Drexel (8-5) at William & Mary (8-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 8, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kaplan Arena (8,600) -- Williamsburg, Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: Drexel 3-1, William & Mary 4-2. Away Record: Drexel 3-3, William & Mary 4-3. Neutral Record: Drexel 2-1, William & Mary 0-0. Conference Record: Drexel 0-0, William & Mary 0-0. Series Record: Drexel leads, 19-9.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams with identical records will get their Colonial Athletic Association schedules underway on Wednesday night, as the Drexel Dragons take on the William & Mary Tribe at Kaplan Arena.
Even though Drexel is 8-5, just like William & Mary, the Dragons have ben stumbling of late with losses in three of their last four games. The most recent letdown was a 66-49 decision to Southern Miss on the road, where Drexel has split six bouts. The team will be back home on Saturday to host Northeastern.
As for William & Mary, the last two times out have yielded victories, as have four of the last five contests overall, the most recent of which being a 78-67 victory over Western Illinois this past Saturday. The Tribe were a solid 4-2 at home during their non-league schedule. Up next is a trip to Delaware.
Both of these teams were near the middle of the CAA pack last season, with Drexel finishing 9-9 in league play and William & Mary at 7-11. Drexel won the only meeting between the two squads with a 59-48 road triumph. It was the fourth straight win for the Dragons and pushed their edge in the all-time series to 19-9.
The Dragons failed to get many of their shots to fall in their recent loss to Southern Miss, as they shot just 38.3 percent from the floor, although eight of their 18 field goals came from beyond the arc. Tavon Allen tallied 15 points as one of two players to reach double figures.
Drexel's strength is not at the offensive end. It is holding teams to 66.2 ppg and 40.8 percent shooting when backed up on defense. However, that defensive effort is sometimes not enough, with the Dragons only netting 67.7 ppg and connecting on 41.5 percent of their total shots. Chris Fouch (16.8 ppg) is the leading scorer on the roster, but he suffers from some erratic shooting, knocking down only 39.1 percent from the floor. Against Southern Miss, he produced 13 points, but on just 5-of-13 shooting. Frantz Massenat (14.6 ppg, 4.5 apg) makes up for his poor shooting (.384) to a degree by leading the team in assists. Allen (12.6 ppg) is the third member of the unit scoring in double figures.
With Tim Rusthoven out due to an illness, Marcus Thornton threw the Tribe on his back in their recent win over Western Illinois. Thornton scored 25 points and had six assists to match six rebounds in carrying William & Mary, which knocked down 12-of-24 attempts from beyond the arc in the victory.
Thornton (19.5 ppg) is more than capable of shouldering the bulk of the offensive load, as he leads the CAA in scoring. Seeing him be more of a playmaker was perhaps an even better sign, as he is only averaging 2.8 apg. Rusthoven (13.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is one of only three members of the W&M roster scoring more than 7.5 ppg, so his absence cannot be endured for long. He is still listed as questionable. Omar Prewitt (14.1 ppg, 5 rpg) provides a nice second option off the bench as a knockdown shooter and an effective rebounder.
Much of this game hinges on whether Rusthoven can play. The Tribe will need every advantage it can get against the strong backcourt trio of Massenat, Lee and Fouch, who will force the ball out of Thornton's hands as much as possible.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Drexel 68, William & Mary 64
01/08 10:36:36 ET