When: Saturday February 17 @ 7:30 PM
Where: Washington D.C. Pa. at Bender Arena
Both teams enter the game struggling. Army has won only one of its last six Patriot League games. Against league leading Lehigh the Black Knights were dominated from the opening tip and were down by as many as 22 points before losing 78-66. American has lost three games in a row. The Eagle's last loss to Colgate on the road was a bitter double overtime loss after they gave up a nine-point halftime lead. Colgate hit last second baskets to tie the score both at the end of regulation and the first overtime. They defeated American on free throws in second overtime (75-74)
Army routed American, 68-48, at Christl Arena on January 20. It was the best Patriot League performance by Army this year. The Black Knights defense harassed the Eagles and scored 27 points off 19 turnovers. American shot just 23.8% from the field in the first half. It was one of the best team shooting games for Army this year. They hit 54% of their shots and 50% from long range. Josh Miller led Army with 15 points.
The Match ups:
After three straight Patriot League championships, losing 2009 player of the year Derrick Mercer and graduating his entire starting lineup American coach June Jones knew this was a rebuilding year. The Eagles started the year dropping its first seven contests. Once the Patriot League season began American began to play more competitively. At one point in January they one four of five games with the only defeat against Army.
American was given an offensive boost in December when Vlad Moldoveanu, a Romania transfer from George Mason, became eligible to play. The 6-9 Moldoveanu is a terrific scorer. He is averaging 19.9 points hitting 48.4 % of his shots including 40.8% from beyond the arc. Moldoveanu has lit up the Patriot League scoring twenty or more points in six of his last seven league games. He has two games scoring more than thirty points in that stretch including a season high of 37 against Navy. Obviously his size and shooting ability will cause match up problems for Army. Even in the blow out loss against the Black Knights he still scored 22 points.
The two other players of note for American are 6-8 sophomore forward Stephen Lumpkins and junior 6-3 guard Nick Hendra. Lumpkins is a low box player averaging 11.5 ppg and 8 rebounds. Hendra is the lone scoring threat at guard averaging 10.2 ppg while hitting 38.3% of his shots from beyond the arc. American is a solid defensive team allowing the second fewest points in the league( 67.6 ppg). A big key for their success is Lumpkin who is second in the league with 41 blocked shots while doing a nice job off the glass.
It's now official that this is a very disappointing season for the Army Black Knights. With one of the most athletic in the league, the experience of seven seniors and a terrific defense many Army fans felt this was the year they could challenge for the Patriot League title. After starting 10-4 against an admittedly soft non-league schedule under new coach Zach Spiker the Black Knights looked to Army fans as if they were the class of the league. Right now Army finds itself in an all too familiar place, the Patriot League cellar.
Army has dropped five of its last six games because of its offensive ineptitude. Army is a poor shooting team that relies on three players Cleveland Richard, Julian Simmons and Josh Miller for its scoring. Cleveland Richard has tried to pick up the scoring slack by being more aggressive driving to hoop. It's led to more free throw attempts but Richard hasn't been able to finish in close enough hitting only 40% of his shots the last six games. Simmons is Army's best shooter averaging 12.7 points per game and is hitting 432% beyond the arc. Simmons has been at times careless with the ball and it has led to his minutes being cut. He averaged only 18 minutes the last two games. Simmons needs to be on the floor if Army is going to score. The biggest culprit in the Black Knight slide is the decline of Josh Miller's offensive game. Since scoring 15 in the win over American Josh has averaged just 4.2 points.
He was held scoreless for the first time in 46 games against Lehigh. Miller has shot just 21% (9 of 43) from the field including an anemic 1 of 17 from beyond the arc during Army's slide.
Preview: Army at American
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