recruiting, but once we got out here, it's back to business.."
North Carolina A&T head coach Cy Alexander about his players being too caught up in the moment
It's A "Lock": The Aggies are hoping to go into the locker room tonight with a first half lead. The Aggies are 15-4 this season when leading at the half. They led at the half in the first three games of the MEAC tournament, and were tied at the half against Morgan State on Saturday.
The Opponent: The Flames are winners of five straight after coming into the month of March with a 10-20 record. They come into today's game as the champions of the Big South. It is the Flames' third appearance in the tournament and their first since 2004. John Caleb Sanders leads the Flames in scoring at 14.2 per game. Caleb is also the Flames' assist leader 3.5 per contest. Liberty has already faced two other MEAC opponents this season. The Flames lost to Morgan State 67-62 on No. 29 and had a 60-53 win over Howard on Dec. 15.
Potential Gameday Star power: North Carolina A&T: North Carolina A&T head coach thinks Jean Louisme could play a key role tonight. If Louisme gets hot from the outside and the Aggies can continue to play strong defensively, it could mean they could march on to face Louisville on Thursday. Liberty: John Caleb Sanders is the man that makes Liberty work. He leads the team in scoring and assists, and will be a tough challenge for the Aggies 11th-ranked field goal percentage defense.
The Magic Number For A&T: 1: That is the number of victories the Aggies need to move on. Coach Alexander wants to make sure the Aggies don't get ahead of themselves.
The Aggies were 2-0 against Big South opponents this season. The Aggies defeated Campbell 85-60 at neutral site on Nov. 23. They were also successful against Radford at Corbett Sports Center with an 81-77 win on Jan. 2.
A win tonight would mark the Aggies first 20-win season since going 26-3 during the 1987-88 season. It would also mark the 16th 20-win season in school history.