Patriot League Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - 12.21.12

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Mike Muscala and Bucknell go for their 12th win of the season on Saturday.
Mike Muscala and Bucknell go for their 12th win of the season on Saturday.

Dec. 21, 2012

Patriot League Men's Basketball Weekend Preview - 12.21.12 Get Acrobat Reader

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Seven Patriot League teams play their last game before Christmas on Saturday, including one who is trying to match the record for non-League wins in the regular season.

Bucknell carries a six-game win streak, and its best start in 105 years, into its matchup at Princeton. At 11-1, the Bison have their top mark through 12 games since the 1907-08 season. A victory would make Bucknell just the third Patriot League team with 12 non-League victories in the regular season, joining Fordham (1990-91) and Lehigh (2011-12).

Four others are on the road, including two who play at ranked opponents. American is at No. 15/21 Georgetown in a game shown on MASN at Noon, while Lafayette visits No. 13/16 Minnesota at 7 p.m. on Big Ten Network. Holy Cross goes to Harvard and Colgate is at St. Francis (NY).

Army and Navy return from their exam breaks with home games, trying to pad the Patriot League's combined mark of 27-6 at home. The Black Knights welcome Rosemont while the Mids host Northern Kentucky in afternoon contests.

Lehigh went into its holiday break with a 90-75 win at North Texas on Thursday despite playing without the nation's top scorer, C.J. McCollum. At 9-2, Lehigh has its best mark through 11 games since 1925-26.

After Saturday, Patriot League teams are all off until at least Dec. 28.

Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PL_MBB
*Bucknell tries to become the third team in Patriot League history to win 12 non-League regular-season games when it visits Princeton Saturday.
*The Bison moved to 11-1 for the first time since the 1907-08 season with a 71-65 win over Marist on Wednesday.
*Lehigh is 9-2 for the first time since the 1925-26 season after beating North Texas 90-75 on Thursday, despite the absence of C.J. McCollum.
*Lehigh has won eight straight games, while Bucknell has claimed six in a row.
*Two Patriot League teams play at ranked opponents on Saturday as American visits No. 15/21 Georgetown and Lafayette is at No. 13/16 Minnesota.
*Both games are televised, with American's contest shown on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) and Lafayette on Big Ten Network.
*Army and Navy are each home for their first game in more than week.
*Patriot League teams are a combined 27-6 at home.
*Patriot League teams are 50-41 overall, and 46-27 against DI teams outside of the BCS leagues.
*The Patriot League is a combined 40-17 against regional conferences including the Atlantic 10, America East, CAA, Ivy League, MAAC, NEC and MEAC.
*Lehigh's C.J. McCollum leads the nation with 24.9 points per game.
*Bucknell's Mike Muscala is up to second place in Patriot League history in both rebounds and blocked shots.

Patriot League Notebook

Bucknell Off to Best Start Since the Cubs Won the World Series
In the year 1908, Christy Mathewson led all National League pitchers with 37 wins, William Howard Taft won the presidential election, and the Chicago Cubs captured their most recent World Series title. That was also the last time Bucknell had 11 or more wins through 12 games, as that 1907-08 Bison squad finished the season a perfect 12-0. That all changed on Wednesday, as the Bison moved to 11-1 for the first time in 105 years with a 71-65 win over Marist. The Bison have posted quality wins over the likes of Purdue, George Mason, New Mexico State, Kent State and La Salle, and received votes in the Associated Press poll on Monday while remaining at No. 5 in the College Mid-Major Top 25. Bucknell is also just outside the top 30 in the Collegiate Basketball News RPI rating. A win on Saturday at Princeton would make Bucknell just the third Patriot League team with 12 non-League victories in the regular season, joining Fordham (1990-91) and Lehigh (2011-12).

Lehigh Has its Top Mark in Nearly 90 Years
Not to be outdone by its rival, Lehigh has its best record through 11 games since the 1925-26 season. The Mountain Hawks improved to 9-2 with a 90-75 victory at North Texas on Thursday, which also gave them their first eight-game regular-season winning streak since that same campaign. The Mountain Hawks won despite the absence of C.J. McCollum, as the nation's leading scorer missed the first game in his collegiate career. Lehigh's only losses this year came against Baylor and Pittsburgh, and the Mountain Hawks are at No. 6 in the College Mid-Major Top 25.

Tough Slate For the Holidays
There won't be many games for Patriot League teams around Christmas and New Year's, but there will be some challenges. Seven teams are in action on Saturday, with five on the road including American at No. 15/21 Georgetown (MASN, Noon), Lafayette at No. 13/16 Minnesota (Big Ten Network, 7 p.m.), Bucknell at Princeton and Holy Cross at Harvard. The action picks back up on Dec. 28 when Bucknell visits Loyola University Maryland and Navy hosts Albany in matchups against teams in the College Mid-Major top 25. The next day American is at No. 8/9 Kansas, Lafayette goes to Stanford, Army travels to Texas A & M and Holy Cross goes to Boston College. After the New Year, the final Saturday before Patriot League play is a challenging one for the top teams as Bucknell goes to No. 12 Missouri and Lehigh is at VCU.

Home Cooking
Patriot League teams are 27-6 on their home courts this year after wins by Lafayette and Bucknell this week. The Bison lead the way with a 5-0 mark at Sojka Pavilion, while Lehigh is perfect 4-0 at home and Holy Cross and Army are 3-0. Navy is up to 4-1 at Alumni Hall while Lafayette is 5-2 at Kirby Sports Center, with four dramatic victories each coming by three points or less or in overtime. Navy and Army will each host contests on Saturday.

Winning Against Regional Foes
Patriot League teams are a combined 50-41 overall in non-League play, and 46-27 against Division I foes outside of the "Big-Six" conferences. The record stands at 40-17 against regional conferences including the Atlantic 10, America East, CAA, Ivy League, MAAC, NEC and MEAC. Most of the mark has come against the NEC, with the Patriot League clinching the series as it holds a 17-7 advantage with two games left.

Lehigh's McCollum Breaking Records, Leading Division I in Scoring
Lehigh senior guard C.J. McCollum is at 24.9 points per game for the season, just ahead of Virginia Tech's Erick Green (24.8) for the top spot in Division I. McCollum has already set the Patriot League career scoring record this year, and his 2,323 points are now 99 ahead of the previous mark. McCollum now has Patriot League career records for field goals made, free throws made and double-figure scoring games.

Bucknell's Muscala a Double-Double Machine
Bucknell senior center Mike Muscala is averaging 18.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, ranking in the top 50 in scoring and 10th in rebounding in Division I. Muscala has seven double-doubles in the first 12 games for the Bison. He moved into second place in Patriot League history in both rebounds and blocked shots on Monday, and his 1,624 points stand 14th in League history and 31 away from a spot in the career top 10.

Team Notebooks

AMERICAN The Eagles were tied at halftime with Hampton on Tuesday, but could not overcome the Pirates in the second half and fell 72-65 on the road...Hampton held a small lead throughout the period, then finally pulled away with a 12-3 run that built the advantage to 63-52 with under three minutes to go...Stephen Lumpkins had his fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 15 rebounds, while Marko Vasic also scored 12 and Ausin Carroll added 11...Lumpkins is now into the Patriot League career top 10 with 698 rebounds, and is sixth in the League in scoring (15.5 ppg) and second in rebounding (8.6 rpg) this season...American has a pair of ranked opponents coming up on the schedule with a visit to No. 15/21 Georgetown on Saturday (Noon, MASN) and a trip to No. 8/9 Kansas on Dec. 29.

ARMY The Black Knights were the only team with multiple games last week, beating Maine 96-67 on Friday after falling to NJIT 69-67 on Dec. 11.. The Black Knights led 24-22 with just under nine minutes to go in the first half against Maine, then closed the period with a 30-6 stretch to effectively put the game away with a 54-28 halftime lead...Five players scored in double figures, as Kyle Wilson had 18, Ella Ellis added 17, Larry Toomey and Kyle Toth each scored 11 and Josh Herbeck pitched in 10...Army improved to 3-0 at home for the season...It came after a heartbreaking loss as a 7-0 run in the final 1:21 and a layup with one second left propelled NJIT to a 69-67 win at home against Army...The Black Knights held a 63-51 advantage before NJIT charged back in the final three minutes...The Highlanders tied the score at 67-67 on a three-pointer with 16 seconds left, then capitalized on an Army turnover to get the game-winning layup and complete the comeback...Ellis led the Black Knights with 16 points, Andrew Stire scored a career-high 13 and Wilson added 10...Ellis stands second in the Patriot League with 19.4 points per game and has scored in double figures in 13 straight games and 42 of the last 43 contests...Army had a week-long exam break before hosting Rosemont on Saturday.

BUCKNELL Bucknell moved to 11-1 for the first time since 1907-08 as the Bison held off a fight from Marist for a 71-65 win at home on Wednesday..Mike Muscala led the way with a fantastic game with 26 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, four assists and three steals...Bucknell won for the sixth straight time and improved to 5-0 at home this season...The game was tied 37-37 at the half, and Marist opened up a 56-51 lead with under nine minutes to play...Bucknell responded with a 12-2 run, taking the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Bryson Johnson with 4:07 to go...Marist got to within two points three times in the final minutes, but the Bison hit 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch to seal the win...Joe Willman scored 15 points for Bucknell, while Cameron Ayers added 12...The Bison became one of only 12 teams in the country with 11 wins or more on the season...Previously, Bucknell moved to 10-1 for the first time since the 1926-27 season after a dominating 76-49 victory at St. Francis (Pa.) on Monday...The Bison led from the opening tip, leading 11-2 just over four minutes into the contest and coasting to a 42-19 advantage at halftime...Bucknell held a lead of at least 19 points throughout the second half as it went on to the 76-49 win...Ayers led the Bison with 13 points, while Muscala, Willman and Bryson Johnson scored 12 apiece...Bucknell held a 43-23 rebounding edge and shot 27-of-49 from the field while limiting the Red Flash to 16-of-54 shooting...The Bison improved to 4-1 on the road...Bucknell is receiving votes in this week's Associated Press top 25, while remaining at No. 5 in the Mid-Major top 25...Bucknell plays at Princeton on Saturday, where a win would make the Bison just the third team in Patriot League history to record 12 non-League wins during the regular season...Fordham (1990-91) and Lehigh (2011-12) are the only schools to pull off the feat.

COLGATE Colgate suffered its fifth straight loss in a 79-45 defeat at Providence on Tuesday...The Friars pulled away with a 40-17 advantage in the second half...Murphy Burnatowski and Damon Sherman-Newsome led Colgate with 11 points apiece...Burnatowski stands fifth in the Patriot League with 15.7 points per game...Colgate wraps up its pre-holiday slate with a visit to St. Francis (NY) on Saturday.

HOLY CROSS Holy Cross made a long road trip pay off with a 73-63 win at San Francisco on Tuesday... The Crusaders were led by junior Dave Dudzinski, who scored a career-high 31 points on 11-of-16 shooting to pace the effort...Holy Cross used a 7-1 run late in the first half to build a 43-36 lead at the break, and put together an 8-0 stretch in the second half to extend the advantage to 60-46 with 10 minutes left...San Francisco cut the gap down to 66-59, but the Crusaders held the Dons scoreless for three minutes to hold on for the win...Justin Burrell added 15 points for the Crusaders, who held San Francisco to 5-of-20 shooting from three-point range...Holy Cross leads the Patriot League and is in the top 20 nationally in three-point field-goal percentage defense at 24.8% for the year...Dudzinski is averaging 14.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest, and leads the Patriot League with 3.2 offensive rebounds per game...Holy Cross plays its last game before Christmas on Saturday at Harvard.

LAFAYETTE Lafayette opened up a 49-26 halftime lead and went up by as many as 30 in the second half to cruise to an 86-62 victory over Division III Arcadia on Tuesday...Dan Trist and Seth Hinrichs led the Leopards with 14 points apiece, while Bryce Scott scored 10....Twelve players scored in the game for Lafayette, which won its fourth straight home game and improved to 5-2 at Kirby Sports Center this season...Trist and Hinrichs hit right at their averages for the season, as the sophomores are in the top 10 in the Patriot League with 14.8 and 14.3 points per game, respectively...The schedule gets much tougher before the New Year as Lafayette visits No. 13/16 Minnesota on Saturday (Big Ten Network, 7 p.m.) and travels to Stanford on Dec. 29.

LEHIGH Playing without the nation's leading scorer, Lehigh still had little trouble putting up points and blew out North Texas 90-75 on Thursday night..Lehigh extended its winning streak to eight as the Mountain Hawks improve to 9-2 after 11 games...It marks their best start after 11 games since the 1925-26 season (87 years) while the eight-game winning streak is their longest in the regular season since that same campaign...Lehigh blew the game open in the first half, finishing the period on a 34-12 run to take a 52-33 advantage into the break...The lead rose as high as 21 points as Lehigh was up by double digits throughout the second half on its way to the 15-point win...Gabe Knutson led the way with 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while Mackey McKnight totaled 25 points and seven assists...Lehigh had another strong shooting night both overall (32-of-66) and from three-point range (11-of-23) while holding North Texas to 1-of-11 from beyond the arc...The Mountain Hawks played without preseason All-American C.J. McCollum, who missed the first game of his collegiate career with a mild ankle injury... Nearly 60 NBA scouts were in attendance to see McCollum and North Texas' Tony Mitchell, who scored 22 points. McCollum leads the nation with 24.9 points per game...Lehigh played its final game before the holidays, and returns on Dec. 29 when it hosts Bryant.

NAVY The Mids are 4-1 at Alumni Hall this season, and are back home on Saturday against Northern Kentucky... Navy is concluding an 11-day break for finals with a 6-6 record, already three more wins than it totaled all of last season...In its most recent action, Navy closed the game on an 18-7 run to go into its exam break with a 69-59 win over Bryant on Dec. 10 in Annapolis...In a game with six ties and 12 lead changes, the Mids trailed 52-51 with 6:42 to play...Tilman Dunbar put Navy ahead for good on a layup with 5:45 left as part of an 11-3 surge that built the lead to 62-55 when Kendall Knorr canned a three-pointer with 2:03 to go...Knorr went 7-of-8 at the foul line in the final minute to seal the 10-point win...Knorr led all scorers with 15 points, while Dunbar (13), James Loupos (11) and Brandon Venturini (10) also finished in double figures for the Mids...Dunbar finished with 10 assists to record his second double-double of the year...He was named Patriot League Anaconda Rookie of the Week for the second straight time on Monday...He leads all Division I freshmen with 70 assists and 5.8 assists per game, which also tops the Patriot League...Dunbar is averaging 17.0 points and 7.3 assists in the last three games.