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NSU takes D.C. trip to face Howard on Saturday, Feb 6

 Norfolk State's last two-game, four-day MEAC road trip of the season will begin at Howard where the Spartan men's basketball team faces the Bison on Saturday, Feb 6 at 4 p.m. at Burr Gymnasium. Photo from NSUSpartans.com.

Norfolk State’s last two-game, four-day MEAC road trip of the season will begin at Howard where the Spartan men’s basketball team faces the Bison on Saturday, Feb 6 at 4 p.m. at Burr Gymnasium. Photo from NSUSpartans.com.

NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State’s last two-game, four-day MEAC road trip of the season will begin at Howard where the Spartan men’s basketball team faces the Bison on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Burr Gymnasium.

The Spartans sit 6-2 and in third place in the MEAC. NSU could move back into second place with a win over the fourth-place Bison (4-3) and a loss by South Carolina State (7-2). NSU closes out the trip on Monday at UMES and will then have only two more road games this season.

Media Coverage
The game will be broadcast live on Star 1310 AM as well as Hot 91.1 FM with Ross Gordon on the call. Live audio is available through http://www.star1310.com as well as hot91.nsu.edu:8000/128. Both feeds are available on smartphones through the Star 1310 website or through http://www.TuneIn.com or the TuneIn Radio App (search for “WNSB”) for Hot 91.1.

Series History
Howard won the previous meeting in overtime, 61-59 last year in Washington, D.C., on a last second 3-point shot. That broke a 10-game winning streak by NSU, although the Spartans still lead 39-10 in the all-time series. The Bison last won back-to-back games against NSU during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.

About Howard
The Bison score 74 points per game thanks in part to the nation’s leading scorer, James Daniel (27.5 points). Damon Collins (10.5 points) and Marcel Boyd (10.1, team-leading 8.9 rebounds) also chip in for a team that shoots just 30 percent from the 3-point line (and 41 percent overall) but makes, on average, 21 free throws per game. Daniel has made 189 free throws already this season and also tallies 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals. Howard most recently lost to Morgan State by 20 and UMES by 18, both on the road, to fall to 4-3 in the league as well as 10-12 overall. The Bison give up close to 77 points to the opposition and allow almost eight 3-pointers per contest.

Last Time Out
NSU was down by nine at the half at Hampton in the Battle of the Bay last Saturday. After taking the lead later in the second half, the Spartans were unable to hold on. A 15-4 run by Hampton broke the game open and eventually gave the Pirates an 86-76 win at the HU Convocation Center. Reginald Johnson finished with 29 points to lead Hampton, while Jeff Short countered with 23 for NSU. The Spartans cooled from long range, hitting just 4-of-20 and 26-of-66 (39.4 percent) overall. D’Shon Taylor tallied 17 points for NSU with nine rebounds, while Jordan Butler contributed 10 points and 12 boards, part of a 40-36 edge on the glass for Norfolk State. The Spartans did shoot 20-of-22 (90.9 percent) from the free throw line and score a season-high 40 points in the paint.

MEAC Standings
Hampton (8-1) leads the conference after its win over the Spartans, with South Carolina State (7-2) and NSU (6-2) right behind. Norfolk State fell to Hampton but defeated South Carolina State, which handed Hampton its only loss this year to make each team 1-1 against the other two. At 4-3, Howard is the only other school with less than four losses in MEAC play.

Good from the Line
NSU, which ranked No. 282 in the nation last year in free throw percentage, has improved its mark from 65.9 to 79.0 percent this season, which currently ranks the Spartans No. 1 in the nation ahead of St. Bonaventure (78.3). NSU is attempting to hit better than 70 percent this year for the first time since the 2003-04 season. The school record stands at 72.3 set in 1968-69.

NSU has hit 154-of-186 (82.8 percent) over the last seven games, including a season-high 30 makes against Savannah State, one of just five times in the Division I era the Spartans reached that mark. In addition, they have shot 114-of-138 (82.6 percent) in the last five minutes of their games this year.

Good From Long Range
So far this year, Norfolk State is hitting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc with 176 total treys. NSU’s current clip from long range ranks No. 55 in the nation. NSU is chasing the school’s Division I record of 35.7 percent set in 1998-99 and its overall record of 198 total 3-pointers set in 2011-12. NSU is also currently No. 114 in the nation in 3-pointers per game (7.7).

Player Tidbits
Jeff Short
• Reached 1,000 career points in NSU career in loss at Hampton; became 35th all-time 1,000-point scorer at NSU and the seventh to do so in two years (Ralph Tally, David Pope, James Grant, Damian Woolfolk, Corey Williams, Marcus Whitfield)
• 21st career 20-point game with 23 at Hampton
• Ranks 3rd in the MEAC in 3-point field goal % (38.8), 5th in free throw % (83.2), 7th in scoring (16.2) and 9th in 3-point field goals (2.1); Sits No. 97 in the nation in free throw % (83.2), 189 in points per game (16.2) and 229 in 3-point field goals per game (2.14)
• Stands No. 94 in NCAA D-I in career scoring average (13.0) and 133 in points (1,186)
• Ranks 2nd in NSU career records in free throw % (.824), 8th in 3-point field goal percentage (.392), 9th in 3-point field goals (116), 11th in 3-point field goal attempts (296) and 35th in scoring (1,004)
• His 83.2 % average from the free throw line is currently ranks third in a season in NSU’s D-I history; Also ranks 11th in scoring average (16.2)
• Averaging 2.6 assists last 12 games (31 total)
• Has made a 3-pointer in 13 straight games

D’Shon Taylor
• Has scored in double figures in 7 of the last 8 games and averaging 14.3 points last 4 games while shooting 18-of-39 overall
• Ranks 10th in the MEAC in field goal % (44.9), 11th in free throw % (80.3), 12th in 3-point field goal % (35.5) and 21st in scoring (12.1); Also sits No. 183 in the nation in free throw % (80.3)
• Ranks 16th in NSU career records in 3-point field goal attempts (217), 17th in 3-point field goal % (.355) and 18th in 3-point field goals (77)
• His 80.3 % average from the free throw line currently ranks 9th in NSU’s D-I season record book

Charles Oliver
• Averaging 19.4 points last 5 games while shooting 29-58 overall and 21-43 from 3-point range
• Tallied career high 25 points against Savannah State; 7th career 20-point game (all at NSU)
• Tied career high with 6 3-pointers against South Carolina State and Savannah State
• Averaging 16.5 points in league play
• Ranks 4th in the MEAC in 3-point field goal % (38.8), 7th in free throw % (82.0), 8th in 3-point field goals (2.2), 12th in scoring (13.5) and 15th in field goal % (43.0); Sits No. 131 in the nation in free throw % (82.0) and 214 in 3-pointers per game (2.17)
• Stands 6th in NSU D-I season records for free throw % (82.0) and 13th in 3-point field goals (50)

Zaynah Robinson
• 53-10 assist-turnover ratio last 20 games
• Has a 4.00 assist-turnover ratio for the season; Would rank 8th in the nation but is short of the 3.0 assists-per-game qualifying mark
• Averaged 9.0 points and 4.0 assists in 4 games from Jan. 16-25; Tied career high with 13 points against South Carolina State, his 3rd double-digit scoring effort of the season
• Has tallied 16 steals in his last 8 games
• Has made a 3-pointer in 10 of the last 13 games; Has hit 21 of his last 22 free throw attempts
• Ranks 2nd in the MEAC in 3-point field goal % (40.4), 5th in steals (1.5) and 11th in assists (2.8); Stands No. 172 in the nation in steals per game (1.48)

Jordan Butler
• Tallied 2nd double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds at Hampton and 5th game with 10+ rebounds
• Ranks 3rd in the MEAC in blocks (1.9), 9th in defensive rebounds (4.7) and rebounding (6.7) and 15th in offensive rebounds (2.1); Also stands No. 47 in the nation in blocks (1.91) and 226 in rebounds (6.7)
• Ranks 11th in NSU career records in blocks (80)
• Also stands 8th in NSU D-I season records for blocks (44)

Preston Bungei
• Averaged 10.0 points on 10-of-18 shooting with 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 4 games from Jan. 16-25
• Averaging 7.3 points in league play
• Ranks 10th in the MEAC in blocks (1.0)
• Has made 14 of his last 16 free throw attempts

Jonathan Wade
• Averaged 11.2 points on 16-of-28 field goals and 6-of-9 3-pointers in 4 games from Jan. 16-25; Reached double figures each of those 4 games and has 8 such games on the season
• Averaging 7.9 points in league play

Alex Long
• Averaging 9.4 points on 24-of-41 shooting and 5.9 rebounds last 7 games
• Averaging 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in league play
• Ranks 12th in the MEAC in blocks (1.0)
• Has hit 20 of his last 21 free throw attempts
• Has garnered back-to-back MEAC Rookie of the Week awards the last two weeks

Share the Ball
In the last five games, NSU has had 24 double-digit scoring efforts, including five in contests at North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central and six against South Carolina State. NSU is averaging 39.6 points off the bench during the last five games.

Rackin’ Up the Points
In four of NSU’s wins this year in conference play, the Spartans have scored 87, 88 (twice) and 92 points. In fact, NSU has scored at least 70 points in all seven MEAC games this year and is averaging 81.6 in-conference.

Better in the 2nd
NSU has scored more points in the second half than the first in 18 of 23 games this season. The Spartans are averaging 39.9 points after halftime but 32.6 before the intermission. On the year, the Spartans have shot 273-of-335 (81.5 percent) from the free throw line after intermission but just 144-of-193 (74.6 percent) beforehand. The Spartans also have a -1.7 rebound margin in the first half and a +1.5 margin in the second half.

MEAC Rankings
The Spartans continue to lead the league in 3-point field goal percentage (37.5), with the second highest team at 34.2. NSU also ranks first in free throw percentage (79.0), second in scoring margin (-1.3), 3-pointers per game (7.7), opponent rebounding (34.6), blocks (4.7) and assist-turnover ratio (0.9) and third in rebounding margin (-0.3).

Conference Streak
NSU needs two more wins for its 18th straight season with a .500 or better record in the MEAC. In fact, in Norfolk State’s 60 seasons in a conference, the program has had just one losing conference record (9-10 in the CIAA in 1990-91).

NSU is tied with Wisconsin for eighth in the nation for the longest streak of .500-or-better conference records in a row in Division I (See table page 5). NSU has posted 23 straight .500 or better conference records, dating back to that 1990-91 campaign.

Limit Those Giveaways
The Spartans on the season are averaging 12.7 turnovers per contest. The school record for fewest giveaways per game is 13.1 set in 1987-88. NSU has also had as many or fewer turnovers than the opposition in eight of the last nine games. On the flip side, NSU is averaging 17.6 points off turnovers the last eight games.

Block Party
NSU ranks No. 59 in the nation with 4.7 blocks per game. The top 4 seasons in NSU history in terms of total blocks have all come within the last five years. The Spartans have averaged 161.0 blocks per season over those last five years and currently have 107 for this season. They have also tallied 7.0 blocks the last three contests.

Originally posted on NSUSpartans.com.