GAME NOTES: A pair of teams hoping to find their footing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference get together on Monday night, as the Delaware State Hornets come calling on the Aggies of North Carolina A&T.
Both teams have had a rough go of it through the first two and a half months of the season, combining for just nine wins in 25 opportunities. The Hornets check in at 4-13 overall, and they have yet to win a MEAC clash (0-5), while the Aggies have a 5-12 record, which includes a split of their only two conference clashes.
DSU has lost three straight, the most recent of which being a 62-52 setback at NC Central over the weekend, and the team has dropped eight its last 10 overall. The Hornets are just 1-7 in true road games this season, 1-8 away from home all told when you factor in one neutral-site game.
North Carolina A&T is coming off an 88-82 win over NJIT in non-conference play, that game taking place this past Saturday in Greensboro, and the team has won two of its last three on the heels of a six-game slide from Dec. 7, 2013 to Jan. 4, 2014.
The Aggies lead the all-time series with the Hornets by a 55-31 margin, and the teams split a pair of meetings last season with DSU winning in the regular season, and NC A&T in the semifinals of the 2013 MEAC Tournament.
Despite boasting three players averaging in double figures, Delaware State's primary issues this season have come at the offensive end of the court, as the team puts up only 59.2 ppg, which ranks as one of the worst marks in Division I. Thankfully, the team has performed well on defense as it permits just 65.1 ppg (second-best in the MEAC), with foes shooting just 29.3 percent from 3- point range (tops in the conference). The Hornets themselves are shooting just 39.4 percent from the field overall, which includes a 29.1 percent showing from beyond the arc. Casey Walker (12.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg) leads the team in scoring, but perhaps the best all-around player for the Hornets is Kendall Gray, who has a stat line consisting of 11.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per contest, all while knocking down 54.7 percent of his field goal attempts. Walker and Tyshawn Bell both hit for 13 points in the recent loss to NC Central, with the latter coming up just one rebound shy of posting a double-double. Gray finished with nine points, seven boards and a block.
The Aggies aren't nearly as offensively-challenged as their counterpart tonight, but their 68.4 ppg isn't anything to get overly excited about as the team shoots just 40.6 percent from the floor while committing nearly 16 turnovers per outing. NC A&T is fortunate to have two of the top-5 scorers in the MEAC on its roster, as Lamont Middleton and Richaud Pack are netting 17.6 and 17.5 ppg, respectively. Both combine to pull down 8.7 rpg, while also handing out a combined 70 assists. Bruce Beckford (12.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg) rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers, while also serving as its leading rebounder. Jeremy Underwood is NC A&T's primary playmaker with 50 assists, and he is shooting just shy of 40 percent from 3-point range. The Aggies' defensive effort yields 75.7 ppg, and they are tops in the league in rebounding margin at +2.3. Pack went off in the recent win over NJIT, going 9- of-15 from the field, 4-of-8 from distance, and 8-of-12 at the free-throw line to finish with 30 points. He dished out eight assists as well. Underwood added 19 points, doing so by nailing five treys. As a team, the Aggies shot 57.7 percent from the field, but were guilty of 18 turnovers.
Both teams have struggled this season, but the Aggies are clearly the choice here at home, In fact, they should probably win this one with relative ease.
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