Eagles Head North Seeking to Avenge Earlier Loss to Lehigh

Eagles Head North Seeking to Avenge Earlier Loss to Lehigh

Feb. 3, 2006

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THE STORYLINE: American starts the second round of Patriot League play, looking to avenge a PL-opening loss at home to Lehigh. American is seeking to avoid its second regular-season sweep at the hands of the Mountain Hawks in three years, after getting knocked off twice by LU in the 2003-04 season. American is 2-3 in Stabler Arena since joining the PL in 2001, including losing the PL title game there in 2004.

LAST TIME OUT: Owning a 43-14 rebounding advantage and shooting a season-high 56 percent, the American University men's basketball team cruised to a 74-56 win over Lafayette College Saturday afternoon in Bender Arena. Andre Ingram led four Eagles in double-figures with 14 points in the win as AU improves to 7-13 overall and 3-4 in the Patriot League. While dominating the first-half on the glass with a 26-4 advantage, American ran out to a 37-20 cushion by half and never looked back. The lead grew to as much as 29 in the second-half before a late run by Lafayette taking the game 74-56. AU shot 69 percent for the game inside the arc with 38 points in the paint. Off second-chance opportunities, the Eagles had 19 points and Lafayette had five. American is now 5-1 when scoring more than 70 points in a game with the only loss coming to No. 9 Washington on the road. After falling behind 6-4 in the early minutes of the game, the Eagles went on a rebounding and shooting tear, going on a 24-6 run to take command of the game. Lafayette did not grab their first rebound until 9:53 left in the half and had just three from that point on, including a rebound of a last-second shot Eagle shot at the end of the half. Outside of turnovers and three-point shooting, American held the advantage in every statistical category. In rebounding, which proved to be the biggest difference in the game, American held Lafayette to a season-low 14. As part of an Eagles guard combination that outrebounded Lafayette 25-14 and shot 19-35 from the floor, Ingram had a game-high nine rebounds in addition to his 14 points. Linas Lekavicius dropped 12 points on 5-7 shooting and freshman point guard sensation Derrick Mercer led all players in minutes, contributing 11 points on 5-7 shooting with five assists and four rebounds. In the frontcourt, Brayden Billbe had 12 points in just 19 minutes on 6-8 shooting. Lafayette (9-11, PL 3-4) was led by Paul Cummins' game-high 20 points.

ON THE SIDELINE: Head Coach Jeff Jones is in his sixth season at the helm of the Eagles program. He boasts a 82-84 (.494) overall record at AU, but his record over the past four seasons was 68-51 (.571). 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 95-91 (.511) 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	15-16
Lehigh	        14-9
Navy	        28-33
Total	       95-91 (.511)
SECOND TIME THROUGH: This is American's fifth season in the Patriot League. In it's previous four seasons in the league, American has shown its mettle in the second half of the year. Overall, AU sports an 18-10 record in the second seven games of the Patriot League docket.

NICHOLS NEARING MILESTONES: Freshman Jordan Nichols is just four points away from 100 in his career, after averaging 4.8 ppg thus far. Perhaps more impressive, however, is that he surpassed 100 career rebounds in his last game. He now has 103 for his career. Even more astounding, nearly half of Nichols' rebounds are of the offensive variety; he has 52 defensive rebounds and 51 offensive boards. Furthermore, Nichols is just two blocks from tying for 10th place all-time at AU in single season blocks. He has 28 thus far, including a six-block game two games ago. Meanwhile, fellow freshman Garrison Carr is just two points away from 100 in his career.

EITUTAVICIUS RANKED IN TOP-10 NATIONALLY IN FREE THROWS: Junior guard Arvydas Eitutavicius entered this week ranked seventh nationally in free throw percentage. As of Jan. 30, Eitutavicius had hit 53-of-58 free throw attempts (91.4 percent). However, Eitutavicius is precariously close to the NCAA minimum; players must make at least 2.5 free throws per game to be eligible. Eitutavicius has made 2.65 per game.

DOMINATING DEFENSE BY DIMINUTIVE DERRICK: Freshman point guard Derrick Mercer has proven that his small size (5'9") is not a hindrance to his defensive capabilities. The New Jersey native and former St. Anthony's player, whom former head coach Bob Hurley deemed one of the "top five on-ball defenders" he has ever coached, came into AU with a reputation for hounding ballhandlers and forcing bad decisions. However, Mercer has gone beyond all expectations thus far, particularly against PL PGs. See below for the astounding defensive numbers versus opponents' point guards.

Category	Opp. PG FG 	Opp. PG 3-Ptrs	Opp. PG Pts.	Opp. PG Assts	Opp. PG TOs
All Teams	45-135 (.333)	17-56 (.304)	152 (7.6)	84 (4.2)	50 (2.5)
Non-Conference	32-87 (.368)	15-39 (.385)	108 (8.3)	52 (4.0)	30 (2.3)
Patriot League	13-48 (.271)	2-17 (.118)	44 (6.3)	32 (4.6)	20 (2.9)
BIG DAY ON THE BOARDS VERSUS LAFAYETTE: In American's 74-56 win over Lafayette last Saturday, the Eagles outrebounded the Leopards, 43-14, and advantage of 29 boards. The last time American had an advantage even close to that large was March 7, 2004, when AU defeated Colgate, 65-55, to advance to the Patriot League title game versus Lehigh. American outrebounded the Raiders 43-19 that day, an advantage of 24 boards.

HOME VS. AWAY: Check below for AU's numbers at home versus its numbers on the road. Only in rebounding is there a large disparity (38.9 rpg at home, 33.8 rpg on the road) between the numbers, except for the only numbers that matter: AU is 5-3 at home and 2-9 on the road.

Loc.	PPG	FG Pct.	3-ptrs.	FT Pct.	Rebs.	A	TO	Blk	Stl	Record
Home	66.6	.422	.327	.708	38.9	15.4	16.9	3.5	7.3	5-3
Away	63.5	.404	.323	.663	33.8	13.4	15.5	3.2	6.2	2-9