The Maine men's basketball team wraps up a two game road swing on Saturday afternoon as the squad travels to Binghamton, N.Y. to play the Bearcats, hoping to sweep the season series. The Black Bears picked up the first win against Binghamton at the Cross Insurance Center on Jan. 5, in Bangor Maine and Maine will attempt to make it 2-0 in the contest scheduled for 2 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT
The Vermont Catamounts snapped the Black Bears two-game winning streak as the No. 1 defense in America East defeated the No. 1 offense, 92-65 at Patrick Gym on Tuesday night. With the loss the Black Bears drop to 5-17 and 3-7 in conference while the Catamounts stay nearly flawless in conference play with a 9-1 mark and 15-9 overall.
Sandro Carrisimo and Clancy Rugg took care of the offensive firepower, as they were two of four players to reach double-figures scoring 20 and 15, respectively. Ethan O'Day and Candon Rusin also hit double figures, scoring 12 and 10. Vermont shot 60 percent form the floor in the game, hitting 38-of-63 from the field.
The Black Bears received offense from Zarko Valjarevic as the junior tallied 19 points. Meanwhile Kilian Cato and Xavier Pollard also aided in offense scoring 15 and 10, respectively. Maine shot 42 percent in the game.
The Catamounts registered 10 blocks in the contest and forced 13 turnovers, smothering the Black Bear attack. They also won the rebounding battle to the tune of 38-16.
Shaun Lawton got the Black Bears on the board in the opening minute taking a pass and dashing into the paint to lay in the first bucket of the contest. Cato followed that up with a bucket of his own, after forcing a Vermont miss, to get Maine out to a 4-0 lead.
SCOUTING THE BEARCATS
The Bearcats have struggled in conference play this season, coming in with a 1-9 overall record in America East play. Binghamton is currently mired in an eight game losing streak after taking down New Hampshire on Jan. 9 Binghamton has only managed four wins this year, and hold wins over Cornell (89-79), Mount St. Mary's (74-70), Bryant (67-62) and the aforementioned New Hampshire (67-38).
Jordan Reed is very much the straw that stirs the drinks for the Bearcats as he leads in many offensive and defensive categories. Reed paces Binghamton in points per game with 14.4 points per game, while he also leads in rebounds per game (8.1), steals per game (1.1) and blocks per game (1.1).
Yosef Yacob is second on the scoring chart as he and Nick Madray are the only other players to average double-figure points this season, averaging 10.9 and 10.8, respectively.
Like the Black Bears, the Bearcats suffer from a negative double-digit scoring margin, averaging 59.5 points per game while allowing 71.0 points per contest for their opponents. They have struggled from the field so far this season, shooting .379 (134-of-430) while hitting on just 31 percent from beyond the arc. Also like the Black Bears , turnovers have been an issue averaging 14.5 giveaways per contest.
SERIES HISTORY VS BINGHAMTON
This is the 28th meeting between these two squads as Maine leads the series 14-13.
In the last contest this season the Black Bears handled the Bearcats as Dimitry Akanda-Coronel led the way with the first double-double of his career scoring 14 points and 10 assists in the contest. Zarko Valjarevic also scored 14 points in the win, while junior forward Kilian Cato paced all Black Bears with 17 points.
Coming into the contest the Black Bears have won eight of the last nine contests with Binghamton's only win coming last season, upsetting the Black Bears, 57-56 in Orono. In the squad's last 10 meetings Maine has gone 8-2.
RANKING THE BLACK BEARS (As of Feb. 2)
• 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
The Maine Black Bear offense has excelled this season and it has been due, in large part, to its strong shooting percentage. The Black Bears are ranked third in the conference in shooting percentage, with a 45 percent mark. Coming into the week, not only were the Black Bears ranked amongst the elite of their conference peers but also it ranked fairly highly in the nation, coming in at 108th in the nation.
The Black Bears have done a nice job in game planning for their conference opponent's big name players. Having played every America East team at least once so far, the Black Bears have excelled against those opponent's leading scorers. When looking at each team's leading point-getters the Black Bears have limited those players to an average of 11 points per game. In the nine conference games so far the Black Bears have held teams' leading scorers to single digits five times and held it to 15-or fewer eight times. The only leading scorer to score above 15 points was Jordan Reed, who dropped 20 points against the Black Bears in the conference opener. The Black Bears have held Jameel Warney to just six points, Rodney Elliot to an average of seven points in two games, and Peter Hooley to just three points to name a few.
POLLARD NAMED COLLEGEHOOPSDAILY.COM ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
Xavier Pollard, who is currently the leading scorer in the America East conference, added one more accolade to his resume as Collegehoopsdaily.com, an independent sports blog, named Pollard part of their America East All-Conference team. Pollard joins, UMass-Lowell's Akeem Williams and Binghamton's Jordan Reed as guards while forwards Jameel Warney from Stony Brook and Mark Nwakamma from Hatford were named as forwards. Warney was named the Collegehoopsdialy.com's Player of the Year.
Xavier Pollard received his first 2013-14, America East weekly honor on Feb. 5, after he helped the Black Bears record the team's first back-to-back win streak of the season. Pollard 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.
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 15.4. Pollard has scored 20-or-more points, five times this year and has hit double-figure points in seven-straight contests. He also helped in the rebounding efforts averaging 4.3 rebounds. He is nationally ranked as well; ranking 41st in the country in steals per game with a 2.7 mark coming into the week.
The Black Bears offense has been at the top if not near the top of the conference chart for most of the year and they entered the week as the ranked No. 1 in the America East in points per game. The Black Bears average 73.3 points per game while Stony Brook started the week averaging 72.9. Maine also likes to spread the ball around and set up their buckets as the team ranks first in assists per game, averaging 14.5 per contest.