Men’s Basketball Heads to Loyola, Puts Perfect 10-0 Patriot League Record on the Line
Teams: American (14-7, 10-0 PL) at Loyola (9-12, 4-6 PL)
Date and Location: Wed., Feb. 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m.– Reitz Arena – Baltimore, Md.
Series: 82nd meeting; AU leads 43-38
Last Meeting: W, 65-51– Washington, D.C. (Jan. 8, 2014)
Radio: Federal News Radio 1050AM – Dan Laing (play-by-play), Jeremy Huber (analyst)
After going the entire month of January without a loss, American University men's basketball opened February with a victory to stretch its win streak to 11 games; the ninth longest in the nation. The Eagles put its streak and an undefeated 10-0 Patriot League record on the line, Wednesday night at Loyola.
Fans around the world can watch the Patriot League Network stream online via their desktop, tablet or mobile device. Eagles enthusiasts in the D.C.-metro area can also listen to the broadcast on Federal News Radio 1050AM with Dan Laing and Jeremy Huber on the call.
It will be the 82nd ever meeting between the two foes with American holding a 43-38 series advantage, dating back to 1927. AU trailed by four at the half in the first ever Patriot League matchup back in January, but the Eagles shot 81 percent from the field in the second half to secure the victory.
AU continues its program best mark, opening the Patriot League slate 10-0 under first-year head coach Mike Brennan, becoming only the fifth league team to do so. In addition to the greatest start in Patriot League history for the Eagles, it is the best start in conference play for AU since the 1980-81 season when then head coach Gary Williams led American to a perfect 11-0 mark in ECC play and a 24-6 overall record.
Only two teams in Patriot League history have started 10-0 in league play: Bucknell (2006) and Fordham (1991). With a win on Wednesday, Brennan would tie Fordham's Nick Macarchuk as the only coaches to win their first 11 conference games.
The Eagles are riding the ninth-longest winning streak in the nation and are one of 11 teams in Division I with an undefeated conference record. AU is also one of only four schools with 10-0 records in league play.
Thanks to the AU's streak of 38-straight days without a loss, American has received a vote in the NCAA Division I men's basketball AP Top 25 poll for a second consecutive week. The Eagles join 12 other programs that are earning votes. 11 schools garnered multiple votes, while AU joins one other team with one selection. It is the first time since the 2008-09 season that American has earned a vote in the AP poll.
American's defensive unit ranks 12th in the nation, holding opponents to 60.2 points per game this season. While the Eagles have been staunch without the basketball all season long, the AU offense has now caught up to its prowess on D, and ranks second in country in team field goal percentage (.506). The so-called "Princeton Offense" has been on full display as well as AU is also 27th in the NCAA with 15.7 assists per game.
The Greyhounds wrap a brief two-game homestand, hosting the Eagles on Wednesday. Loyola has one win (home vs. Colgate) in its last five games, but all four losses have come against teams in top five of the Patriot League standings.
Senior guard Dylon Cormier continues to lead the Loyola offense, ranking 12th in the nation with 21.2 points per game. He is also the teams leading rebounder at 5.8 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Jarred Jones is second on the team with 8.4 ppg and 4.2 rpg. Junior point guard R.J. Williams rounds out the backcourt trio for the Greyhounds with 8.0 ppg and team highs with 4.4 assists per game and 2.5 steals per game.
Head coach G.G. Smith is in his first season as the head men's basketball coach at Loyola. Smith, the son of current Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith, has been an assistant at Loyola for the past six years under former coach Jimmy Patsos. Smith is the 20th head coach in Greyhound history and take the reins of a program that has won 62 games over the last three seasons.
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AU's 71.4 FG% against Boston U. just missed the all-time Patriot League record of 71.7%, while the Eagles 78.6% 3-PT would have been the record but Bucknell hit 80% against Lafayette only three weeks ago.
This year, American boasts four players in double digit scoring as sophomore Jesse Reed leads the way with 13.9 ppg. Junior John Schoof is just behind Reed's lead with 12.9. Following the dynamic duo is senior center Tony Wroblicky and junior point guard Darius "Pee Wee" Gardner, who are averaging 12.2 and 11.3 ppg, respectively.
Wroblicky etched his name into the American record book again, recording his 500th career rebound at Holy Cross, becoming the 28th player in program history to do so. The fourth-year center became the fifth player ever in AU history to reach 100 blocks earlier this season and now ranks second all-time with 134 career rejections, one behind the all –time leader, Stephen Lumpkins '13.
This season, the Eagles boast three true iron men, as Gardner, Schoof and Reed each average over 33 minutes per game. Gardner is top amongst Patriot League players and 10th in the nation with 37.3 mpg, while Schoof is just behind at 36.2, ranking 30th among DI schools. Reed checks in at 33.2 mpg. Gardner is tied for the national lead, playing every minute in 12 games this season.
After 12 of its first 16 games on the road this season, AU finally returns home for an extended stretch. American plays six of eight game inside the friendly confines of Bender Arena. The contests at Army and at Loyola in near-by Baltimore, Md., are AU's road tilts.
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The Eagles return to Bender Arena this Saturday, Feb. 8, hosting Colgate at 2 p.m.