Thursday, January 26, 2012
RED-OUT SOLD OUT FRIDAY NIGHT... MBB: Boston (7-1) at STONY BROOK (7-1) 8:45 p.m. on WUSB and ESPNU
If there's one America East team standing between Stony Brook and an NCAA Tournament berth, it's Boston University. The Terriers came back from a 15-point deficit to beat the Seawolves by two in the conference championship game last March, hitting two free throws with 2.4 seconds left; knocked SBU out in the semifinals the previous season and are the only America East team to beat Stony Brook this season. The conference's NCAA berth won't be decided until tournament time in March, but the first-place battle between Stony Brook and BU Friday night at 9 is a true grudge match that should keep sold-out Pritchard Gym roaring and prove entertaining for the national television audience watching on ESPNU and listening on WUSB
The Seawolves (12-7, 7-1 America East) have won nine of their past 10 games, with their only loss in that stretch coming by a 61-55 score at BU (11-11, 7-1).
The Terriers are riding a seven-game winning streak since losing their conference opener at Vermont, and they own a four-game winning streak against Stony Brook.
"They're going to be right there at the end of the day, so you can't really lose any games if you want to win the league," Seawolves coach Steve Pikiell said. "It's an important game for us for a lot of reasons. It's important for us to continue winning home games."
Stony Brook is 9-0 at home, and school officials are encouraging fans to wear red to help create a raucous atmosphere. "Our students are just back from a six-week winter break," Pikiell said. "It's a tough place to play when the students are involved."
A check of conference statistics shows how closely matched the two teams are. Stony Brook and BU are running 1-2 in scoring defense, scoring margin, field-goal percentage and field-goal defense. Terriers leading scorer Darryl Partin (19.8) and Seawolves leading scorer Bryan Dougher (13.7) are the two most prolific three-point shooters in the league.
Although the Terriers have an inside presence in forwards Patrick Hazel and Dom Morris, they are a more perimeter-oriented team. Stony Brook relies on balanced production up front from forwards Al Rapier (9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds), Tommy Brenton (7.9, 8.1) and Dallis Joyner (7.9, 6.3) along with guard Dave Coley (9.4, 3.9), and the Seawolves have a deeper bench.
"Partin is the player of the year in the league, and D.J. Irving is the fastest point guard in the league," Pikiell said. "We've talked about how we're going to defend them and have changed a few things."