Saint Joseph's (17-7) at Rhode Island (11-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 19, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas M. Ryan Center (7,657) -- Kingston, Rhode Island. Television: OSN. Home Record: SJU 9-3, URI 8-5. Away Record: SJU 6-3, URI 2-10. Neutral Record: SJU 2-1, URI 1-0. Conference Record: SJU 7-3, URI 2-9. Series Record: Saint Joseph's leads, 51-26.
GAME NOTES: Rhode Island tries to bring an end to a five-game slide tonight, as the Rams host the Saint Joseph's Hawks in Atlantic 10 Conference action at the Ryan Center.
URI has not won consecutive games since taking down Brown and LSU to kick off the new calendar year. In fact, the team has won just two games since that victory versus the Tigers, the most recent of those being an 88-76 final over Dayton last month. On Saturday, Rhode Island lost yet again at home, this time to Duquesne, by a score of 83-71 and now the program is just 2-9 in conference play.
Meanwhile, the Hawks seem to be building momentum at just the right times, defeating cross-town rival La Salle over the weekend in a 75-64 decision. The win was the second straight and the fourth in five games and now the program is 7-3 in conference.
The Hawks have won two straight meetings against URI and currently lead the all-time series by a count of 51-26. Saint Joseph's posted a 61-57 victory at home last month in the first meeting of the campaign.
The Hawks paid a visit to Tom Gola Arena this past Saturday for the first time in nearly 13 years and used the opportunity to put all five starters in double figures in the double-digit win. Langston Galloway led the way with 18 points, followed by DeAndre' Bembry who bounced back from a scoreless first half to tally 16 points. Ronald Roberts was responsible for 15 points, while Halil Kanacevic and Chris Wilson put up 10 points apiece, the former also responsible for six rebounds, six assists and four blocked shots.
Galloway may be the focus of the offense for the Hawks with his 16.6 ppg, shooting an impressive 42.9 percent from 3-point range, but it is hard to ignore how well Kanacevic has played in so many phases of the game. The big man may not be the most electrifying performer on the scoreboard with 10.9 ppg, but he is a very rare breed who not only leads his team in rebounding with 8.6 rpg, he is also by far the most unselfish player for the Hawks with 108 assists as well.
The Rams made good on not only 60 percent of their field goals in the second half of their meeting with Duquesne at home on Saturday, they also connected on 5-of-7 behind the 3-point line, but they certainly didn't help themselves with just 8-of-15 shooting at the free-throw line over the final 20 minutes of action. E.C. Matthews tried to give the hosts a fighting chance with his game- high 32 points, followed by Xavier Munford with 16 points and six assists, but it wasn't enough.
Currently averaging 13.5 ppg, Matthews has tallied at least 22 points in each of the last three games and five times in the last six he has posted no less than 20, but he also has games where his offense just disappears. Against VCU a couple weeks ago he accounted for just five points and last month he was held to only four by this same Saint Joseph's squad and you better believe he and the Hawks remember that effort.
If Matthews can put together a solid effort this time out the Rams might have a fighting chance, but to slow down all of the offensive threats for the Hawks and the manner in which Kanacevic can damage foes in so many ways, the visitors just seem to be too tough again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Joseph's 77, Rhode Island 63
02/19 10:35:17 ET