5 things to know about NC A&T heading into the NCAA tournament

jjones@charlotteobserver.comMarch 18, 2013 

North Carolina A&T is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995 with first-year coach Cy Alexander.

The Aggies (19-16) will play fellow No. 16 seed Liberty in the First Four at 6:40 p.m. tonight on TruTV. Here are five things to know about the team as they play their 10th NCAA tournament game in program history:

Winning streak: It took the Aggies until Jan. 5 to win back-to-back games, and they didn’t win three consecutive games throughout the regular season. But to get to the Big Dance, A&T had to go on a four-game winning streak. They beat No. 2 N.C. Central in the quarterfinals of the MEAC tournament and then topped Morgan State 57-54 to get an automatic bid.

0-for-tournament: A&T has never won an NCAA tournament game, but Tuesday’s match gives them their best shot so far. The Aggies went to the tournament every year between 1982-1988 under Don Corbett. They’re 0-for-9 all-time in the tournament.

Local guy: Senior shooting guard Adrian Powell leads the Aggies in scoring with 12.5 points per game on 39.7 percent shooting. Powell is from Conover and went to school in Virginia at Massanutten Military Academy. He’s also second on the team in rebounds with 5 per game. Freshman guard Shaun Stewart is from Monroe and went to Sun Valley.

Alexander history: This isn’t Alexander’s first trip to the tournament. Before his first-year success with the Aggies, Alexander coached Tennessee State for six seasons and South Carolina State for 16 seasons. He took S.C. State to the NCAA tournament in 1998, losing 82-67 to Kentucky in the first round.

Happy block: Forward Austin Witter is tied for ninth in the nation in blocked shots per game with 3. At 6-foot-8, Witter is the tallest player on the Aggie roster. The senior is listed as a guard/forward but plays like the team’s center. He also grabs 7.1 rebounds per game.

Jones: 704-890-4543

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