The Maine men's basketball team readies itself for mid-week showdown with rival New Hampshire as the team travels to Durham, N.H., to play the Wildcats on Wednesday night. That game is slated for 7 p.m., and is the first game of a two-game week as Maine will be back at home on Saturday to host UMBC at 2 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT
The Black Bears limited Stony Brook to just 27 first half points but the Seawolves exploded for 52 in the second frame as the Black Bears fell, 79-61 at the Pritchard Arena on Saturday afternoon. With the loss the Black Bears drop to 3-16 and 1-6 in conference while Stony Brook remains undefeated in conference play at 7-0 and 15-6 overall.
Much of the focus surrounded Stony Brooks' premiere player, Jameel Warney but it was Ahamad Walker that did most of the damage for the Seawolves. The freshman dropped 22 points on the Black Bears and recorded 11 rebounds for the double-double.
For Maine, Xavier Pollard paced the offense scoring 19 and taking down five rebounds.
Stony Brook shot 51 percent for the game, improving upon a 34 percent first half average, while Maine shot 41 percent, improving upon a 24 percent first half mark.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
The UNH Wildcats are in the process of turning around what looked to ba dismal season. After winning its firs two games of 2013-14, New Hampshire went on a 13 game losing streak that spanned nearly three months. Since that time UNH has won three of its last four contests and gotten its most lethal player back. The Wildcats enter the weekend on a two-game winning streak having defeated Albany, 60-56 on Jan. 23 and most recently took down UMass Lowell, 61-32 on Jan. 26.
Chris Pelcher is without a doubt the Wildcats biggest threat as he averages a double-double in points and rebounds through nine games. Pelcher leades the team in points per game with 11.8 and rebounds with 10.4 He also has 27 blocks in nine averaging 3.0 rejections per game.
Helping out the scoring duties is Patrick Konan who is the only other double-figure scorer on the team, averaging 11.2 per game. Jordan Bronner is likened to UNH's version of Shaun Lawton, who leads the team in both assists and steals. Bronner has 41 assists through 20 games ( 2.05/pg) and 16 steals (0.8/pg).
The Wildcats, which were devoid of Pelcher's scoring touch for much of the year has only managed a 57.1 points per contest while allowing opponents to score 62.7. Shooting has been an issue for the Wildcats as they maintain shooting percentage, both in the field and from beyond the arc. The team is currently hitting 37 from the field and 31 from 3-point land.
SERIES HISTORY WITH UNH WILDCATS
UNH and Maine meet for the 184th time in the history of the two rivals, with the Black Bears holding a 116-67 series lead. The Black Bears have also held the edge in the last 10 meetings as the team has gone 6-4. The Wildcats had the last laugh last season however as the team swept the season series, edging Maine 57-54 in Orono, Maine, last season and winning 69-53 in Durham, N.H. in the final meeting 2012-13.
RANKING THE BLACK BEARS (As of Jan. 26)
• Shaun Lawton is now ranked 46th in the nation in steals per game with a 2.00 mark.
• Lawton is ranked 72nd in the country in total steals with 36.
• Lawton is also ranked 105th in assists per game averaging 4.4.
• Zarko Valjarevic is nationally ranked in most 3-point categories:
• 3-pointers per game – 71st (2.53)
• 3-point FG percentage – 27th (43.6)
• Total 3-pointers made – 80th (48)
• Maine is now 42nd in the country in steals per game with 7.8 per contest.
• Maine is 64th in the country in the assists per game category with 14.6.
• Black Bears are 62nd in Division I basketball in total steals with 149.
America East Rankings
• Maine is the No. 2 in scoring offense in the conference with 73.5 points per game.
• Lawton is both 2nd in the AE in assists per game (4.6) and first in steals per contest (2.0).
• Valjarevic is the conference's deadliest 3-point shooter ranking second in 3-pointers per game, 3-point percentage and 3-pointers made.
Team Quick Hit Rankings:
• 1st in assists per game (14.6)
• 1st in total assists (278)
• 2nd in steals per game (7.8)
• 2nd in total steals (149)
• 3rd 3-point field goals per game (6.6)
• 3rd in 3-pointers per game (6.6)
• 3rd in assist turnover ratio (0.97)
THREE KEYS TO VICTORY
• 40 Minutes of Basketball: Something has happened quite often in conference play has been inconsistency from half-to-half in conference play. When looking at the seven conference games the Black Bears have only been outscored seven in total points. Meanwhile that deficit grows to 78 in the second frame in those seven contests. The Black Bears have also carried leads into the break in four out of seven contests however only has one win to show for it. The squad needs how to be consistent from one half to another.
• Key Players Need to Be Key: The Black Bears have relied heavily on certain players this year. Key cog, Xavier Pollard has remained consistent since entering conference play hitting double-digit points in all but one game through six so far, however guards Zarko Valjarevic and Dimitry Akanda-Coronel have struggled maintaining a consistent pace. Valjarevic has been ice cold recently scoring a combined 11 points through the four games while Akanda-Coronel has gone every other game hitting that double-figure plateau. If the Black Bears are to be successful they'll need to fire on all cylinders from here on out.
• Paint Play: So far this season we've heard it one million times, rebounding is the key for the Black Bears. In all but one of its three wins the Black Bears owned the paint taking down more boards than its opponent. Since entering conference play, rebounding has been less of an issue as the double-digit rebounding margin that it suffered through in the first swath of games has come down to a -5.1 in its seven conference games to this point. Rebounding will be magnified when they face UNH's center Chris Pelcher. If the Black Bears can somehow tip rebounds into their favor, it should pay dividends on the scoreboard against the Wildcats.
GLOGER GETS GOING
Black Bear forward Till Gloger seems to be hitting his offensive groove in his last three games. Gloger has reached double-digit point totals in three consecutive contests, scoring 13 against Albany, 12 against UMass Lowell and 10 in his last game against Stony Brook. Gloger is currently ranked third in the conference in field goal percentage in conference games, shooting 60 percent and averaging 8.0 points per contest.
Maine Men's Basketball Faces Rival New Hampshire in 184th Meeting on Wednesday Night