William & Mary (5-23) at Virginia Military (12-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 18th, 1:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cameron Hall (5,800) -- Lexington, Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: WMM 3-8, VMI 10-1. Away Record: WMM 2-13, VMI 1-13. Neutral Record: WMM 0-2, VMI 1-0. Conference Record: WMM 3-13, VMI 7-9. Series Record: William & Mary leads, 76-39.
GAME NOTES: BracketBuster action is on tap in Lexington this afternoon as the Big South's Virginia Military Keydets play host to a familiar foe with the Colonial Athletic Association's William & Mary Tribe invading Cameron Hall.
The Tribe have struggled through an awful campaign thus far, as the team is a miserable 5-23 overall. The CAA slate has been just as frustrating, with William & Mary hovering just above the conference cellar at 3-13. The Tribe ended a nine-game losing streak last weekend with a 79-54 rout of Northeastern, but found themselves right back in the loss column three days later with a 63-61 road loss at Drexel.
A Big South Conference title has long been out of the picture for the Keydets as well, as the team has had its own struggles remaining competitive. VMI two games under .500 both overall (12-14) and in-conference (7-9) and enters this contest with a three-game losing streak in tow following Tuesday's 78-69 road loss at Liberty.
This marks the 115th meeting in a series that dates back to the 1914-15 season. These two teams were long time members of the Southern Conference (1936-1977). The Tribe are visiting Cameron Hall for the first time since 1995.
The Tribe took CAA-leading Drexel to the limit this week, but failed to deliver on the road in a two-point loss. William & Mary played well at both ends of the floor in the game, shooting 49 percent overall, including a solid 7-of-15 from behind the arc. The Tribe also only committed nine turnovers in the game and placed four players in double figures. Marcus Thornton led the team with 13 points. Brandon Britt was right behind with 12, while Tim Rusthoven and Kendrix Brown tallied 11 points apiece.
One look at William & Mary's scoring margin (-9.7) and it is easy to see why the team has failed to win much. The team has had its share of shooting woes this season, converting a mere 40.3 percent from the floor, leading to a meager 60.1 ppg. Quinn McDowell is shooting under 40 percent from the floor, but paces the team with 12.4 ppg. Thornton has also struggled with his shot (.379), but adds 11.6 ppg. Rusthoven converts 52 percent of the time and averages 10.1 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds per game.
VMI has had no problems at the offensive end of the floor, ranking fourth nationally in scoring at 81.7 ppg. The problem is that the Keydets are a turnstyle at the defensive end, yielding 83.7 ppg (337th in the nation). Keith Gabriel and Stan Okoye are a potent one-two punch, as Gabriel is second in the Big South in scoring at 18.2 ppg, while Okoye is third in the conference at 17.4 ppg.
The Keydets fell into an early hole against Liberty this week and despite a strong run late, VMI could not earn the road win. Okoye found his way back on the court from a recent injury and paced the team with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Ron Burks added 13 points to the cause, while Gabriel chipped in with 12.
The Keydets have the more dynamic offensive weapons in this one and get to play the game on their home floor. The Tribe have played well of late may not have the personnel capable of taking advantage of VMI's porous defensive play.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Military 74, William & Mary 70
02/18 10:50:30 ET
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