The UMBC men's basketball team (8-7) opens defense of its league title and its 16th season of America East play when the Maine Black Bears (2-13) visit the UMBC Event Center on Saturday, Jan. 5. Tip-off time is slated for 1:00 p.m. as Gary Stein, John Feinstein and Paul Mittemeier call the action on ESPN3.
Retriever Review: Sophomore forward Brandon Horvath (West River, Md./Southern) scored a career-high 22 points and Joe Sherburne added 18 as UMBC concluded the non-conference slate with a 98-48 victory over Centenary (N.J.) at the UMBC Event Center on Dec. 31.
Graduate student forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) leads a balanced UMBC attack with 14.4 points per game and is third in America East in shooting at 53.1 percent from the floor. Sherburne has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games and is now tied for tenth on UMBC's all-time scoring list with 1,307 points. Junior guard K.J. Jackson (Houston, Texas) averages 11.6 points per game, while Horvath checks in at 11.7 points per contest. Sophomore post Daniel Akin (London, England) has a team-best 5.8 caroms per game in his four outings this season.
UMBC currently leads America East in defense, allowing 65.5 points per game. The Retrievers are also first in turnover margin (3.6) and steals (8.2). They are 31st in the nation in total steals (110) and 34th in turnovers forced (16.8) per game.
UMBC was 9-6 after the end of non-conference play a season ago, and then proceeded to win 16 of their final 21 games. Entering league play in 2017-18, the Retrievers were allowing 73.5 points per game; in the 36 games since, UMBC has permitted 65.1 points per contest.
Offensively, the biggest difference has been in 3-point shooting. After 15 games a season ago, the Retrievers were one of the nation's leaders in treys made per game (12.3) and efficiency (41.0). This year, they are at 9.0 and 32.8 respectively.
UMBC is 7-8 in 15 previous AE lid-lifters and has won two straight under Odom after four consecutive 0-1 starts.
A Glance at the Black Bears: Under first-year men's head coach Richard Barron, Maine enters America East play at 2-13, but the Black Bears have lost a pair of overtime games and are road-tested, with the contest at UMBC serving as No. 12 on the season. Barron served as head coach of the Maine women's program from 2011-17.
Maine is fourth of the nine America East squads in both field goal percentage offense (43.6 percent) and defense (44.1 percent).
Juniors Isaiah White and Andrew Fleming are a solid outside-inside punch for the Black Bears. White averages 15.1 points per game, 11th in America East, and has netted 34 treys, nearly 40 percent of the Black Bear totals for the season. Fleming, a versatile post player, averages 13.6 points and a team-best 6.3 caroms and 3.1 assists per game.
Maine dropped a tough 75-67 decision at Brown on Wednesday. Trailing by as much as 19 points in the second half, the Black Bears whittled the Brown lead to just two points with less than three minutes left, but could not complete the rally.
Fleming reached the 20-point milestone for the second time this season, knocking down 7-of-14 shots for 21 points, while grabbing seven boards and dishing four assists. White added 20 points, connecting on 4-of-7 attempts from long range.
Series Record: The Retrievers lead the all-time series, 19-13, and have won eight straight games since the 2014-15 season. UMBC has won the last six contests in Baltimore and are 9-6 in the previous 15 games all played at the RAC Arena.
In the final men's game played at the RAC Arena, UMBC defeated Maine, 86-74. The Black Bears led, 36-35, at the half, but Jairus Lyles scored 19 of his 34 points in the final 20 minutes to lead the Retrievers to victory. Then freshman Daniel Akin nearly posted a double-double with 9 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor for the game.
Akin had 11 points (tying career-best) and seven caroms in UMBC's 72-67 win at Maine on January 10.
Up Next: UMBC takes a northern road trip next week, visiting Hartford on Wed., Jan. 9 and UMass Lowell on Saturday, Jan. 12.