No. 9 Men's Basketball Meets No. 8 Army West Point in PL First Round on Tuesday

No. 9 Men's Basketball Meets No. 8 Army West Point in PL First Round on Tuesday

Game #29 • No. 8 American (8-21) at Army West Point (12-18) 
Tues., Feb. 28, 2017 • 7 p.m. • West Point, N.Y. • Christl Arena (5,043)
All-Time Record: American, 27-11
Last Meeting: American 61, Army 58 — Feb. 11, 2017
Stream: PLN  (Army)  Rich DeMarco (PXP), John Feinstein (Color)
Live Stats

American Game Notes
Army Game Notes

WASHINGTON — 
After winning its last two games, the American University men's basketball team finished ninth in the Patriot League and will take on eight-seed Army West Point on Tuesday evening a Christl Arena.

TICKETS: AU fans and alumni planning to attend the road game at Army West Point are encouraged to reserve tickets in the American fan seating block by calling the Athletics Tickets office at (202) 885-TIXX to purchase tickets or email petert@american.edu with contact information and a representative will return your call. All tickets in the AU fan section must be purchased by Tuesday at 10 a.m. Tickets prices, set by the Patriot League, are $12 for adults and $6 for students and senior citizens. Seating space is limited so reserve your tickets today.

News, Notes, and Storylines

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT: 
Freshmen Sa'eed Nelson and Mark Gasperini were recognized by the Patriot League coaches with a spot on the PL All-Rookie Team. Senior Charlie Jones was added to the PL All-Defensive Team.  Nelson led the Eagles in the regular season and finished fifth in all games and ninth in the league-only scoring at 15.1 points per game. On the defensive end, Nelson led the league in overall steals per game at 2.4 and was second in PL-only games at 2.2 Gasperini finished second on the Eagles in points at 11.9 and third in rebounds 4.5 per game. Gasperini was the third highest scoring rookie in the league. Jones took fourth on the Eagles scoring list (6.3) and was the top rebound (6.0). His defensive accolades had him sixth in league rebounding, second in defensive rebounds (6.0), second in minutes played (38.1), fifth in field goal percentage (56.0), sixth in steals (1.8), 10th in blocks (0.6).

ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: American owns a 27-11 all-time record against the Black Knights that dates back to the 1963-64 season. American won straight 11 meetings over Army since joining the Patriot League. AU has had winning streaks of six and seven games over Army but the Black Knights won the previous five before AU's road win on Feb. 11.

ARMY WEST POINT SCOUT: Jordan Fox leads the Black Knights in points, averaging 12.3 per contest, but it was rookie guard Tommy Funk who was the lone cadet to claim a spot on the All-PL Rookie Team. Funk is fourth on the team in points at 9.1 and second in assists with 136. Matt Wilson is the other rookie on the team who did not receive any recognition from the coaches in the voting process. He is second in both points (9.4) and rebounds (5.0). Wilson has the best shooting percentage on the squad, connecting on 65% of field goals. Wilson and John Emezie are role players off the bench, but coach Jimmy Allen has used them in pivotal minutes for the Black Knights. 

EAGLES REWIND VS. ARMY: The scoring margin this season is just one-point which favors the Black Knights. In the first meeting, Army started hot and led 16-6 before AU took a 36-35 lead in the second. Army retook the lead for good on free throws by Fox and then a three by Scott Mammel gave the Black Knights a 42-38 advantage. American had a chance to take a lead late after a three by Rhea, but a missed layup and free throw by Nelson allowed the Black Knights hold onto the lead. Sa'eed Nelson led the Eagles with 13 points, five assists and had five rebounds. Mark Gasperini finished with 12 points and contributed seven rebounds in 29 minutes. Jalen Rhea added 11 points off the bench and Charlie Jones chipped in nine points and 10 rebounds. In the second game, it was the defensive battle for the Eagles who forced 21 turnovers. Lonnie Rivera and Charlie Jones led the Eagles with 13 points. Charlie Jones added seven rebounds and two steals. Despite being outrebounded 37-30, the Eagles got to the line often and connected on 14-of-21 with 10 made in the final seven minutes of the game.

WHAT IT WILL TAKE FOR AN AU WIN: American will need to have a strong defensive battle in order to advance past Army in the PL First Round. The Eagles surrendered eight three-pointers in the first contest and struggled early in the contest. The major difference in the second game was AU's ability to get to the line. The Eagles went to the free throw line 21 times compared the four in the first game. American will also have to battle on the glass. American was outrebounded 72-59 by the Black Knights during the season series. 

KEY MATCHUP - PART II: American's Charlie Jones has been the X-factor this season against Army. Jones has averaged 11.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He shot 66 percent from the floor. For Army, Luke Morrison averaged 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds per game and shot 50 percent from the floor.

BRENNAN IN THE PL TOURNAMENT: Tuesday's PL Quarterfinal match will be the ninth game that head coach Mike Brennan has coached during his time at American. Brennan is 6-2 in the PL Tournament having won in his first season. In his second season, the Eagles advanced to the PL Championship before a heartbreaking loss to Lafayette on the road. Last season, the Eagles knocked off No. 3 Boston and went to the Semifinals before a tough loss to PL Finalist Lehigh. If American meets Colgate in the 7/10 game, Brennan is 2-0 against the Raiders. Under coach Brennan, American has not faced potential opponent Army West Point or Bucknell (quarterfinal opponent). 

AU IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: Sa'eed Nelson finished the regular season in the national rankings top 10 in four categories. Nelson is third in minutes per game at 37:53, eighth in steals per game (2.45) and ninth in total minutes, 1099:00, and total steals with 71. Nelson leads the Patriot League in minutes per game, steal per game and total steals. He is fourth in field goals made (161) and field goal attempts (359).

"MATTY ICE'" TAKING FORM: Matt Cimino was inserted into the starting lineup for the Navy contest and has taken over in the paint. He tied his career-best with 12 points in the win over Loyola after he dropped 12 against Navy. The George Washington transfer played 25 and 29 minutes, respectively in the starts. In the last six games, Cimino is averaging 18.5 minutes per game. Cimino is shooting 47.5 percent from the floor, 37.5 percent from the outside and 64.3 percent from the outside. 

SOPHOMORES READY FOR LEADERSHIP ROLE: Head coach Mike Brennan's sophomore class is ready to take on a major leadership role next season. Led by Delante Jones, AU's active leading scorer 691 points, and James Washington, averaging 5.2 points in 57 career games, the class will feature four players that have seen major minutes in their first two seasons. Lonnie Rivera and Andrija Matic are both near 50 career games and have career-high in double figures.