South Carolina State (6-23) vs. Morgan State (14-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, March 11, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Norfolk Scope Arena (10,253) -- Norfolk, Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: South Carolina State 5-9, Morgan State 5-4. Away Record: South Carolina State 1-14, Morgan State 8-9. Neutral Record: South Carolina State 0-0, Morgan State 1-1. Conference Record: South Carolina State 2-14, Morgan State 10-6. Series Record: South Carolina State, 39-31.
GAMES NOTES: In the night cap of the opening round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament the fifth-seed Morgan State Bears will tangle with the 12th-seed South Carolina State Bulldogs at Norfolk Scope Arena.
It wasn't a particularly strong season for South Carolina State which enters the postseason with a record of just 6-23 overall, including a 2-14 mark against conference foes. The Bulldogs did manage to grab a 62-60 win in the regular season finale which ended a five-game slide for the Bulldogs. It has really been a down year for the team as South Carolina State's five conference titles and 42 wins in Tournament play both rank second among current members.
Morgan State really picked up a ton of momentum down the stretch as it resurrected its season with wins in five straight games and eight of the last nine to close out the regular season. The Bears were able to move to .500 overall on the season (14-14) and a healthy 10-6 record against league foes.
When these teams met up back on Jan. 12 the Bears rolled to a 76-60 win on their home floor. Morgan State has won five straight and 10 of the last 11 games with the Bulldogs. South Carolina State leads the all-time series though, 39-31.
South Carolina State got 21 points from Matthew Hezekiah and 19 from Khalif Toombs as it held off Delaware State for just its sixth win in the regular season finale. The Bulldogs had 10 more field goal attempts than the Hornets while holding a 44-20 edge on points in the paint.
Hezekiah (12.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Toombs (12.3 ppg, 5.4 apg) are a solid inside-outside combination for the Bulldogs. Hezekiah shoots at a 55.9 percent clip and is among one of the top five rebounders in the conference. Toombs is not nearly as efficient in shooting the ball as he connects on just 35.9 percent from the field, but the 5-foot-9 guard is second in the league assists. As a team the Bulldogs are scoring just over 60 points per game while shooting at a paltry 39.3 percent from the field. Defensively the Bulldogs let up more than 70 points per game while ranking third in the league in rebounds (36.2 pg).
Morgan State went up against Florida A&M in its regular-season finale and came away with a 78-67 victory. Justin Black scored 20 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead four players in double figures for the Bears. Morgan State had a 41-26 edge on the boards in the contest, while scoring 20 points on 17 turnovers from Florida A&M.
Led by the backcourt duo of Black (14.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.0 apg) and Dewayne Jackson (13.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) the Bears have been the best offensive team in the MEAC this year. The Bears rank first in the league in points scored (67.9 pg) while fitting in second in assists (13 pg) and field goal percentage (.446). Despite holding foes to just 40.8 percent shooting the Bears own a scoring margin of just +1.7. Morgan State is also a strong rebounding squad, ranking second among MEAC teams on the boards (37.1 rpg). Anthony Hubbard (11.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Ian Chiles (9.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg) lead the way on the boards, while providing scoring options in the frontcourt.
The offensive firepower for the Bears powered by the backcourt tandem of Black and Jackson will be far too much for the Bulldogs. Expect Morgan State to march on to the next round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Morgan State 68, South Carolina State 58
03/11 10:32:38 ET