UNC-Wilmington (6-11) at Towson (9-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 11, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SECU Arena (5,200) -- Towson, Maryland. Television: None. Home Record: UNCW 3-4, Towson 8-0. Away Record: UNCW 3-7, Towson 1-5. Neutral Record: UNCW 0-0, Towson 0-1. Conference Record: UNCW 0-2, Towson 0-0. Series Record: UNC-Wilmington leads, 16-12.
GAME NOTES: The Towson Tigers will play their first Colonial Athletic Association bout of the season on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks to SECU Arena.
UNCW was sitting at a solid 6-5 in early December but since then has been stuck in a tailspin with six consecutive losses. The Seahawks have opened up the new year with a pair of CAA losses, falling at home to James Madison last Saturday (60-55) before dropping a 79-68 overtime matchup at Northeastern on Wednesday.
Towson has been largely impressive this season, and with a win over Coppin State (81-79) in its most recent contest it improved to 9-6 overall. The Tigers have been especially strong at SECU Arena, winning all eight home games, giving them 12 straight victories in their own building dating back to last season.
Although UNCW holds a 16-12 advantage over Towson in the all-time series, the Tigers have closed the gap recently with three straight wins.
The Seahawks endured a back-and-forth contest with Northeastern earlier in the week, but after forcing overtime with a strong second half, they fell flat in the extra session to suffer the 11-point loss. They shot just 39.7 percent from the field in the setback, including only 4-of-14 from 3-point range, and they certainly didn't help themselves with a game-high 16 turnovers. Chris Dixon led the way with 15 points but did so on just 5-of-15 from the field. Freddie Jackson finished with 13 points, Cedrick Williams scored 11 and Addison Spruill netted 10 off the bench.
The poor offensive performance for UNCW was nothing new, as it shoots just 40.3 percent from the field this season for 65.5 ppg, which is 7.3 ppg fewer than it allows on the other end of the floor. Williams is the catalyst, shooting greater than 53 percent from the floor for 13.9 ppg, while adding 7.4 rpg, 2.0 bpg and 1.1 spg for good measure. Spruill is the only other player to score in double figures with 11.0 ppg on a mere 35.3 percent efficiency from the field.
The Tigers held a lead as large as 14 points in the second half on their most recent bout, but while Coppin State was able to climb back to make it just a one-possession game in the final minute, they never surrendered the advantage and held on for the two-point win, shooting 6-of-6 from the foul line in the final 22 seconds. They finished shooting 46.4 percent from the field, which included an impressive 10-of-24 showing from beyond the arc. Jerrelle Benimon was a force all over the court with 20 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks, although his nine turnovers nearly cost his team down the stretch. Marcus Damas poured in 18 points, Four McGlynn chipped in 16 points and Mike Burwell rounded out the balanced attack with 11 points and nine boards.
It was a better than average offensive output for Towson, but it has still been solid this season in putting up 73.7 ppg on nearly 46 percent from the field. It's aided greatly by owning a +7.3 advantage on the boards, but the nation's fourth-worst turnover margin (-4.8) is a cause for concern. Benimon is a double-double threat on a nightly basis with 17.7 ppg and 10.7 rpg, while Damas (11.6 ppg), Rafriel Guthrie (10.9 ppg) and McGlynn (10.1 ppg) are valuable assets.
UNCW has been trending in the wrong direction fast, and not much is expected to change against a Towson squad that has been flawless on its home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Towson 83, UNC-Wilmington 70
01/11 12:05:38 ET