Maine Men's Basketball Hosts Hartford On Wednesday Night

 

Maine Men's Basketball Hosts Hartford On Wednesday Night

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OPENING TIP
The Maine men's basketball team comes home to the Cross Insurance center for a home contest against Hartford on Feb. 12. The Black Bears look to even the season series at 1-1, after falling to the Hawks on Jan. 9, as they take on their America East foe at 7 p.m.

LAST TIME OUT
The Black Bears received inspired efforts from Till Gloger and Troy Reid-Knight as the pair set new career-highs in points but the Black Bears fell to Binghamton, 73-58 at the Binghamton Events Center on Saturday afternoon. The Black Bears now drops to 5-18 and 3-8 in America East play while Binghamton improves to 5-19 and 2-9 in the conference.

Both Gloger and Reid-Knight paced the Black Bear offense with 15 points apiece as Maine shot its lowest field goal percentage since its loss to Vermont on Jan. 16, hitting on just 35 percent from the field.

Jordan Reed, who scored 20 points against the Black Bears, sparked Binghamton's offense. It's the second time this season that Reed has scored 20 against the squad from Orono, Maine. Binghamton shot 43 percent as a team and had two other players' record double-figure points, as Roland Brown and Yosef Yacob had 17 and 15, respectively.

The Bearcats won the rebounding margin, something they didn't do in the first meeting between these two squads, taking down 48 boards to Maine's 33.

SCOUTING HARTFORD
The Hawks come to Bangor, Maine having just snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating the Albany Great Danes, 67-54 at home on Feb. 8. The Hawks had been mired in a three-game slump losing to UMBC on Jan. 25 (60-58), Vermont on Jan. 29 (67-60), and Stony Brook  on Feb. 1 (56-52).

Hartford is paced by its star forward Mark Nwakamma who averages 14.9 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per contest and 2.2 assists per game. Yolonzo Moore II also averages double-figure points as he scores 10.2 points per game.

Nwakamma's 5.8 rebounding mark leads the team while both Oren Faulk and Moore II both average around two rebounds a game with a 2.4 and 2.9 mark, respectively. The Hawks spread the assists around as three players average around two assists per game, as Moore II averages 2.6 helpers, Nwakamma averages 2.2 and Nate Sikma dishes out 2.0.

Like the Black Bears the Hawks suffer from a negative scoring margin as they've averaged 64.0 points per game while allowing 66.0. While rebounds and turnovers have also been a slight issue for the Hawks as they hold a negative margin in those categories as well, getting outrebounded 31.9-27.6 and have turned it over to the tune of 14.4-12.8.

SERIES HISTORY
The Black Bears and Hawks get ready for the 66th meeting between the two squads as Hartford currently holds a 37-28 advantage over Maine.  This season the Hawks also hold a 1-0 record over Maine, winning a contest that really was a tail of two halves. The Black Bears did a nice job against Hartford in the first half, edging the Hawks 31-30 in points and limiting big-game player Mark Nwakamma to just two points in the first half as he shot 1-of-11. Nwakamma and his Hawks exploded for 50 points in the second frame as the squad defeated the Black Bears 80-65 in Hartford, Conn.

Recent history hasn't been too kind to the Black Bears either, as the Hawks have won eight of the last 10 meetings between the two schools. Maine did record a victory at home last season, defeating Hartford, 66-64 in Orono, Maine in 2013, which snapped a seven-game losing streak that spanned 2011-2013.

RANKING THE BLACK BEARS (As of Feb. 9)
NCAA Rankings
Shaun Lawton is now ranked 52nd in the nation in steals per game with a 1.97 mark.
• Lawton is ranked 66th in the country in total steals with 43.
• Lawton is also ranked 116th in assists per game averaging 4.3.
 • Zarko Valjarevic is nationally ranked in most 3-point categories:
    • 3-pointers per game – 78st (2.48)
    • Total 3-pointers made – 83rd (57)
• Maine is now 47th in the country in steals per game with 7.6 per contest.
• Maine is 69th in the country in the assists per game category with 14.4.
• Black Bears are 67th in Division I basketball in total steals with 175.

America East Rankings
• Maine is the No. 1 in scoring offense in the conference with 72.7 points per game.
• Lawton is both 2nd in the AE in assists per game (4.3) and first in steals per contest (1.9).
• Valjarevic is the conference's deadliest 3-point shooter ranking second in 3-pointers per game, and 3-pointers made.

Team Quick Hit Rankings:
• 1st in assists per game (14.4)
• 1st in total assists (331)
• 2nd in steals per game (7.6)
• 2nd in total steals (175)
• 3rd 3-point field goals per game (6.7)
• 3rd in assist turnover ratio (0.98)

ALUMNI ACCOLADES
BK Jekabpils forward Troy Barnies was named the Most Valuable Player of the month in the Baltic Basketball League (BBL) after putting up stellar performances throughout January. The 24-year-old Maine alum, has been enjoying a great season, while Jekabpils is in good position to make the BBL Playoffs, as they currently sit in fourth position in Group A, with three crucial games remaining. During the three games in January, Barnies averaged 19.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals, while shooting a solid 52percent from the field.

His best performance came in a huge 89-47 victory against Tyco Rapla on Jan. 3, when the player recorded an impressive double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes of action.

SHOOTING BAROMETER
While the standard NCAA basketball game takes at least 40 minutes to play, Maine men's basketball fans can play the role of fortuneteller by looking at the field goal percentage numbers at any point during the contest to see how it will play out. The Black Bears have only lost one game this year when it's had a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. Maine is 3-0 in conference when outgunning their America East foe and are 5-1 overall in that same circumstance.

ACCURATE SHOOTERS
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 fourth 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 164th in the nation.

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.



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