North Dakota State (8-3) at Towson (4-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 15, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Towson Center (5,000) -- Towson, Maryland. Television: None. Home Record: NDSU 4-0, Towson 0-0. Away Record: NDSU 2-3, Towson 1-6. Neutral Record: NDSU 2-0, Towson 3-0. Conference Record: NDSU 1-0, Towson 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: After starting the season with 10 consecutive road contests, the Towson Tigers finally play their home opener on Saturday night against North Dakota State. It is the first meeting between these two schools on the hardwood.
Towson has lost its last two contests, against Georgetown, 46-40, a week ago, and at Temple, 72-61, on Wednesday. Jerrelle Benimon had a monster performance against the Owls as he finished with career-highs of 30 points and 18 rebounds. Marcus Damas added 11 points and three steals. Benimon, the reigning Colonial Athletic Association co-Player of the Week, has been dominant of late. He is averaging 21.8 points and 15.0 rebounds in his last four games. Freshman Jerome Hairston (9.4 ppg), Damas (8.6 ppg), Mike Burwell (8.3 ppg) and Bilal Dixon (6.4 ppg) make up the remainder of the starting five on a team that is first in the CAA in field goal percentage defense (.387). The Tigers are also limiting opponents to just 62.9 ppg, which is second in the league. Also, Towson has not lost a rebounding battle since the season opener, and has tied or out-rebounded opponents in 21 of its last 24 contests dating back to last season.
Since losing to No. 1 Indiana on Nov. 12, North Dakota State has won seven of its last nine games. The Bison fell, 70-57, at 13th-ranked Minnesota on Tuesday. Lawrence Alexander had 19 points and six assists, while Taylor Braun added 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, as North Dakota State had a three-game win streak stopped. Marshall Bjorklund contributed 12 points and six boards in the setback. Braun (15.8), Bjorklund (11.5) and Alexander (10.0) all average double figures in scoring, and Braun (6.1) is the leading rebounder on a team that is outscoring its opponents by an average of nearly 13 points a game. Mike Felt is a solid contributor off the bench and is shooting 42.3 percent from 3-point range. North Dakota State defeated CAA foe James Madison, 66-44, on Nov. 21.
Towson, which has won five of its last six home openers, will play seven of its next 11 games as the host. The Tigers are 12-2 in home openers over the last 14 years. Expect a tight battle with Benimon playing a big role in pushing the Tigers over the top. This will also mark the final home opener in the current Towson Center, as the brand new Tiger Arena is set to open in the spring and will be ready for next season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Towson 64, North Dakota State 63
12/15 10:30:26 ET