Teams: American (15-11, 11-4 PL) vs. Army (13-13, 9-6 PL)
Date and Location: Sat., Feb. 22, 2014, 2 p.m.– Bender Arena – Washington, D.C.
Series: 32nd meeting; AU leads 25-6
Last Meeting: W, 84-74– Wes Point, N.Y. (Jan. 25, 2014)
TV: Comcast Washington Plus (CSN+) – Jon Laaser (play-by-play), Brooks Berry (analyst)
Web Video: Patriot League Network – Dan Laing (play-by-play), Jeremy Huber (analyst)
Tickets - limited number of seats still available
American University men's basketball returns to Bender Arena on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m., after two straight games on the road. The Eagles host Army in a game televised live on Comcast Washington Plus (CSN+).
Fans in the D.C.-metro area can tune in to watch the broadcast on the CSN family of networks with Jon Laaser and Brooks Berry on the call, while Eagle enthusiasts around the world can watch the Patriot League Network stream online via their desktop, tablet or mobile device, with Dan Laing and Jeremy Huber calling the action.
It is the 32nd meeting between the two schools and second in just under month in a rivalry that dates back to 1963. Although Army doubled its win total against the Eagles last season, AU won in Christl Arena, 84-74, this year. The Black Knights have only won once inside Bender Arena.
In the first matchup this season, four Eagles scored in double-digit points as junior John Schoof and sophomore Jesse Reed each topped 20 points. Senior center Tony Wroblicky was just shy of the mark at 19.
American's offense continues to be one of the most efficient units in the country as AU ranks third in the nation in field goal percentage (.502), upping that number to .519 in conference games. The Eagles are also 34th in assists per game (15.4), dishing out 16.4 against league foes – all conference best.
American forces its pace of play on opponents, ranking 15th nationally allowing only 60.7 ppg, 60.1 in Patriot League games.
AU also boasts a +7.5 scoring margin in conference games, second best in the league, while knocking down 100-of-235 (.426) attempts from 3-point range, the highest mark in the Patriot League.
American opened the Patriot League slate with at 10-0 record, its best start in program history. The Eagles were one win shy of tying the all-time best start in the Patriot League record book and the best conference start in AU history when in the1980-81 season, then head coach Gary Williams led American to a perfect 11-0 mark in ECC play and a 24-6 overall record. During the streak, AU twice received a vote in the AP Top 25 poll, its first since the 2008-09 season.
Much like the Eagles, the Black Knights have hit a rough patch as of late, finally breaking out of their funk with a 74-66 win at home versus Colgate on Wednesday. Prior to the victory, Army had lost three straight and five of their past seven.
Sophomore guard and reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Year Kyle Wilson continues to be one of the conference's premier scorers, coming off a career high 29 points in the win against the Raiders. Wilson paces Army with 18.6 ppg while hitting a team-high 53 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Tanner Plomb, the Black Knight's second-leading scorer with 11.3 ppg is out indefinitely with an appendectomy. The scoring burden then falls to point guard Dylan Cox (9.3 ppg, 2.8 apg) and center Kevin Ferguson (8.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg).
Since taking the reins of the Army men's basketball program in 2009, Zach Spiker has taken the program to heights not seen in nearly three decades at West Point. The 2013 Patriot League Coach of the Year, Spiker is one of just four Army coaches to win at least 50 games in their first four seasons, joining Bobby Knight, Mike Krzyzewski and George Hunter.
More on the Eagles
With only thre games remaining in the regular season, the Eagles have clinched a first round bye in the Patriot League Tournament, and home court advantage in the Quarterfinal round. AU will host a playoff game in the second round on Wednesday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m. With a win Saturday and a Holy Cross loss to Navy on Sunday, AU clinches at least the No. 2-seed in the playoffs.
AU has reached 11 Patriot League wins for the first time since the 2010-11 season and only the third time in its 13 years in the conference. It is also the eighth time in program history the Eagles have reached 11 conference wins, dating back to 1927.
This year, American boasts four players in double digit scoring as Reed leads the way with 14.0 ppg. Wroblicky and Schoof are just behind Reed's lead with 12.3. Following the terrific trio is redshirt junior do-it-all point guard Darius "Pee Wee" Gardner who averages11.7 ppg and team highs with 4.5 apg and 36.8 mpg.
Reed has been locked in offensively, especially from 3-point range. He leads the Patriot League and ranks eighth in the nation from deep, knocking down nearly half of his attempts (52-of-105, .496%).
Wroblicky, who etched his name into the American record book, recording his 500th career rebound at Holy Cross, is now one of only 18 players at AU to hit the 600-rebound plateau (617). The fourth-year center also became the fifth player ever in AU history to reach 100 blocks earlier this season and now owns the all-time career rejections record at 143. The big man also surpassed his own single-season record for block, swatting 53 this season.
This year, the Eagles boast four true iron men, as Gardner, Schoof, Reed and Wroblicky each average over 30 minutes per game. Gardner is top amongst Patriot League players and 17th in the nation with 36.8 mpg, while Schoof is second in the conference at 36.7, ranking 18h among DI schools. Reed checks in at 34.3 mpg, while Wroblicky now hit 30.6 mpg.
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.
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The Eagles play on the road for the final time in the regular season, traveling East to Annapolis, Md., to take on the Navy Midshipmen on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.