Feb. 10, 2006
Sunday's game will be televised live on College Sports Television beginning at Noon with American's women's game versus Colgate. The men's game will start at 2:30 p.m. The game will also be available via online streaming as part of CSTV's All-Access XXL package. Click here for more information on the All-Access XXL package.
Listen to the game live on AM 1260 in the Washington, D.C., metro area or on AUEagles.com outside of the D.C. area by clicking here.
THE STORYLINE: This is a huge game for American University men's basketball, as Patriot League teams jockey for positioning in the second half of the PL schedule. The Eagles, sitting at 3-6 in the conference and in fifth place, are just one game ahead of both Colgate and Navy in the standings with five league games remaining, meaning the Eagles could still finish anywhere between second and eighth in the conference. This game could also reverse AU's momentum, after the Eagles have lost four of their last five games. American has already defeated Colgate once this season, 74-66, in Hamilton, N.Y. American is seeking a regular season sweep of Colgate for the third time in the Eagles' five seasons in the Patriot League.
LAST TIME OUT: A strong first-half effort by host Bucknell University put the American University men's basketball in a 14-point hole, from which the Eagles could not claw out of in the second half in a 74-57 BU win Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion. American found itself in a 14-point hole entering the lockerroom at halftime. Bucknell's offense was efficient, hitting 52 percent from the floor and 63 percent (five-of-eight) from outside the arc. Meanwhile, the Bison's defense was stellar, holding the Eagles to just 39 percent shooting. With 11:07 remaining in the second period, AU held a 17-16 lead, but BU locked down and allowed just two AU field goals for the rest of the half, leading to a 24-9 Bucknell run to close out the half. No AU player had more than five points in the opening stanza, while the Bison outrebounded the Eagles 19-10, including nabbing 10 offensive boards. American could get no closer than 11 in the second half. Overall, the Bison outrebounded AU 28-16 and outscored the Eagles in the paint, 26-10. Derrrick Mercer was the only Eagle in double figures in scoring, finishing with 13 points while hitting all four of his shots, including three three-pointers. Bucknell had four players in double digits, led by center Chris McNaughton, who had 16 points on eight-of-12 shooting. With the loss, AU falls to 7-15 overall, 3-6 in the Patriot League. Bucknell improves to 19-3 overall, 10-0 in the PL. The Bison are just the second Patriot League team to start its league docket with 10 consecutive wins.
ON THE SIDELINE: Head Coach Jeff Jones is in his sixth season at the helm of the Eagles program. He boasts a 82-86 (.488) 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 95-93 (.505) overall record versus teams from the Patriot League (See chart below).
Army 10-1 Bucknell 17-21 Colgate 8-3 Holy Cross 3-9 Lafayette 15-16 Lehigh 14-10 Navy 28-33 Total 95-93 (.505)LAST MEETING: The American University men's basketball team raced out to an 18-point halftime lead and played solid basketball in the second stanza to defeat Colgate Saturday, 74-66, at Cotterell Court. The Eagles took it to Colgate early, opening the game on a 14-6 run in the first 6:33. Up nine points with 7:59 left in the second stanza, American went on a 7-0 run, with a pair of Paulius Joneliunas (Vilnius, Lithuania/Roanoke Catholic) free throws and a Travis Lay (Rockville, Md./Bullis School) sandwiched around an Arvydas Eitutavicius (Klaipeda, Lithuania/Laurinburg Institute) three-pointer. The teams traded points until a Brian Gilmore (Chesapeake, Va./Fork Union Military Academy) jumper closed out the half for the Eagles, putting them up by a 37-19 score.
SEASON SWEEPS: American University has swept Colgate University in the regular season twice times since joining the Patriot League in 2001. The Eagles are hoping the trend of sweeping the Raiders in seasons that start in odd years (the 2001-02 and 2003-04 seasons) continues this year (2005-06). See chart below for the teams AU has swept in the regular season.
2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 Colgate Navy Navy Navy Army Army Colgate Army Bucknell Holy Cross Navy ArmyNICHOLS REACHES TRIPLE-DIGITS: Freshman forward Jordan Nichols reached 100 career points with his four points at Bucknell on Wednesday night. He is the third freshman this year (behind Derrick Mercer [160 points] and Garrison Carr [120 points]) to knock down the triple-digit barrier.
Sweeps: Navy (4), Army (4), Colgate (2), Holy Cross (1), Lehigh (1), Bucknell (1)
EITUTAVICIUS RANKED IN TOP-10 NATIONALLY IN FREE THROWS: Junior guard Arvydas Eitutavicius entered this week ranked sixth nationally in free throw percentage. As of Jan. 30, Eitutavicius had hit 55-of-60 free throw attempts (91.7 percent).
NICHOLS NEARING AU TOP-10 IN BLOCKS: Freshman forward Jordan Nichols, despite being just 6-5, is just one block away from American's all-time top-10 in single-season blocked shots. The Maryland native has used his 7-4 wingspan to swat 29 shots.
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 47-142 (.331) 19-59 (.322) 164 (7.5) 96 (4.4) 53 (2.4) Non-Conference 32-87 (.368) 15-39 (.385) 108 (8.3) 52 (4.0) 30 (2.3) Patriot League 15-55 (.273) 4-20 (.200) 56 (6.2) 44 (4.9) 23 (2.6)