NORFOLK, Va. – After seeing its 10-game win streak snapped on Monday, the second longest in the program’s Division I era, the Norfolk State men’s basketball team will look to start a new one with just two games left in the regular season. Up first, NSU hosts Howard on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Joseph Echols Hall. The contest will serve as Senior Night for the program in the last home contest of the season.
NSU’s loss on Monday tightened up the top of the standings. The Spartans now sit 11-3, two games behind in the loss column to first-place North Carolina Central (12-1). Norfolk State has already wrapped up a top-four finish in the league and a MEAC tournament bye. But the Spartans also sit just one game ahead of both Hampton and Morgan State (both 9-4).
Howard, picked to win the league in the preseason poll, has slumped to a 7-21 overall record and a 4-9 MEAC mark this year.
The game will be broadcast live on Star 1310 AM as well as Hot 91.1 FM with Ross Gordon and Julee O’Neal on the call. Live audio is available through www.star1310.com as well as hot91.nsu.edu:8000/128. 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.
Norfolk State has fared better against Howard than any other MEAC school, leading the all-time series 41-10. NSU has won 12 of the last 13 meetings and has owned win streaks of 11, 10, eight and seven at various times against the Bison. The Spartans won both games last year, including a 99-92 double-overtime win at Howard. NSU has also won the last seven against Howard played either at NSU or in the MEAC tournament.
With last year’s leading scorer James Daniel out for almost the entire season, the Bison have struggled to score, averaging just 63 points per game. They are capable of pulling an upset, evidenced by their three-point win over third-place Morgan State on Feb. 13. On the year, Charles Williams and James Miller have led the way with 15.9 and 15.3 points per game, respectively. Solomon Mangham (9.4 points, 6.7 rebounds) and Damon Collins (9.3 points, 4.9 rebounds) also add to the scoring punch, although as a team the Bison shoot just 39 percent overall, 29 percent from 3-point range and 66 percent from the free throw line. A -2.4 turnover margin has not helped this year, as has the fact they only assist on 40 percent of their makes from the floor.
Last Time Out
NSU trailed the entire second half and shot just 37 percent from the floor in a 75-65 loss at Bethune-Cookman on Monday night in Florida. Brandon Tabb scored 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting, helping B-CU finish 11-of-21 from the 3-point line with four treys of his own. The Wildcats also made 18-of-21 from the free throw line. NSU, on the other hand, held a 42-30 edge on the glass, including 18-4 in offensive rebounds. Jordan Butler had a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Jonathan Wade (15) and Zaynah Robinson (14) also scored in double figures. NSU was hurt most by an eight-and-a-half minute span in the first half in which they converted just one field goal. That came after the Spartans had scored the first nine points of the game. B-CU’s 13-3 run late in the first period gave the Wildcats the lead for good.
Because Savannah State is ineligible for postseason play, the top four teams in the standings this year will get first-round MEAC tournament byes. NSU has already secured a bye, but the Spartans are eyeing a bigger prize. A top-2 finish would guarantee them not only a first-round bye, but would set NSU up for the more favorable Wednesday-Friday-Saturday schedule at the tournament.
A win on Saturday would guarantee NSU no worse than third place in the league, in part because Hampton and Morgan State, both 9-4, play each other the same day. The Spartans also close out their regular season on Monday at Hampton. In an event of a tie in the standings, the Spartans do not own the tiebreaker with Morgan State. They would not own the tiebreaker with Hampton either if it came down to that, as Hampton would have defeated Morgan State as well.
NSU would need N.C. Central to lose two of its last three games to even have a shot of sharing the regular season title. Because the Spartans are the only team not to play next Thursday, they will either have wrapped up their standing or will be doing plenty of scoreboard watching.
The Spartans have finished no worse than tied for third each of the last five years, the only program in the league to do so. NSU has also finished fourth or better in the MEAC in nine of the last 10 seasons.
• Posted 5th straight double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds at Florida A&M; Earned MEAC Player of the Week honors two days later on Feb. 20
• Has made 44-of-53 from the free throw line last 6 games, including career-best 12-of-14 at South Carolina State
• Has scored in double figures in all 28 games
• Averaging 7.7 rebounds in MEAC play
• Ranks 4th in the nation in largest increase in points per game from last year (+13.9) behind Hofstra’s Justin Wright-Foreman (+15.7), Northeastern’s T.J. Williams (+14.6) and Hawai’i’s Noah Allen (+14.2)
• Ranks 2nd in the MEAC in scoring (19.8), 3rd in defensive rebounds (5.1), 7th in field goal percentage (48.4), rebounding (6.7) and 3-point field goal percentage (39.7), 8th in minutes (34.3) and 15th in free throw percentage (74.9)
• Ranks 44th in the nation in points per game (19.8), No. 114 in minutes (34:17), No. 123 in double doubles (6), No. 150 in field goal percentage (48.4), No. 176 in defensive rebounds (5.14) and No. 239 in rebounds (6.7)
• Stands No. 585 in NCAA Division I career records in points (747)
• Ranks 5th in NSU Division I records in scoring average (19.8), free throws made (137) and free throw attempts (183), 6th in 3-point field goal percentage (39.7), 8th in points (553), 11th in field goals made (182), 12th in field goal attempts (376) and 15th in 3-point field goals (52)
• Ranks 9th all-time at NSU in 3-point field goal percentage (38.0), 12th in free throw percentage (77.2) and 20th in 3-point field goals (71)
• Averaging 17.7 points and 2.8 steals last 6 games
• Averaging 14.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals in MEAC games
• Has played at least 36 minutes in 11 of the last 13 games, including all 40 minutes in four contests and a career-high 49 at Florida A&M
• Grabbed career-high 7 rebounds at Florida A&M and had 20 points for 7th 20+ point game this year
• Has tallied 12 or more points in 12 of the last 15 games
• Ranks 1st in the MEAC in assist-turnover ratio (3.1) and steals (1.6), 4th in minutes (35.0), 5th in assists (4.4), 13th in free throw percentage (75.3) and 17th in scoring (12.9)
• Ranks 15th in the nation in assist-turnover ratio (3.05), No. 78 in minutes (34:57), No. 105 in assists (4.4) and No. 127 in steals (1.59)
• Stands No. 175 in NCAA Division I career records with 256 assists and No. 763 in points (645)
• Ranks 4th in NSU Division I records in assist average (4.41), 5th in assists (119) and 14th in 3-point field goal attempts (146)
• Ranks 16th all-time at NSU in assists (256), 17th in 3-point field goal attempts (263) and 18th in 3-point field goals (87)
• Had 5th career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds at Bethune-Cookman; 6th double-figure scoring game of season and 5th with 10+ rebounds
• Averaging 8.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in MEAC games
• Ranks 1st in the MEAC in blocks (1.8), 2nd in rebounding (7.0), 6th in defensive rebounds (4.8) and 8th in offensive rebounds (2.2)
• Ranks 50th in the nation in blocks (1.78), No. 189 in rebounds (7.0) and No. 232 in defensive rebounds (4.78) and offensive rebounds (2.22)
• Stands 23rd in NCAA Division I career records with 151 total blocks, 37th with a 1.68 blocks-per-game average, No. 198 in rebounds (489) and No. 1,059 in points (514)
• Ranks 9th in NSU Division I records in blocks (41) and 14th in rebound average (7.0)
• Ranks 3rd all-time at NSU in blocks (151)
• Has 5 blocks the last 2 games
• Ranks 2nd in the MEAC in blocks (1.4), 12th in defensive rebounds (4.0) and 15th in rebounding (5.4)
• Ranks No. 106 in the nation in blocks (1.41)
• Stands No. 1,498 in NCAA Division I career records in points (370)
• Ranks 11th in NSU Division I records in blocks (38)
• Ranks 14th all-time at NSU in blocks (73)
• Tied career high with 6 rebounds with career-best 2 steals at Bethune-Cookman
• Averaging 4.7 points on 19-of-32 shooting last 9 games and 4.8 rebounds last 5 games
• Ranks 11th in the MEAC (1.0) and No. 243 in the nation in blocks (1.00)
• Posted 6th double-digit scoring game of the season with 19 at Florida A&M, shooting career-best 5-of-10 from 3-point range
• Also had career-high 8 rebounds and tied career best with 2 blocks
• Sat out the last 14 games due to injury
• Averaging 5.0 points last 4 games and 5.5 rebounds last 2
Clean the Glass
The Spartans are +6.1 on the glass in conference games. The Spartans own a 2-10 record this year when getting outrebounded but are 12-4 when ahead or tied in the rebound column. NSU also ranks 33rd in the nation in defensive rebounds per game (27.50) and 83rd in total rebounds per game (37.71).
NSU had 66 rebounds at Florida A&M, topping the previous school Division I record of 60 set on Feb. 6 at Savannah State. Prior to that, the record had been 56 against Virginia State on Nov. 15, 2000. The Spartans were also +23 on the boards against Florida A&M, its best rebounding margin since being +23 at Coppin State on Feb. 2, 2013.
NSU was +35 on the glass during its two game road trip to Florida.
The Spartans rank first in the MEAC in blocks (5.3), with the next highest team being Hampton at 3.6. NSU also ranks second in field goal percentage defense (41.2), defensive rebounds (27.5) and defensive rebound percentage (71.8), and third in scoring margin (-2.2), 3-point field goal percentage defense (32.0) and rebound margin (+1.4).
Overall, the Spartans are averaging 73.7 points per game and shooting 44.0 percent overall against MEAC foes this year. But in the last four games, they have connected on just 39.3 percent from the floor, including 30.9 percent from 3-point range.
Play Some ‘D’
On the other side, NSU has limited the opposition to 37.5 percent shooting, including 28.5 percent from deep, during conference play. The Spartans also have an 82-54 edge in blocks.
Overall on the year, the Spartans rank 54th in the nation in field goal percentage defense (41.2) and 86th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (32.0).
NSU has had more blocks than the other team in 12 of the last 15 games and 18 of the last 23. On the year, NSU ranks 19th in the nation in blocks per game at 5.3 and 19th with 149 total blocks.
The top five seasons in NSU history in terms of total blocks have all come within the last six years, as the program has averaged 163.3 blocks per season during that time.
NSU’s current 5.3 blocks-per-game clip stands second all-time in program history behind the 5.7 average in 2010-11.
Good from Deep
NSU has 190 3-pointers this season, tied for the third-most in the program’s history.
Have Another Chance
NSU has averaged 13.8 second-chance points over the last four games while averaging 9.8 per game for the season.
Originally published at nsuspartans.com