Feb. 14, 2006
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THE STORYLINE: The American University men's basketball team will try to put together just its second Patriot League win streak this season, as well as sweep the regular season series with Army for the fifth time in five years, Wednesday night in West Point, N.Y. However, earlier this season the Black Knights proved it won't be an easy task, taking the Eagles to double-overtime on AU's home floor before American finally prevailed, 65-63. AU has not lost to Army since Dec. 23, 1963, when the Black Knights prevailed, 100-70.
LAST TIME OUT: Andre Ingram and Derrick Mercer's combined for 33 points as the American University men's basketball team led virtually throughout in a 72-64 victory over Colgate Sunday afternoon in Bender Arena. The Eagles are now 8-15 overall and tied for fourth in the Patriot League with a 4-6 league record. Colgate led just once at 27-26 in the first half before American reclaimed the lead a minute later and went on an 11-5 run to end the first half up by five. Though Colgate got as close as 46-44 with 12 minutes left, baskets by Brayden Billbe and Paulius Joneliunas put American up 54-47 with 9:21 to go. The lead grew to as much as 59-51 on a three by Ingram, but Colgate's Alvin Reed answered each Eagle basket with his own to get the Raiders as close as 61-56 with four minutes to go. Mercer forced contested off-balance jumpers from Reed on the next two possessions and American was solid from the line down the stretch, hitting 9-12 in the last 1:40. Aside from a two minute stretch where Colgate went on an 8-0 run, American controlled the first half, leading by as much as nine and ending the period with an 11-5 run to take a 37-32 lead into half. Ingram had 11 in the half and Mercer added five points and four assists. In the frontcourt AU held an 18-12 advantage on the boards led by Joneliunas' five. Ingram added four rebounds and assists to his 19 points and Mercer had six assists to go with his 14 points. Linas Lekavicius aided his assist to turnover ratio by leading all players with seven assists and just one turnover. Joneliunas led a team effort on the glass, adding a game-high eight rebounds to go with his eight points. As a team, American held the edge in rebounding with 38, including 15 on the offensive end. Jordan Nichols had one block in the game, putting him into the top-10 in AU single-season blocks with 30 on the year.
ON THE SIDELINE: Head Coach Jeff Jones is in his sixth season at the helm of the Eagles program. He boasts a 83-86 (.491) 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 96-93 (.507) overall record versus teams from the Patriot League (See chart below).
Army 10-1 Bucknell 17-21 Colgate 9-3 Holy Cross 3-9 Lafayette 15-16 Lehigh 14-10 Navy 28-33 Total 96-93 (.507)LAST MEETING: It took Andre Ingram's game-tying three-pointers at the end of regulation and overtime to spark the American University men's basketball to a 7-0 run at the start of the second overtime, a lead which proved enough to take a thrilling 65-63 double overtime victory at the hands of the Army Black Knights in Bender Arena. Linas Lekavicius hit for 13 second-half and overtime points to give the Eagles their first overtime win since defeating Navy last year in March. After needing three-pointers from Ingram at the end of regulation and overtime to force the second overtime, Lekavicius hit for four points separated by another Ingram three to ignite the Eagles on a 7-0 run in the first 1:36 of double overtime. Despite Ingram fouling out and the team hitting just 1-6 from the line in the final 30 seconds, the lead did not get below four except as time expired on a 25-foot Army three with the Eagles in the clear.
INGRAM ENTERS AU TOP-20 IN SCORING: With 19 points versus Colgate, American leapfrogged a former AU great into the top-20 all-time in career scoring. Ingram now has 1,121 career points, moving ahead of Ray Ruhling (1,105 pts. from 1965-68) for 20th place. Up next is Richard Wells (1,220 pts. from 1956-60).
POSSIBILITIES: With four games left in the Patriot League season, American could finish anywhere between third and seventh in the PL standings. Only Bucknell (at 11-0) has clinched a spot. The Bison, ranked 24th nationally, will host one of the two "mini-tournaments" the PL holds to determine its champion.
EITUTAVICIUS SLUMPING: Junior guard Arvydas Eitutavicius has gone four straight games without reaching double-digits in points. This streak comes after he tallied double-digits in seven of his previous nine games, including three 20-point games and a career-high 25 point effort versus Yale.
SEASON SWEEPS: American University has swept Army in the regular season every season since joining the Patriot League in 2001. See chart below for the teams AU has swept in the regular season.
2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 Colgate Navy Navy Navy Colgate Army Army Colgate Army Bucknell Holy Cross Navy ArmySweeps: Navy (4), Army (4), Colgate (3), Holy Cross (1), Lehigh (1), Bucknell (1) Total: 14
EITUTAVICIUS RANKED IN TOP-10 NATIONALLY IN FREE THROWS: Junior guard Arvydas Eitutavicius entered last week ranked sixth nationally in free throw percentage. As of Jan. 30, Eitutavicius had hit 55-of-60 free throw attempts (91.7 percent). NCAA Statistics were not released as of Feb. 14.
NICHOLS CRACKS AU TOP-10 IN BLOCKS: Freshman forward Jordan Nichols, despite being just 6-5, broke into the AU all-time top-10 in single-season blocks. The Maryland native has used his 7-4 wingspan to swat 30 shots. He is now tied with Juan Jones for 10th, but is just 14 blocks out of second place.