BALTIMORE, Md. – Norfolk State will close out the regular season with four of five games on the road. First up on the docket is a trip to Morgan State this Saturday. Tip-off against the Bears is set for 4 p.m. from the Hill Field House.
NSU had its five-game win streak snapped on Monday against UMES, but the Spartans still maintain a two-game lead for second place in the MEAC at 9-2. NSU stands 16-10 overall.
The game will be broadcast live on Star 1310 AM and Hot 91.1 FM with Ross Gordon on the call. Live audio is available through the Star 1310 website as well as through the Hot 91.1 website. Both feeds are available on smartphones through the Star 1310 website or through www.TuneIn.com or the TuneIn Radio App (search for “WNSB”) for Hot 91.1.
Fans can also follow along with the live stats here.
Norfolk State owns a 34-12 all-time record against the Bears, with the Spartans having won eight of the past nine meetings. NSU won 85-65 in the first meeting this year back in December, the largest victory over the Bears since an 81-53 triumph on Jan. 16, 2006, a span of 17 games. It also marked the most points the Spartans scored against Morgan State in a regulation contest in 29 games.
About Morgan State
The Bears have won their last two games against Savannah State and South Carolina State, their first win streak of the season, to improve to 6-18 overall and 4-6 in conference play. MSU’s offense has been the biggest achilles heel, as the Bears average less than 60 points per game while shooting 35 percent overall and a little better than 27 percent from 3-point range. Cedric Blossom (14.6 points) and Blake Bozeman (12.3) are the only double-digit scorers and the only two players averaging at least six points per contest. Donte Pretlow (5.9 points, 3.6 assists) and Zech Smith (5.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.6) also make up part of the regular starting lineup. Morgan State only turns the ball over 11.0 times per game with a +3.8 turnover margin. Opponents, though, have shot better than 47 percent overall against MSU.
Last Time Out
UMES got hot in the second half and pulled away for an 82-64 win over the Spartans on Monday night at Joseph Echols Hall. The Hawks used a 22-4 run in the second half and their prowess on the glass to hand NSU its worst conference loss since December of 2008. UMES outscored NSU by 19 in the second half, had a 38-26 edge in rebounds and outscored the Spartans 26-6 in second-chance points. NSU shot less than 40 percent overall, although RaShid Gaston did finish 9-of-12 for 24 points to go with seven rebounds. Jeff Short was the only other double-digit scorer with 17.
• Averaging 19.5 points, 55.7 percent shooting, 39.2 percent 3-point shooting, 80.0 percent free throw shooting and 2.2 assists in MEAC games
• Averaging 2.7 assists last six games
• Career-high four steals and tied career high with four assists vs. UMES
• Shot 9-of-9 from the free throw line vs. UMES, the first NSU player in four years to hit at least that many free throws in a game without a miss
• Tallied at least 15 points in 20 of last 21 games
• Has scored in double figures in all but one game this year
• Shooting 114-of-197 (57.9 percent) from 2-point range
• Has sank a 3-pointer in all but three games this year
• Ranks 1st in the MEAC in scoring (19.4), 4th in free throw percentage (82.8) and minutes (33.8), 5th in 3-point field goal percentage (40.1), 7th in 3-point field goals (2.1) and 8th in field goal percentage (50.6)
• Stands 23rd in the nation in scoring (19.4); Also ranks in total points (5, 504), total field goals (17, 169), field goal percentage (76, 50.6), free throw percentage (90, 82.8), minutes (144, 33:50) and 3-point field goals per game (185, 2.12)
• Ranks 13th in the nation among guards in shooting percentage; Would rank 43rd in 3-point field goal percentage but does not have enough makes on the year
• Stands 9th in NSU D-I single season records in points scored (504); Also stands 5th in free throw percentage (.828) and scoring average (19.4), 6th in 3-point field goal percentage (.401), 10th in 3-point field goals (55), 12th in field goals (169) and free throws made (111) and 14th in field goal percentage (.506); Also ranks 7th in free throw percentage for overall single season records and 14th in 3-point field goal percentage (See table page 6)
• Averaging 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 blocks and shooting 68.4 percent in MEAC games
• Averaging 16.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 blocks while shooting 66.7 percent (34-of-51) in the last five games
• 61-of-89 field goals (68.5 percent) and 2.1 assists last nine games
• 15 10+ rebound games in last 21 contests
• Has at least one block in 12 straight games
• Named MEAC Defensive Player of the Week on Feb. 9 after posting 17 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and three blocks against Howard
• Second defensive player of the week honor and third weekly honor this year from the MEAC
• Ranks 2nd in the MEAC in rebounds (9.7) and defensive rebounds (6.5), 3rd in field goal percentage (61.7), 4th in offensive rebounds (3.2) and 8th in scoring (14.9) and blocks (1.3)
• Stands 7th in the nation in field goal percentage (61.7) and 13th in double-doubles (13); Also ranks in total rebounds (18, 233), rebounding (23, 9.7), defensive rebounds (30, 6.50), offensive rebounds (45, 3.21), blocks (182, 1.25) and scoring (198, 14.9)
• Ranks 30th in NCAA Division I in career field goal percentage (.567), 34th in double-doubles (18), 39th in rebounding average (7.4) and 122nd in rebounds (551)
• Stands 6th in NSU records with a .567 career shooting percentage and 19th in blocks (60) (See table page 7)
• Ranks 3rd in NSU D-I single season records in field goal percentage (.617), 4th in rebounding average (9.7), 5th in rebounds (233) and 12th in blocks (30); Also ranks 6th in field goal percentage for overall single season records (See table page 6)
• Averaging 6.0 assists last two games
• Ranks 3rd in the MEAC in assists (4.4) and 6th in assist-turnover ratio (1.9)
• Stands 80th in the nation in assists (4.4) and 135th in assist-turnover ratio (1.93)
• Ranks 13th in NCAA Division I in career assists (524), 21st in assist-turnover ratio (1.91), 42nd in games played (125) and 52nd in assist average (4.19)
• Ranks 2nd all-time at NSU in assists with 524 (See table page 7) behind Billy Walker (1980-85)
• Stands 3rd in games played (125) at NSU and 10th in career steals (142)
• Ranks 4th in NSU D-I single season records with a 4.40 assist average as well as 5th in assists (110) (See table page 6)
• Averaging 13.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and shooting 48.6 percent overall and 40.4 percent from 3-point range in MEAC games
• Shooting 36-of-74 (48.6 percent) last nine games
• Ranks 6th in the MEAC in 3-point field goal percentage (39.3) and 15th in scoring (12.5)
• Ranks 185th in the nation in double doubles (3)
• Stands 10th in NSU D-I single season records with a .393 3-point field goal percentage (See table page 6)
• 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 56.8 percent shooting (21-of-37) in four games from Jan. 27-Feb. 7
• Ranks 12th in the MEAC in blocks (1.0)
• 2.4 blocks in seven games played from Jan. 6-31
• 4.1 rebounds last 12 games played
• Ranks 9th in the MEAC in blocks (1.2) and 187th in the nation (1.24)
• Stands 11th in NSU D-I single season records with 31 blocks (See table page 6)
• 3.4 points, 2.3 rebounds last nine games played
• 6.5 points last two games
• Career-high eight points vs. Howard
The Spartans stand alone in second place in the MEAC at 9-2, while North Carolina Central sits in first at 10-0. NSU has a two-game lead for second place in the MEAC, with UMES (7-4), Howard (6-4) and Delaware State (5-4) all sitting with four losses in conference play. UMES would own any head-to-head tiebreaker with NSU, which still must play Howard and Delaware State in the last four games of the regular season.
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, NSU has gone 25-3 in conference road games.
Winning Big in the MEAC
Over the last nine games, all in league play, NSU has held opponents to just 38.6 percent shooting, including 27.3 percent from 3-point range. The Spartans, on the other hand, have hit 51.4 percent overall and 33.8 percent from 3-point range during that time.
Overall in conference play, NSU is averaging 72.9 points per game so far this year while shooting 52.5 percent overall and 36.6 percent from 3-point range. NSU has outrebounded foes by an average of 6.3 boards per contest while also holding them to 38.0 percent shooting and 26.3 percent from beyond the arc. Seven of NSU’s nine MEAC wins have been by double digits, the first time since 2004-05 the Spartans won seven conference games by 10 or more points.
Best in the Conference
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, NSU is 49-10 in regular season conference play, second in the MEAC over that period of time behind North Carolina Central (50-8). Counting MEAC tournament games, the Spartans are 54-12, while the Eagles are 54-10 during that time.
NSU has already secured its 17th straight season with a .500 or better record in the MEAC. In fact, in Norfolk State’s 60 seasons in a conference including this year, the program has had just one losing conference record (9-10 in the CIAA in 1990-91).
NSU is tied for 10th in the nation with Wisconsin and Florida for the longest streak of .500-or-better conference records in a row (See table page 6). Coming into the year, only nine other schools had longer Division I streaks than the Spartans. NSU has posted 23 straight .500 or better conference records, dating back to its D-II CIAA days.
NSU needs one more win this year for its fourth straight winning season. Prior to the start of that streak in 2011-12, NSU had a winning record just twice in 14 seasons since moving to Division I in 1997.
The Spartans rank No. 1 in the MEAC in rebounding margin (+4.8) and blocks (5.3). They also stand second in scoring offense (68.8), scoring margin (+3.8), field goal percentage (46.9), defensive rebounds (25.2), defensive rebound percentage (69.8) and assist-turnover ratio (0.9), as well as third in field goal percentage defense (40.5), 3-point field goal percentage (34.5), opponent rebounding (31.2), offensive rebound percentage (34.9) and assists (13.4).
NSU is the only school in the MEAC with three players ranked in the top 15 in scoring.
Over the last 14 contests, the Spartans are averaging 6.9 blocks per game and have outblocked the opposition by a collective 97-38 margin. NSU had 10 at Savannah State, tied for the most in a game over the past 10 years.
Winning the State
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, NSU has the third-most wins (82) among the 14th Division I schools in the state of Virginia. The Spartans trail Virginia (97) and VCU (100).
Thanks for the Points
NSU has outscored 10 of its last 11 opponents in points off turnovers, although in nine of the last 13 games NSU has had the same amount or more turnovers than the opposition. On the year the Spartans are averaging 14.9 points off turnovers per game compared to 14.0 for opponents. NSU has had at least 12 points off turnovers in each of the last nine games.
The Spartans rank 19th in the nation in blocks (5.3) as well as in the top 150 in total blocks (9, 139), total rebounds (27, 938), rebound margin (41, +4.8), field goal percentage (43, 46.9), defensive rebounds (81, 25.15), field goal percentage defense (85, 40.5), total rebounds per game (97, 36.08), win-loss percentage (112, 64.5), assists (126, 13.4), scoring margin (130, +3.8), scoring offense (139, 68.8), 3-point field goal percentage defense (140, 33.2) and scoring defense (143, 65.0).
Lend a Helping Hand
Norfolk State’s current 13.4 assists-per-game rate is behind the D-I record of 13.8 set in 1998-99 and last year’s mark of 13.7, the most since that 1998-99 campaign.
NSU has outscored the other team by an average of 6.7 more points in the paint (31.1-24.4). On the year, NSU has outscored or been even against 21 of its 26 opponents in points in the paint, including 11 straight from Nov. 22-Dec. 22. Over the past four games, NSU is averaging 33.6 points in the paint.
Ahead at the Half
The Spartans are 66-9 since the start of the 2011-12 season when leading or tied at the half. They also have four wins this year when trailing at the half after winning just one game last year.
Get to 20
NSU has had a 20-point scorer in 18 contests this year and 23 overall 20-point performances in 26 games.