James Madison (5-9) at UNC-Wilmington (6-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Trask Coliseum (5,500) -- Wilmington, North Carolina. Television: None. Home Record: JMU 1-1, UNCW 3-3. Away Record: JMU 3-6, UNCW 3-6. Neutral Record: JMU 1-2, UNCW 0-0. Conference Record: JMU 0-0, UNCW 0-0. Series Record: UNC-Wilmington leads, 33-31.
GAME NOTES: The James Madison Dukes and UNC-Wilmington Seahawks will each play not only their first game of the new year, but their first in Colonial Athletic Association action this season when they meet at Trask Coliseum on Saturday night.
The Dukes ended the 2013 calendar year on a high note, defeating Ball State, 73-68, last Monday. The victory was the third in four games for James Madison, which is still just 5-9 overall, thanks in part to a miserable 3-6 road record. The Dukes will get another chance to improve on that mark away from home when they take on the College of Charleston this Tuesday.
UNC-Wilmington is hoping to begin 2014 better than it ended 2013. The Seahawks lost their last four games, including an 84-51 rout at the hands on North Carolina on New Year's Eve. The losing streak has dropped them to 6-9 overall, although they have won as many games at home as they have lost (3-3). UNCW takes to the road to face Northeastern next.
Fans of these two teams have been able to enjoy a rather competitive conference rivalry over the years. UNC-Wilmington owns a a slim, 33-31, edge in the all-time series, although James Madison won both meetings last season.
In the win over Ball State, James Madison made up for a 37-28 deficit on the boards by netting an even 50 percent of its shots from the floor. That was just enough to top the Cardinals, who committed 19 turnovers. Charles Cooke and Ron Curry combined for 37 points and 10 assists in the win.
Matt Brady had to have been pleased with how well his team executed offensively in that victory. Normally his unit is netting just 63 ppg and shooting 41.7 percent from the floor. In fact, no other team in the CAA is scoring fewer points per game than the Dukes. Cooke (15.2 ppg) and Curry (12.8 ppg) team up as the top scoring options on a team which has very few. Andrew Semenov (11.5 ppg) is another scoring threat, although he connects on just 37.2 percent of his total shots. The club's offensive options dwindle from there, with only two other players putting in more than six points per game.
UNC-Wilmington found itself on the short end of just about every statistical category against North Carolina. The Seahawks were outscored in the paint (48-30), off turnovers (25-13), and in second-chance points (29-19). The only thing the Seahawks did top the Tar Heels in was turnovers (17-16).
The list of reliable scorers for UNCW is also decidedly short. The Seahawks are only netting 66.2 ppg, while ranking last in the conference in shooting percentage (.404). They also have only two players averaging in double figures. Leading the way is Cedrick Williams (14.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg), who is coming off an 18-point showing against North Carolina, and he also anchors the team on the glass. Addison Spruill (11.3 ppg) is the other double-digit scorer, but he is only shooting 35.3 percent from the field.
Offense is sure to be in short supply in this matchup. The Dukes have a bit more momentum than the Seahawks, but UNCW has the advantage of playing at home. Expect a tight contest that should come down to the final minutes.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: James Madison 69, UNC-Wilmington 65
01/04 10:45:10 ET