Maine Men's Basketball Back on the Road at Vermont

 
February 3, 2014

Maine Men's Basketball Back on the Road at Vermont

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OPENING TIP

The Maine men's basketball team attempts to make it three wins in a row on Tuesday night when the squad heads to Burlington, Vt., shooting for the conference upset. The Catamounts handed Maine an 83-46 loss in Bangor, Maine, earlier in the year and the Black Bears look to serve some revenge in the game which beginning at 7 p.m.

LAST TIME OUT

The Maine men's basketball team recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season as the team edged the UMBC Retrievers, 83-80, at the Cross Insurance Center, Saturday afternoon. With the win the Black Bears improve to 5-16 and 3-6 in conference while UMBC falls to 7-15 and 3-6 in America East play. 

The Retrievers used a strong second half surge to tie the game up with 7:21 left in the game, after being down by 20 points at halftime, but the Black Bears held on for the victory.

It was a tale of two halves for the Black Bears as Maine outscored the Retrievers, 56-36 in the first frame while UMBC took over in the second half to the tune of 44-27. 

Maine's junior leadership paced the offense as Xavier Pollard and Zarko Valjarevic both tallied 18 points to lead the team. Marko Pirovic had his best game as a Black Bear, nearly completing the double-double with 13 points and nine boards. Pollard came close to a double-double as well as he added seven assists to his double-figure point total.

UMBC got offense from the usual suspects as Chase Plummer scored 23 points while Rodney Elliot tallied 21, in the loss. 

The Black Bears outrebounded the Retrievers 42-41 in the game, as it's only the fourth time this season that the Black Bears have won the battle for the boards.

SCOUTING VERMONT

Vermont comes into this contest as one of the top teams in the conference, entering the matchup with a 14-9 overall mark but a more impressive 8-1 mark in America East play. Vermont's only blemish came at the hands of Stony Brook on Jan. 24 as the squad was overpowered in the first half but nearly completed a second-half comeback, falling to the Seawolves, 67-64. 

Clancy Rugg paces the Black Bears in points per game with a 12.7 mark while teammate; Sandro Carissimo isn't far behind with a 12.3 mark. Meanwhile Brian Voelkel leads the team with 8.4 rebounds per contest as well as assists with 5.9 and steals with a 1.5 mark. Voelkel's efforts have made the Catamount's scoring defense, No.1 in the conference allowing opponents just 61.3 points per game.

As a team Vermont averages 68.7 points per game making for a +7.4 scoring margin. The Catamounts are also No. 2 in the league in rebounding margin (+4.1) and also No. 1 in the conference in blocked shots, averaging 4.7 per game. 

SERIES HISTORY

This meeting will be the 129th meeting between these two teams as Maine holds the edge, 70-58, all-time. 

In its last meeting with the Black Bears the Vermont defense smothered the Black Bears holding the league's most potent offense to its lowest point total of the season with a paltry 46 points. The Vermont offense spread ball around as three players reached double-digits as Ethan O'Day led the way with 12 points while Hector Harold had 10 and Kurt Steidl also had 10. The Black Bears offense was held without a double-digit point total as Garet Beal came off the bench and scored nine points in the losing effort. 

The Catamounts have had their way in its last 10 games however going 9-1 against the Black Bears. It hasn't mattered home or away as the Catamounts are 3-1 both on the road and at home while they are a perfect 2-0 at a neutral site in its last 10 versus the Black Bears. 

RANKING THE BLACK BEARS (As of Feb. 2)

NCAA Rankings

Shaun Lawton and Xavier Pollard both rank in the top 50 in steals per game with 2.1 and 1.9, respectively. Lawton 34th and Lawton 57th.

• Lawton is ranked 50th in the country in total steals with 42. 

• Lawton is also ranked 83rd in assists per game averaging 4.6.

 • Zarko Valjarevic is nationally ranked in most 3-point categories:

• 3-pointers per game – 81st (2.48)

• Total 3-pointers made – 84th (52)

• Pollard is now ranked 215th in the country in points per game (15.7).

• Maine is now 37th in the country in steals per game with 7.9 per contest. 

• Maine is 57th in the country in the assists per game category with 14.7.

• Black Bears are 53rd in Division I basketball in total steals with 166.

• Maine is 78th in total assists with 309. 

America East Rankings 

• Maine is the No. 1 in scoring offense in the conference with 73.7 points per game.

• Lawton is both 2nd in the AE in assists per game (4.6) and first in steals per contest (2.0).

• Pollard is first in the conference in points per game with 15.7 while second in steals.

• 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 scoring offense 

• 1st in assists per game 

• 1st in total assists 

• 2nd in steals per game 

• 2nd in total steals 

• 3rd 3-point field goals per game

• 3rd in 3-pointers per game 

• 3rd in 3-pointers made

• 3rd in assist turnover ratio

HE'S HONORED

Xavier Pollard received his first America East weekly honor this past weekend after helping the Black Bears record their first back-to-back win streak of the season. Pol

lard dropped 20 points on New Hampshire and then followed that up with 18 points against UMBC. Pollard showed a propensity to get it done in many facets in both games as he averaged 19 points averaged 19.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals.Dimitry Akanda-Coronel is the only other Black Bear to earn America East weekly honors getting back-to-back honors at the end of Dec. 2013.  

X-FACTOR

Xavier Pollard continues to be the key ingredient in the Black Bears' No.1 ranked offensive attack. Pollard currently leads the team and the league in points per game with 15.7. Pollard has scored 20-or-more points, five times this year and has hit double-figure points in six-straight contests. He also helped in the rebounding efforts averaging 4.4 rebounds. He is nationally ranked as well; ranking 41st in the country in steals per game with a 2.7 mark. 



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