The UMBC men's basketball squad (18-10, 10-3 America East) makes the first of two trips to New York over the next five days as the Retrievers take on revitalized UAlbany (10-17, 5-7 AE) on Saturday, Feb. 23. Tip-off time at SEFCU Arena is set for 7:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
The Retrievers head for New York's capital region less than 24 hours after winning their fourth consecutive game, a 65-56 victory over first-place Vermont. UMBC won for the ninth time in ten outings and clinched a first-round home game (top four seed) in the America East playoffs. The Retrievers moved into second place in the conference, just one game behind Vermont after completing a season sweep of the Catamounts.
Retriever Review: Junior guard K.J. Jackson (Houston, Texas) scored a game-high 18 points and the Retriever defense held first-place Vermont 19 points below its season scoring average as UMBC prevailed, 65-56, before 2,411 at the UMBC Event Center and a national television (EPSNU) audience.
Junior forward Arkel Lamar (Bridgeport, Conn.) ably aided Jackson with 15 points, including 13 in the second half. In a similar fashion to the Retrievers' win at Vermont, UMBC shot extremely well from the floor in the second half. They would never trail in the final 20 minutes and opened the frame by hitting 12 of their first 18 shots.
Graduate student forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) leads the squad at 14.3 points per game. Sherburne – who just earned CoSIDA All-District 2 Academic All-America honors – set the school record for games played by a Retriever at 130 against the Catamounts. Jackson checks in at 12.3 points per game and has averaged 16.4 points per game over his last seven contests.
UMBC currently leads America East in defense, allowing 62.8 points per game (17th nationally). They are permitting 59.5 points per game in 13 America East contests. The Retrievers are also first in turnover margin (3.2, 34th nationally) and steals (7.9, 31st nationally). They are 19th in the nation in total steals (222).
A Glance at the Great Danes: After suffering an 86-54 home loss versus UMass Lowell, UAlbany (10-17, 5-7 AE) has bounced back for consecutive road wins at Maine, 63-54, and rival Stony Brook, 74-70. Albany led for over 35 minutes on Long Island and held off the Seawolves down the stretch. Red-shirt freshman standout Cameron Healy led all scorers with 24 points, while classmates Anthony Rizzuto (18) and Kendall Lauderdale (17 points, 9 rebounds) were at the forefront of the Great Dane victory.
Healy leads UAlbany with 16.6 points per game and leads the conference with 3.3 treys made (90) per game. Junior guard Ahmad Clark is the other Great Dane in double figures at 16.3 points per contest.
UAlbany averages 66.7 points and allows 69.5 per game. They are eighth in America East in shooting percentage (40.7) and ninth in turnover margin (-1.48).
Series Record/Last Meetings: UMBC snapped an eight-game slide to UAlbany by rallying past the Great Danes, 68-60, for the program's first victory in the UMBC Event Center last February 16. They pulled out their second straight series win with a heart-stopping 65-64 overtime decision last month. Ricky Council's trey with nine seconds left was the difference in the game.
Last January, UAlbany had overwhelmed UMBC, 83-39, at SEFCU Arena to win their tenth in a row over the Retrievers in Albany. UMBC's last win occurred in the 2009 America East semi-finals.
Overall, UAlbany leads the series, 25-9, and have won 14 of 17 meetings in the capital city.
Up Next: UMBC turns right back around and will visit Long Island to take on Stony Brook on Wednesday, Feb. 27. Tip-off time is slated for 7:00 p.m.