Belmont (4-1) vs. Holy Cross (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mohegan Sun Arena (9,518) -- Uncasville, Connecticut. Television: None. Home Record: Belmont 2-0, Holy Cross 1-0. Away Record: Belmont 2-1, Holy Cross 1-1. Neutral Record: Belmont 0-0, Holy Cross 0-1. Conference Record: Belmont 0-0, Holy Cross 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The first-ever meeting between the Belmont Bruins and the Holy Cross Crusaders takes place on a neutral floor tonight, as the teams battle in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
Belmont is off to a solid start in 2013-14 with four wins in five opportunities, the lone setback coming against Richmond on the road 12 days ago. Since then the Bruins have ripped off three consecutive wins, the latest being a 94-64 romp over Lipscomb, the second such matchup between the two programs in a span of less than two weeks. The latest win over the Bison extended Belmont's home win streak to an NCAA-best 22 in a row.
As for the Crusaders, they are an even 2-2 in the early going, alternating wins and losses. The team bounced back from a disappointing 62-54 setback against 12th-ranked North Carolina a week ago yesterday by downing Fairfield, 63-49, on the road this past Wednesday.
Both teams will be back in action on Sunday, matching up against Hartford and Hofstra, based on the outcomes on Saturday.
Evan Badds came off the bench to tally 19 points and eight rebounds in only 20 minutes of action versus Lipscomb, one of five players in double-digit scoring for Belmont earlier this week. JJ Mann pitched in with 17 points, Craig Bradshaw 16, followed by Drew Windler and Nick Smith with 13 and 10 points, respectively. The Bruins shot an impressive 56.5 percent from the floor and held the visitors to just 33.9 percent.
Except for the loss to Richmond, the Bruins have scored at least 83 points in every game thus far, leading to 84.2 ppg. The squad is shooting 50.4 percent from the floor and is picking up slightly better than 21 ppg at the free-throw line, but at the same time the defense is allowing 78.2 ppg. Mann (18.6 ppg), Windler (15.0 ppg) and Reece Chamberlain (10.8 ppg) are all key figures for the Bruins in their own unique ways.
The defensive effort against the Stags was the best of the season thus far, limiting Fairfield to just 33.3 percent shooting from the field and 30.4 percent behind the 3-point line. Taking charge on offense for Holy Cross were Cullen Hamilton and Malachi Alexander who both cashed in with 13 points as the squad knocked down a solid 47.9 percent from the field and turned the ball over just 10 times.
Hamilton and Alexander are two of the three double-digit scorers for the Crusaders at this juncture, averaging 16.3 and 14.0 ppg, respectively, the former hitting on a team-best 42.9 percent beyond the arc and the latter converting 51.5 percent from the field and 20-of-25 at the charity stripe. Standing above the duo on the scoring list is Dave Dudzinski with his 17.3 ppg, his 8.0 rpg also pacing the group. However, having the ball in Dudzinski's hands is not always a positive experience, seeing as how he has turned the ball over 14 times and has but three assists.
Belmont might have four wins in five tries, but the opponents in those meetings were all far below the caliber of squads that the Bruins have been accustomed to defeating in recent years. With that said, Holy Cross certainly stands a good chance of coming out on top in this meeting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Holy Cross 76, Belmont 72
11/23 10:33:06 ET