Jan. 24, 2006
THE STORYLINE: American travels to Annapolis, Md., on Wednesday, hoping to return to .500 in the Patriot League, after dropping a road contest at Holy Cross on Saturday. Although the Midshipmen hold a 33-28 overall advantage in the series, AU has won the last 10 meetings, dating back to Feb. 11, 1991. American's last lost against Navy came on Jan. 26, 1991, when both teams were members of the Colonial Athletic Association. AU has won overy game against the Mids - nine in a row - since joining the Patriot League in 2001. The Eagles swept three straight games from Navy last season, including an 85-83 overtime win in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament.
LAST TIME OUT: The American University men's basketball team got within four points with just over three minutes remaining, but could get no closer in a 74-63 loss to Holy Cross Saturday at the Hart Center. American's Andre Ingram hit his second three-pointer of the game with 3:12 remaining in the game, off an offensive rebound by sophomore Travis Lay, to make the score 63-59. The trey gave Ingram 18 points, his highest output since he scored 21 against Howard on December 12. However, American could only get one field goal for the remainder of the game while the Crusaders hit their free throws down the stretch to hold off the Eagles. Turnovers and free throws undid the Eagles, as they were outscored 24-8 from the free throw line and gave up 18 turnovers to the Crusaders' 12. Holy Cross scored 15 points off Eagle turnovers. The Eagles started slow to open the game, trailing by as many as eight points (14-6) just four minutes into the contest. However, American slowly began to chip away at the lead, thanks to spot-on shooting in the opening period. The Eagles hit 13-of-25 attempts (52 percent), but turnovers limited AU's offensive chances. American had 11 first-half turnovers, compared to just five for the Crusaders. Holy Cross, which improves to 10-9 overall and 3-1 in the Patriot League, was led by center Tim Clifford, who scored a career-high 27 points. Kevin Hamilton added 17 for the Crusaders, while Keith Simmons had 15, including a seven-for-seven performance from the free throw line. Ingram's 18 points led three Eagles in double-figures. Arvydas Eitutavicius had 13 points, but hit just four-of-13 field goal attempts. Brayden Billbe had 10 points, while freshman Jordan Nichols tied for the sixth-most blocks in a single-game in school history with six rejections.
ON THE SIDELINE: Head Coach Jeff Jones is in his sixth season at the helm of the Eagles program. He boasts a 82-82 (.500) overall record at AU, but his record over the past four seasons was 69-50 (.580). Jones is the first coach at AU since Eagles Hall-of-Famer David Carrasco to put together four consecutive winning seasons. Carrasco went 23-5, 22-7, 21-7 and 15-7 from 1957 to 1961. The four straight winning seasons are the most for AU since the 1974-75 team concluded five straight winning tilts.
RECORD VS. THE PATRIOT LEAGUE: American University possesses a 94-91 (.508) overall record versus teams from the Patriot League (See chart below).
Army 10-1 Bucknell 17-20 Colgate 8-3 Holy Cross 3-9 Lafayette 14-16 Lehigh 15-8 Navy 28-33 Total 95-90 (.514)SENDING THEM BACK FROM WHENCE THEY CAME: Freshman forward Jordan Nichols on Saturday did something few other AU men's basketball players have done: he blocked six shots in one game. That performance tied him for the sixth-most blocks in a single game in AU history. Having as many as six blocks in a game is something only four other Eagles have accomplished. AU great Kermit Washington has the top spot, with 10 blocks versus Georgetown on Feb. 6, 1971, as well as the second spot with eight blocks, something he did eight times. Meanwhile, Nichols' six blocks gave him 26 this season, just four behind the school's single-season top-10. Nichols had a five-block performance earlier this season versus Yale, giving him 11 of his 26 blocks in two games. Nichols is currently averaging 1.44 blocks per game, which, if he can keep up his current pace, would give him 39 for the season, good enough for fifth all-time at AU.
AN UNFORTUNATE FIRST: Saturday's loss at Holy Cross set an unfortunate precedent for the Eagles: it was the first time all season AU has lost when having a higher shooting percentage than their opponent. Against the Crusaders, American hit 45.3 percent of its shots, compared with 43.1 percent for the hosts. Prior to that, American was 5-0 when outshooting its opponent.
NICHOLS NEARING MILESTONES: Freshman Jordan Nichols is just 10 points away from 100 in his career, after averaging 5.0 ppg thus far. Perhaps more impressive, however, is that he is just nine rebounds away from 100 career rebounds. Even more astounding, nearly half of Nichols' rebounds are of the offensive variety; he has 46 defensive rebounds and 45 offensive boards. Meanwhile, fellow freshman Garrison Carr is just five points away from 100 in his career.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?: They say football is a game of inches; one small play can go a long way toward determining the victor. If that were the case in basketball, American basketball would be a games of miles; the discrepency between winning and losing for the Eagles is gargantuan. See chart below.
Statistic In Wins In Losses Scoring 71.2 58.1 Scoring Margin +9.3 -16.8 FG Pct. .420 .379 3 Pt. Pct. .381 .292 FT Pct. .726 .652 Rebs. 39.3 33.8 Rebs. Against 32.0 37.7 Reb. Margin + 7.3 - 3.9 Assts. 15.5 12.7 TOs 15.0 16.7 Opps. TOs 15.7 13.3 Steals 7.3 6.2 Blocks 3.2 3.6