VMI (15-11) at Morgan State (12-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 19th, 4:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Talmadge L. Hill Field House (4,250) -- Baltimore, Maryland. Television: none. Home Record: VMI 10-5, Morgan State 7-2. Away Record: VMI 5-5, Morgan State 3-7. Neutral Record: VMI 0-1, Morgan State 2-1. Conference Record: VMI 8-8, Morgan State 8-3. Series Record: First- ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Riding a three-game win streak, the VMI Keydets will take their act to Hill Field House for a matchup with the Morgan State Bears, as part of the BracketBusters weekend event.
VMI last played on Tuesday night, in a 79-69 victory over Liberty. The Keydets' third straight win moved them to an even 8-8 in Big South Conference play, and into a virtual tie with Charleston Southern and Winthrop for the No. 4 seed in the Big South Tournament.
Morgan State hasn't played since Valentine's Day, when it downed conference rival South Carolina State, 72-66, to earn its second straight victory and move to 8-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference standings.
With regards to the all-time series, today matchup marks the first-ever meeting between VMI and Morgan State.
Freshman center D.J. Covington has been the catalyst in the Keydets' recent surge. He scored a career-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in the team's 87-74 win over High Point on Feb. 10th. Against Radford, on Feb. 12th, Covington netted eight points, including six straight over a crucial 16-2 Keydets charge, which led to a 71-58 victory. The young big man received Big South Freshman of the Week honors on Monday, and on Tuesday, posted a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards in VMI's 79-69 win over Liberty. For all of Covington's production, however, Austin Kenon proved to be the main spark Tuesday night, as he scored a career-high 39 points on 13-of-23 shooting, including 8-of-16 from three-point range, while grabbing eight boards and handing out four assists. With the game hanging in the balance, Kenon hit five straight three-pointers, scoring 15 consecutive VMI points to lead the team to victory. Kenon is now scoring 18.1 ppg, while Stan Okoye adds 17.2 ppg to lead the Keydets to a staggering 89.9 ppg on the season. They allow 83 ppg on the defensive end of the floor.
As one of the MEAC-leaders, Morgan State appeared to be a lock Monday night as it took on hapless South Carolina State, who entered the game with a 2-9 league mark. The Gamecocks proved to be anything but a pushover, however, taking the Bears to the wire. It took 17 points from DeWayne Jackson, including a crucial late-game three-pointer to down pesky South Carolina State. Regardless of the opponent, Morgan State showed determination, responding to a 40-32 halftime deficit with a 14-3 second half run. Ameer Ali tallied 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting for the Bears, while Kevin Thompson added 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Jackson continues to pace Morgan State on the year, as he averages 15.1 ppg, while Thompson continues to be a solid contributor, as he ranks second on the team in scoring (12.3 ppg) and first in rebounding (8.5 rpg). Aric Brooks scores 11.2 ppg, as the Bears average 68.4 ppg, while giving up 70 ppg.
Regardless of the conference, any team that scores close to 90 ppg is a threat on any given night. Expect the Keydets to ride their explosive offensive to a win tonight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: VMI 85, Morgan State 75
02/19 10:31:37 ET