James Madison (8-14) at Towson (14-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, February 4, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SECU Arena (5,200) -- Towson, Maryland. Television: CSN-MA, PHL, NE, CSS. Home Record: JMU 2-4, Towson 11-1. Away Record: JMU 4-8, Towson 3-6. Neutral Record: JMU 2-2, Towson 0-1. Conference Record: JMU 3-5, Towson 5-2. Series Record: James Madison leads, 27-11.
GAME NOTES: Like every other team in the Colonial Athletic Association, the Towson Tigers continue to hunt down front-running Delaware as they entertain the James Madison Dukes tonight at SECU Arena.
Enjoying the spoils of their new arena, the Tigers have rattled off 11 wins in 12 chances in the building, one of those triumphs coming on Saturday versus Drexel by a scant two points, 75-73. The victory was the second straight for the team, now 5-3 in conference play and in second place.
Further down in the CAA is JMU which came up short versus William & Mary at home on Sunday afternoon, 81-79. The loss snapped a brief two-game win streak for the squad and sent the Dukes to 3-5 in the CAA.
As far as an all-time series between the teams is concerned, the Dukes are ahead by a count of 27-11 dating back to 1979. JMU has won five of the last six encounters, although the one setback during the run took place last season as the Tigers thoroughly beat up on the visitors, 73-47, in Maryland.
A little more than three weeks from now the Dukes are slated to host Towson at the JMU Convocation Center.
Andrey Semenov converted 5-of-8 shots behind the 3-point line as he finished with 23 points, adding a game-high eight rebounds for the Dukes, but they still came up with the narrow loss to W&M two days ago in Harrisonburg. Andre Nation chipped in 18 points, Charles Cooke 15 and Ron Curry 11 points and a game-high nine assists. Curry was fouled on 3-point attempt with 2.5 seconds remaining and the Dukes trailing by four. He knocked down the first two of his chances at the free-throw line to cut the JMU deficit to just two points at 81-79, but he missed the third shot on purpose and a follow-up attempt by the hosts was short at the buzzer.
Nation, who has appeared in just seven of the team's 22 games this season, is listed as the top scorer in terms of average with 16.6 ppg, but over the long haul it is Cooke who has been the most productive with 14.7 ppg, even if he is shooting just 29.6 percent from 3-point range. Semenov and Curry check in with 11.5 and 11.3 ppg, respectively, for a program that is generating a mere 62.3 ppg at the moment.
Jerrelle Benimon accounted for 25 points and eight rebounds, both of which were team highs for Towson, as the Tigers slipped by Drexel at home by just two points over the weekend. Rafriel Guthrie pitched in with 18 points in 28 minutes off the bench, followed by Marcus Damas with 16 points for a squad that shot 57.5 percent from the field and 26-of-31 at the free-throw line in order to secure the win.
As of last week Benimon was tied for the nation's lead in double-doubles, sporting 14, and is currently one of only a handful of players who is averaging a double-double with his 18.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per contest. But more than that, Benimon is also first on the Tigers in both assists (84) and blocked shots (35) as well, a rarity in college basketball these days. Damas (12.5 ppg) and Guthrie (11.4 ppg) also have a hand in the offense, but this is a team that lives and dies with the exploits of Benimon.
The Dukes will have a hard time matching up with Benimon, just like so many opponents do, but in addition there will be the issue of overcoming the Towson crowd in a building that has not been too favorable for visitors this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Towson 71, James Madison 65
02/04 10:49:29 ET