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Men’s Basketball Notebook – Feb. 24

Feb 24, 2014, 3:11 PM EDT

Hofstra's Zeke Upshaw Hofstra's Zeke Upshaw

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Jerrelle Benimon • Towson
Sr., F, 6-8, 245 – Warrenton, Va./Fauquier
Benimon averaged 18.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting 63.3% from the floor in Towson’s 3-0 week. The senior had a game-high 25 points, a season-high tying 18 rebounds and five assists as the Tigers ended Delaware’s 13-game winning streak with a 78-63 victory. He was just the fifth Division I player to have at least 25 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists in a game this season. Benimon also contributed a team-high 22 points in an 83-77 triumph at Hofstra.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Zeke Upshaw • Hofstra
Gr., G/F, 6-6, 215 – Chicago, Ill./University
Upshaw averaged 29.5 points and 3.5 rebounds as Hofstra dropped narrow decisions to the top two teams in the conference. The Pride guard/forward poured in a team-high 26 points in an 81-77 setback to Delaware and followed with a game-high 33 points in an 83-77 loss to Towson. For the week, he shot 46.3% from the floor, drained seven 3-pointers and was 16-of-17 at the free throw line. Upshaw has scored 25+ points seven times this season.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK:
T.J. Williams • Northeastern
Fr., G, 6-3, 190 – Pflugerville, Texas/Pflugerville
Williams averaged 16.5 points and 4.0 assists in Northeastern’s two games last week. The freshman guard scored a career-high 17 points on perfect 6-of-6 FG shooting against Towson and followed with 16 points and a team-high five assists at William & Mary. For the week, Williams shot 73.3% (11-15) from the floor and was 9-of-12 at the free throw line.

CONFERENCE NOTES:

STANDINGS TIGHT HEADING INTO FINAL WEEK: Heading into the final week of regular-season play, there is still plenty to be determined before setting seeds for the CAA Men’s Basketball Championship. Despite suffering a pair of CAA losses last week, Delaware (12-2) holds a one-game lead over second-place Towson (11-3). The Blue Hens can clinch at least a share of their first regular-season title with a win at UNCW on Wednesday, but need two victories or a Towson loss this week to lock up the #1 seed. The Tigers will be no lower than a #2 seed and could earn the #1 spot if UD loses depending on the outcome of tiebreakers. William & Mary (9-5) will be the #3 seed in the tournament. Only 1.5 games separate fourth-place Drexel (7-7), College of Charleston (6-8), James Madison (6-8) and Northeastern (6-9). A complete set of tiebreakers will be published before Saturday’s games.

DELAWARE, TOWSON REACH 20-WIN MARK: Delaware has reached the 20-win mark for the first time since 2000-01, while Towson has hit the 20-win plateau for only the second time at the Division I level and the first since 1993-94. The Blue Hens have won 14 of their past 16 games and the Tigers have won eight of their last nine contests.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Home teams have gone 21-8 in CAA play over the past three weeks after a run of success by visiting squads. Home teams are 39-25 for the year but four teams are at least .500 on the road in league play. Each team will play a 16-game conference schedule  with home and away games against all eight league foes.

CLOSE GAMES IN CONFERENCE PLAY: Half (32-of-64) of all CAA games played this season have been decided by seven points or less or in overtime. Six of Drexel’s last nine games have been decided by four points or less. James Madison has had nine contests decided by six points or less. UNCW has had eight games with margins of seven points or less and a ninth go to overtime. Northeastern has had two games go to overtime and four others with margins of four points or less.

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES: Along with the big weeks put together by Benimon and Upshaw, several other players had impressive weeks. Drexel’s Tavon Allen averaged 18.0 ppg in a pair of games, including a career-high 25 points in a win over Delaware. CofC’s Willis Hall averaged 15.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg over two games, including a 21-point, 9-rebound effort in a victory over W&M. JMU’s Ron Curry scored a team-high 18 points in a 63-61 triumph over Drexel, including a game-winning trey with 6.5 seconds left in overtime. W&M’s Marcus Thornton averaged 16.3 ppg in the Tribe’s 2-1 week, highlighted by a 25-point performance in a victory over Northeastern.

CAA RANKED 15TH IN LATEST RPI RATINGS: The CAA was ranked 15th among the nation’s 32 Division I conferences according to the latest RPI ratings released by Collegiate Basketball News (rpiratings.com) on Feb. 24. Delaware was the highest ranked CAA team at #74 followed by Towson at #100, Drexel at #110 and William & Mary at #134. A complete listing can be found on Page 2 of the release.

SADDLER, THORNTON IN DOUBLE FIGURES: Delaware senior guard Devon Saddler has scored double figures in 59 of his last 61 games, while William & Mary junior guard Marcus Thornton has reached double digits in 55 of his last 58 contests. Saddler had a 38-game streak snapped in the semifinals of the 2013 CAA Championship and has scored double figures in 21 of his 22 games this season. Thornton saw his streak of scoring double figures end at 42 games after being held to nine points in a loss at West Virginia on Dec. 29. Since that time, he’s scored double digits in 13 of his 15 contests.

BENIMON, EATHERTON LEAD NATION IN DOUBLE-DOUBLES: Towson’s Jerrelle Benimon leads the nation with 18 double-doubles and Northeastern’s Scott Eatherton is second with 17 according to the latest NCAA statistics through games of Feb. 23. Beninon also ranked 3rd in the nation in rebounding (11.4 rpg) and 59th in FG percentage (52.7%), while Eatherton was 17th in rebounding (10.0 rpg) and 31st in FG percentage (55.6%). In other categories, W&M’s Marcus Thornton was 22nd in 3-pointers per game (3.0), 30th in 3-pt FG percentage (41.6%) and 54th in scoring (19.0 ppg). CofC’s Willis Hall was 28th in rebounding (9.3 rpg) and 45th in double-doubles (9). Drexel’s Frantz Massenat was 29th in assist/turnover ratio. Delaware’s Devon Saddler was 19th in scoring (20.4 ppg), UD’s Davon Usher ranked 31st (19.8 ppg) and Hofstra’s Zeke Upshaw was 43rd (19.4 ppg).

HOFSTRA’S UPSHAW HAS NATION’S BIGGEST JUMP IN SCORING: Hofstra’s Zeke Upshaw ranks 3rd in the CAA in scoring with 19.4 ppg, which is a significant jump over the 2.5 ppg he averaged last season at Illinois State. The 16.9 ppg difference is the biggest jump of any player in Division I. Fairleigh Dickinson’s Sidney Sanders ranks second with a 15.6 ppg increase and Eastern Washington’s Tyler Harvey is third with a 14.7 ppg increase.

THREE AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS IN FEWEST TURNOVERS: Drexel is averaging only 8.5 turnovers per game this season, which ranks second among all Division I teams. The Dragons have committed nine or fewer turnovers in 14 of their last 20 games and haven’t turned the ball over more than 14 times in any game. Drexel had only five turnovers in a narrow loss to #1 Arizona on Nov. 27. Delaware has recorded single-digit turnovers in 13 of its last 18 games. The Blue Hens rank 13th nationally with 9.9 tpg. William & Mary, which ranks 35th with 10.5 tpg, has turned the ball over 10 or fewer times in nine of its last 11 games and is averaging 6.7 tpg over its last four contests.

SADDLER BECOMES UD’S ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER: Delaware guard Devon Saddler became the Blue Hens’ all-time leading scorer on Feb. 3, breaking the mark held by Mike Pegues (2,030). With 2,119 points, he has moved up to 9th on the CAA’s all-time scoring chart. Saddler, who missed seven games due to a team suspension, is averaging 20.4 ppg and ranks 3rd in career points among all active players in Division I, trailing Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Oakland’s Travis Bader.

DREXEL DUO CLIMBING CAREER LISTS: Drexel guard Chris Fouch has moved into 5th place on the Dragons’ all-time scoring list with 1,677 points. He has also made 265 career 3-pointers and needs four more to tie VCU’s B.A. Walker for 10th place on the CAA’s career treys chart. Backcourt mate Frantz Massenat ranks third in career assists at Drexel with 538 and has moved up to 9th place on the CAA’s all-time assists chart. He’s also eighth on Drexel’s career scoring list with 1,595 points.

DELAWARE’S START BEST IN CAA HISTORY: The 11-0 start by Delaware tied the CAA record for the best start ever. The 2006-07 VCU team and the 1985-86 Richmond team also opened 11-0. James Madison had  9-0 starts in 1990-91 and 1991-92 and three teams started 8-0 – Old Dominion in 2004-05, Richmond in 1988-89 and Northeastern in 2012-13.

College of Charleston

•    Rolled past W&M 87-54 at home but fell 57-55 in 2ot at UNCW last week.

•    Willis Hall scored a team-high 21 points on 8-of-10 FG shooting and grabbed 9 rebounds vs. W&M and posted his 9th double-double (10pts/10reb) at UNCW.

•    Canyon Barry hit three treys and poured in 17 points vs. W&M. He’s tallied double digits in four of his last five games.

•    Nori Johnson knocked down four treys and scored 16 points vs. W&M and followed with a team-high 15 points at UNCW.

•    CofC’s defense has held its past four opponents to 60 points or less. The Cougars lead the CAA in scoring defense (61.8 ppg).

•    CofC set season highs for FG percentage (64.2%), 3-pt FG percentage (63.6%) and FT percentage (100%) in the W&M win.

•    CofC out-rebounded the Tribe 36-18. The Cougars lead the CAA in rebound margin (+6.2 rpg) in conference play.

Delaware

•    Lost two of three last week, beating Hofstra (81-77) but falling to Towson (78-63) and Drexel (69-65). Have won 14 of their last 16 and reached the 20-win mark for the first time since 2000-01.

•    Davon Usher scored 24 points at Towson, 27 points at Hofstra and 19 points vs. Drexel. He’s tallied double figures in 18 straight contests, has 13 games with 20+ points and is averaging 28.5 ppg over his last six games.

•    Devon Saddler averaged 20.7 ppg last week and moved into 9th on the CAA’s all-time scoring list with 2,119 pts. He has scored 20+ points in 10 of the last 15 games and is averaging 20.4 ppg and 4.7 apg in CAA play.

•    Carl Baptiste has posted double-doubles in 3 of his last 4 games and is averaging 11.3 ppg and 11.8 rpg during that stretch. He’s shooting a league-best 57.3% from the floor in CAA play.

•    Kyle Anderson scored 18 points at Hofstra, which was his top effort since Dec. 30.

•    UD’s crowd of 5,122 vs. Drexel was the 8th biggest in BCC history.

Drexel

•    Split a pair of road games last week, losing 63-61 in OT at JMU before rebounding for a 69-65 victory at first-place Delaware.

•    Tavon Allen scored a career-high 25 points in the UD win, including 19 in the second half. He’s reached double figures in five of his last seven games.

•    Frantz Massenat scored a team-high 15 points at JMU and 11 at UD. He’s averaging 20.2 ppg and 5.2 apg in CAA play and has scored double figures in 14 straight games. He ranks 3rd in career assists (538) and 8th in career points (1,595) at Drexel.

•    Chris Fouch added 19 points at UD and 13 points at JMU. He’s scored double digits in 16 of his last 17 games and is averaging 18.9 ppg in CAA play. Fouch is 4th in career treys (265) and 5th in career points (1,677) at DU.

•    Dartaye Ruffin had 11 rebounds at JMU and 12 at UD. He’s averaging 10.3 rpg over his last four games. Ruffin is now 8th on Drexel’s career rebounds list with 809.

•    Drexel has held its past six opponents to under 40% FG shooting.

Hofstra

•    Dropped close games to 1st-place Delaware (81-77) and 2nd place Towson (83-77). Led UD by 15 points late in the first half.

•    Zeke Upshaw scored a game-high 33 points vs. Towson and a team-best 26 points vs. Delaware, extending his double-figure scoring streak to a CAA-best 19 games. Upshaw has topped the 20-point mark 15 times and is averaging 20.6 ppg in CAA play.

•    Dion Nesmith contributed 20 points and 5 assists vs. UD and 14 points vs. Towson, which was his 11th double-digit scoring effort in the last 12 games. He’s averaging 13.4 ppg and 4.4 apg in CAA play.

•    Stephen Nwaukoni is averaging 8.5 rpg in CAA play. He ranks 12th on the Pride’s all-time rebounding list with 699.

•    Moussa Kone tied a career high with 12 rebounds and blocked a career-best 6 shots against Towson. It was the most blocks by a Hofstra player in a game since 2010.

•    Hofstra made 12 three-pointers vs. UD, which was its 2nd-highest total of the year.

James Madison

•    Edged Drexel 63-61 in OT last Wednesday. JMU has won three of its last four games.

•    Ron Curry scored a team-high 18 points vs. Drexel, including a game-winning 3-pointer with 6.5 seconds left in OT. He has tallied double figures in 6 of his last 7 games.

•    Andre Nation added 12 points and 7 rebounds. vs. Drexel. He’s scored double digits in 11 straight games and is averaging 15.7 ppg in CAA play.

•    Charles Cooke chipped in 13 points vs. Drexel and has scored double figures in six of his past seven contests.

•    Freshman Yohanny Dalembert had 9 points and 6 rebounds vs. Drexel and is averaging 10.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg over his last 3 games.

•    Andrey Semenov is the only JMU player to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 100 assists and 100 blocks in a career.

•    Freshman Tom Vodanovich tied a career-high with 11 rebounds vs. Drexel and also added six points and two blocks.

UNCW

•    Beat CofC 57-55 in 2ot after falling 93-70 at W&M last week. Have won three of their last five after an 0-10 CAA start.

•    Shane Reybold posted his 2nd career double-double (15 pts/10 reb) vs. CofC, including a tip-in at the buzzer to force OT.

•    Ben Eblen hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 37.8 seconds left in the 2nd OT vs. CofC and also grabbed seven rebounds.

•    Dylan Sherwood added 11 points off the bench vs. CofC. It was his third double-digit effort in the last five games.

•    Cedrick Williams is among the CAA’s top 15 in scoring (12.1 ppg), rebounding (6.7 rpg), blocks (1.5 bpg) and FG% (50%).

•    UNCW has used two separate five-man units for the past five games. Nine players saw between 17-23 minutes at W&M.

•    UNCW shot 47.5% from the floor at W&M, which was its best FG percentage since hitting 49.1% at CofC on Jan. 22.

Northeastern

•    Lost 79-70 to Towson and 81-67 at William & Mary last week.

•    Scott Eatherton just missed his 18th double-double with 15 points (all in 2nd half) and a team-high 9 rebounds vs. Towson. He’s among the CAA’s top 8 in scoring, rebounding, FG percentage and blocks.

•    Freshman T.J. Williams scored a career-high 17 points on perfect 6-of-6 FG shooting vs. Towson and followed with a team-best 16 points and 5 assists at W&M.

•    David Walker had 11 points, a career-high 7 assists and 2 steals vs. Towson and tallied 12 points at W&M. He’s scored double figures in 8 of the last 9 games.

•    NU shot 48.1% from the floor vs. Towson. The Huskies have shot 46.8% or better in five of their last nine contests.

•    Northeastern out-rebounded Towson 27-25, becoming just the 2nd CAA team and 6th overall to beat the Tigers on the glass.

Towson

•    Went 3-0 last week, defeating first-place Delaware 78-63 before road victories at Northeastern (79-70) and Hofstra (83-77). Have won 8 of their last 9 games.

•    Jerrelle Benimon posted his NCAA-best 18th double-double (25pts/18reb) vs. UD and scored a team-high 22 points at Hofstra. He has 15 games with 20+ points and 20 games with 10+ rebounds this season.

•    Mike Burwell averaged 17.0 ppg and 5.3 rpg over the three wins. He has 6 double-digit efforts in the last 7 games.

•    Rafriel Guthrie scored a season-high 21 points on 8-of-10 FG shooting at NU and averaged 17.3 ppg for the week. He’s scored double figures in 10 of the last 12 games.

•    Timajh Parker-Rivera contributed 13 points and 5 rebounds at NU and is averaging 10.4 ppg and 6.6 rpg over his last 5 games.

•    Towson’s 20 wins are its most since 1993-94 and the Tigers’ 11-3 CAA start is their best ever.

William & Mary

•    Went 2-1 last week. Made a school-record 16 threes and rolled past UNCW 93-70. Lost 87-54 at CofC before beating NU 81-67.

•    Brandon Britt made 4-of-5 treys and scored a season-high 22 points vs. UNCW. He’s averaging 13.2 ppg over his last 5 games.

•    Marcus Thornton hit 5-of-7 threes and poured in a team-best 25 points vs. NU and had 15 points vs. UNCW. He’s scored double figures in 13 of his last 15 contests.

•     Tim Rusthoven tallied 13 points at CofC and had 12 points vs. NU. It was his 6th double-digit scoring effort in the past 7 games.

•    Omar Prewitt scored a team-high 13 points off the bench at CofC. He leads all CAA freshmen in scoring (11.4 ppg) and is 2nd in rebounding (4.4 rpg).

•     W&M is shooting 48.4% from the floor and 41.7% from three in CAA play and is averaging a league-best 9.1 treys made per game against CAA foes.

•    W&M has shot 60% or better in a half nine times this season.

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