GAME NOTES: Two teams still searching for their first wins of the season hit the hardwood in Sin City on Friday, as the Florida A&M Rattlers combat the Longwood Lancers as part of the Las Vegas Invitational at Orleans Arena.
Longwood, now a member of the Big South Conference, has been beaten and bruised over the first four games of the campaign, allowing a staggering 94.0 ppg to this point. In the first two games of this tournament, on campus sites, the Lancers were crushed by Arkansas, 112-63, and also dominated by 12th- ranked Creighton three days ago in a 105-57 final.
As for the Rattlers, their road to Nevada has also been paved with failed efforts. Setbacks against Houston and Stetson were followed by a 97-70 blowout by Arizona State in Tempe in the first round of this event on Nov. 18 and then two days later the squad was topped by Arkansas in Fayetteville in an 89-60 final.
The winner of this first-ever meeting will take on the winner of the Cornell/Presbyterian outing, with the losers also matching up on Saturday.
The Rattlers fell behind Arkansas immediately in the last outing and never recovered, shooting just 31.7 percent from the floor and 7-of-20 behind the three-point line, not to mention a mere 13-of-23 at the free-throw line while also turning the ball over 22 times. Reggie Lewis managed to put up 15 points to lead the team followed by Muhammad Abdul-Aleem with 14 off the bench and Jamari Bradshaw 13 points and seven rebounds, Before fouling out, Markee Teal captured 14 rebounds to lead in that category. Jamie Adams stands as the top scorer through four games for A&M, producing 14.3 ppg, but he's connected on an awful 30.0 percent of his field goal chances and just 23.3 percent behind the three-point line. While the Rattlers have nailed down just 31.2 percent of their shots from long distance, the competition has been far more successful in that department with 44.9 percent accuracy.
To say that the Lancers had their hands full against Creighton on the road would be an understatement as the Jays nearly outscored the visitors with just their first-half output, leading by a 53-24 margin at the break. Longwood made a total of just 22 field goals, including 3-of-16 behind the three-point line. While it would not have made nearly enough of a difference, the Lancers also shot 10-of-18 at the free-throw line as well. Jeylani Dublin tried to keep the meeting somewhat respectable as he scored 19 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Tristan Carey tacked on 14 points, but he shot just 1-of-6 on the perimeter. Michael Kessens, who lasted only 14 minutes and score two points before fouling out against Creighton, still leads the team in scoring overall with his 11.8 ppg, although Carey has now caught up and is dropping the same number through four games. Even with Kessens connecting on 60 percent from the field, the team overall is at just 37.2 percent at the moment.
Both of these teams have been heavily overmatched until today, so as long as Kessens can keep himself out of trouble the Lancers might have their best shot at a win.