Patriot League Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - 11.23.12

Lehigh's C.J. McCollum

Nov. 23, 2012

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CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- Bucknell and Lehigh have received a lion's share of the attention in Patriot League men's basketball in recent years, and it will be no different this weekend.

Both teams are in the spotlight for different reasons, beginning with the Bison on Friday at Penn State. If Bucknell wins, it would be off to its first 6-0 start since 1983-84 and the first for any Patriot League team since Holy Cross in 2007-08.

Lehigh will not be in action until Sunday at Sacred Heart, where senior C.J. McCollum needs just 22 points to hit the Patriot League career scoring record of 2,224. McCollum is third in the nation with 25.6 points per game for the season.

Every team will take the court on the holiday weekend, with Navy playing a pair of games in the South Padre Island Invitational. The Mids will take on Prairie View on Friday, and either Fairleigh Dickinson or Delaware State on Saturday for their fourth game in seven days.

On Saturday, American is at Florida Atlantic, Army goes to Yale, Lafayette hosts Princeton and Holy Cross welcomes New Hampshire in addition to Navy's game. Colgate is at No. 6 Syracuse on Sports Net New York on Sunday.

The eight squads are a combined 22-17 for the season, with a 19-8 against Division I opponents outside of the "Big-Six" conferences.

Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PL_MBB
*Patriot League teams are 22-17 overall, and 19-8 against DI teams outside of the BCS leagues.
*The Patriot League is a combined 17-2 against regional conferences including the America East, CAA, Ivy League, MAAC, NEC and MEAC.
*Lehigh's C.J. McCollum will enter Sunday's game at Sacred Heart just 22 points away from the Patriot League career scoring record.
*McCollum already has games of 36 and 35 points this season and is third in the country with 25.6 points per game for the year.
*Bucknell's 5-0 start is its best since the 2005-06 season.
*A win for the Bison over Penn State on Friday would mean a 6-0 start for the first time since 1983-84, and first for any Patriot League team since 2007-08.
*Patriot League teams are a combined 10-3 at home.
*Every team has won at home after Lehigh beat Fairfield on Monday night.
*Bucknell's Mike Muscala was named Patriot League Anaconda Player of the Week Monday for averaging 18.0 points and 11.3 rebounds in a 4-0 week.
*Muscala stands third in the Patriot League with 17.2 points per game and ranks first with 11.0 rebounds per contest.
*American's Stephen Lumpkins is averaging 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in his return after sitting out the 2011-12 season.
*The Patriot League was one of the first four Division I conferences to have each team record a win over a DI opponent.

Patriot League Notebook

Lehigh's McCollum Closing in on Patriot League Scoring Record
Lehigh's C.J. McCollum has already set precedents in the Patriot League, and now he'll have a chance to reach the top of the list in the most significant career categroy. McCollum enters Sunday's game at Sacred Heart just 22 points away from the Patriot League record of 2,224 set by Holy Cross' Rob Feaster (1991-95). McCollum has made an early push at the mark by averaging 25.6 points per game for the season, including efforts of 36 and 35 points in Lehigh's first five games. The senior guard ranks third in the NCAA in scoring entering the weekend. McCollum is a candidate for both the Wooden Award and Naismith Award and was a first-team preseason All-America selection from the Associated Press, Sporting News and a panel at He was also named a fourth-team preseason All-American by CBS Sports and the Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year along with a host of other accolades and recognition.

Another Big Ten Win for Bucknell?
Bucknell already owns wins over 2012 NCAA Tournament teams Purdue and New Mexico State, and also knocked off perennial CAA contender George Mason. The victory over Purdue was the first for Bucknell over a Big Ten opponent, and third for a Patriot League team. Two of those have come within a calendar year as Lafayette posted a 61-57 win at Penn State on Dec. 7 of last year. The Bison will try to add to the list when they visit Penn State Friday, where a win would make Bucknell 6-0 for the first time since 1983-84. The last Patriot League team to open with six wins was Holy Cross in 2007-08.

Muscala Leading the Bison to Best Start Since 2005-06
Bucknell has a 5-0 record that is its best mark since 2005-06, and it's no surprise who is leading the way. Senior center Mike Muscala averaged 18.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting 54.3 percent from the field and 81.5 percent at the line in four victories last week. He is one of only three active players with at least 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 100 blocks and 100 assists in his career. Muscala stands third in the Patriot League with 17.2 points per game and ranks first with 11.0 rebounds per contest. He earned some national publicity Monday on's "Pick `n' Roll" college basketball column, where he was named to the "Weekly Starting Five" along with Michigan State's Keith Appling, Duke's Seth Curry, Wichita State's Carl Hall and Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart.

Bucknell, Lehigh Receiving National Respect
Lehigh earned most of the preseason recognition following its NCAA Tournament win over Duke last season, but it's Bucknell that is beginning to draw praise in 2012-13 with its 5-0 start. The Bison have moved up to No. 7 in the College Insider Mid-Major top 25 poll, one spot ahead of the No. 8 Mountain Hawks. Bucknell also picked up nine points in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and five in the Associated Press top 25 on Monday.

Winning Against Regional Foes
Patriot League teams have done a solid job in overall non-League play with a 22-17 record, and it's even more impressive against teams outside of the "Big-Six" conferences. Patriot League squads are 19-8 against Division I foes outside of those top conferences, and a staggering 17-2 against regional conferences including the America East, CAA, Ivy League, MAAC, NEC and MEAC. There are five games against teams from those leagues on the weekend schedule.

Home Cooking
Every Patriot League team has won at home after Lehigh opened its slate at Stabler Arena with an 82-67 victory over Fairfield on Monday. Five Patriot League teams opened their home schedules last week, and each posted a victory. After Bucknell beat George Mason 61-56 on Tuesday, Colgate topped Marist 74-60 and Holy Cross held off Maine 57-54 on Wednesday in home openers and American knocked off Mount St. Mary's 62-57 on Thursday. Army completed the run with an 85-76 win over Binghamton on Friday. Patriot League teams are 10-3 on their own court this season after Lehigh added another win by beating Penn on Tuesday to wrap up the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Everyone In the Win Column
Colgate became the last Patriot League team to earn its first win on Nov. 14, while that victory coupled with Navy's triumph over Binghamton put the League in elite company early in the year. At the time, the Patriot League was one of only four conferences in the nation where every team had a win over a Division I opponent. The only other leagues in that company were the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten and Southeastern Conference (SEC). The Patriot League was one of eight conferences where every team had a win overall, including non-Division I opponents, one week into the season.

Team Notebooks

AMERICAN The Eagles suffered a rare home loss for a Patriot League squad as they fell to San Francisco 67-53 on Monday...The Eagles were within two points at the half before the Dons pulled away with a 16-5 run out of the locker room in the second half...Daniel Munoz led the Eagles with 16 points, while Stephen Lumpkins scored 13...Lumpkins is averaging 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in his return to action after missing the 2011-12 season...He is also second in the League with a 63.6 FG% for the year...American returns to action at Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

ARMY The Black Knights turned a one-point lead into a comfortable 12-point margin with a 12-1 second-half run that spanned nearly six minutes as they went on to a 67-59 win at St. Francis (NY) on Tuesday...Army held a 57-45 lead with less than five minutes left after the surge, and held a margin of at least six points the rest of the way...Ella Ellis led the Black Knights with 15 points, while Kyle Wilson added 13...Army improved to 3-1 for the season with its third consecutive victory...The Black Knights try to keep the winning streak going when they visit Yale on Saturday.

BUCKNELL The Bison are off to their best start since the 2005-06 season as they swept three games at the 2K Sports Classic Subregional in Niagara Falls, N.Y. over the weekend to improve to 5-0 for the year...Mike Muscala earned MVP honors of the subregional as he continued an outstanding run of play to start the season...Muscala had 18 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists as the Bison rallied from a double-digit first-half deficit to pull away for an 88-71 win over host Niagara on Friday...The Bison had six players in double figures for the first time since 2006-07 as Bryson Johnson had 15 points, Joe Willman, Cameron Ayers and Ryan Frazier scored 12 and Steven Kaspar added 11...Muscala followed it up with 24 points and nine rebounds while shooting 11-of-19 from the field in a 62-49 win over defending Western Athletic Conference (WAC) champion New Mexico State on Saturday...He scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting while playing only 20 minutes in a 69-52 rout of Division II West Alabama on Sunday...Muscala had three straight double-doubles to start the year, giving him 27 for his career...He also had a 16-point, 15-rebound performance in Bucknell's 61-56 win over George Mason on Nov. 13 as the Bison won all four of their games last week...He is one of only three active Division I players with career totals of at least 1,000 points, 750 rebounds, 100 blocks and 100 assists...Bucknell went 4-0 in the 2K Sports Classic, including a 70-65 win at Purdue in the season opener on Nov. 9...The Bison joined "champion" Alabama as the only teams to go undefeated in the event...Bucknell aims for its first 6-0 start since 1983-84 when it visits Penn State on Friday...The Bison are going for their second straight win over a Big Ten opponent after the victory against Purdue, and also trying to give the Patriot League a victory over the Nittany Lions in consecutive years following Lafayette's 61-57 triumph in State College last season.

COLGATE The Raiders closed the game with a 13-4 run to knock off St. Francis (PA) 85-76 on the road on Wednesday... After Colgate took a double-digit lead early in the second half, St. Franics (PA) rallied and the score was tied at 72-72 with under three minutes to play...Damon Sherman-Newsome hit a three-pointer with 2:29 left to put the Raiders ahead for good, and Pat Moore delivered the dagger when his three-pointer with 33 seconds to go made it 80-74 as part of Colgate's 13-4 game-closing run...Moore led all scorers with 25 points, while Murphy Burnatowski had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Sherman-Newsome scored 12 as well and Brandon James added 10...The Raiders are back in action on Sunday as they visit No. 6 Syracuse in a game that will be shown on SportsNet New York.

HOLY CROSS The Crusaders hung with a Big East opponent on Wednesday, as the game was tied at halftime and they were within four with nine minutes left before St. John's used a 10-2 run to pull away for a 65-53 win...Dave Dudzinski and Justin Burrell each scored 12 points to lead the Crusaders...It was Holy Cross' first game decided by more than five points, as the Crusaders have wins by 1, 1 and 3 points and a loss by 4...Holy Cross is at home on Saturday afternoon against New Hampshire.

LAFAYETTE The Leopards shot 15-of-32 from three-point range to hang in against a tough ACC opponent, but could not climb back from a 10-point halftime deficit and fell 83-74 at Maryland on Tuesday...The Leopards were down by as many as 19 points in the second half, but stayed close and cut it to eight with two minutes to go in the game...Seth Hinrichs led the Leopards with 20 points while making 6-of-11 three-pointers, while Joey Ptasinski had 14 points, Tony Johnson scored 13 and Levi Giese added 12...The Leopards dropped all three games on a very tough road trip that also included stops at No. 3 Kentucky and Morehead State...All three games were played as part of the Barclays Center Classic...The Leopards return to Easton on Saturday to take on Princeton.

LEHIGH Lehigh won its third game this year over a team that won 20 games last season as it led by one point at halftime before pulling away throughout the second half for a 73-66 victory over Penn on Tuesday...The Mountain Hawks led by 13 points with 3:48 left and never let Penn get closer than seven the rest of the way...C.J. McCollum paced all scorers with 21 points, moving within 22 of the Patriot League career scoring record, while Gabe Knutson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, Mackey McKnight scored 15 and Holden Greiner had 13...Lehigh won for the second straight night after opening its home schedule with an 82-67 victory over Fairfield on Monday...Both games were part of the NIT Season Tip-Off...McCollum led all scorers with 35 points on 12-of-21 from the field, including a highlight reel dunk...Knutson added 17 points, while Greiner had seven points and 11 rebounds...McCollum scored 21 in the first half as Lehigh opened up a 40-30 lead at the break and held a comfortable lead throughout the second half...The Mountain Hawks finished 3-1 in their NIT Season Tip-Off action, with the only loss coming at Pittsburgh...McCollum is averaging 25.6 points per game, and will take his shot at the Patriot League career scoring record when the Mountain Hawks visit Sacred Heart on Sunday...McCollum has 2,202 points, 22 off the mark of 2,224 set by Holy Cross' Rob Feaster (1991-95).

NAVY The Mids fought valiantly against a Big 12 opponent before Brandon Venturini's three-point attempt at the buzzer went in-and-out and TCU held on for a 47-45 win on Tuesday evening...The Mids held an early advantage, but TCU went ahead for good with just under five minutes to play in the game...Worth Smith led Navy with 14 points, while Venturini added 12 and Tilman Dunbar had 10 with six assists....It was Navy's second straight game as part of the South Padre Island Invitational, and the Mids will head to the tournament format of the event this weekend...Navy faces Prairie View Friday and either Fairleigh Dickinson or Delaware State on Saturday in South Padre Island.