February 6, 2012

NEC Rivalry Week: Men's Basketball Hosts Central Connecticut Wednesday Night

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (13-10, 6-6 NEC) vs
Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils (10-12, 7-5 NEC)
Wednesday, February 8, 2012 – 7 p.m.
TD Bank Sports Center – Hamden, Conn.
QU Last Five: 4-1
CCSU Last Five: 1-4

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NEC Rivalry Week: Bobcats Host Blue Devils Wednesday Night
Fresh off its fourth win its last five games, the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team (13-10, 6-6 NEC) welcomes long-standing rival Central Connecticut State University to the TD Bank Sports Center on Wednesday night. The showdown kicks off rivalry week in the Northeast Conference, as the two teams will turn around and face off again on Sunday. After two impressive wins in New Jersey this past weekend, CCSU remains just one game ahead of the Bobcats in the standings, setting the stage for an exciting week.  

All-Time Against Central Connecticut
The Wednesday night affair marks the 70th meeting between the two schools, a rivalry that dates back to the 1956-57 campaign. The Blue Devils control the all-time series lead, 50-19, however have not fared well of late against the Bobcats. Over the last three seasons, QU has won six out of the last seven games and is currently riding a five-game winning streak.  

Scouting The Blue Devils
After a 6-1 start in conference play, the Blue Devils have endured a difficult stretch over the past three weeks. CCSU is 1-4 during the five-game stint, averaging five points below its season-average and shooting just 27 percent from behind the arc. Most recently, Central Connecticut was defeated by LIU Brooklyn, 95-80, in New York, a game that featured 29 points from senior forward Ken Horton. Horton leads a group of three players, who account for 79 percent of the team's total offense. Horton ranks second in the league with 19.8 points per game, while Robby Ptacek and Kyle Vinales bring in 18.5 and 17.8 points per outing, respectively, good enough for third and fourth in the NEC. Defensively, the Blue Devils reside in the middle of the pack in scoring defense (70.9 ppg.), but fall all the way to ninth place in field goal percentage defense.

Last Time Against CCSU
Dave Johnson scored a career-high 17 points at the time, as the Bobcats earned a 68-67 victory against intrastate NEC rival Central Connecticut, at Detrick Gym. James Johnson added 13 of his 15 points in the second half, including three three-pointers, while Jamee Jackson chimed in with four points and a team-high eight boards. For the game, the Bobcats outshot CCSU, 47.4 percent (27-57) to 35.4 percent (17-48) from the floor and 35.7 percent (5-14) to 28.6 percent (2-7) from long range. CCSU took a 73.8 percent (31-42) to 52.9 percent (9-17) edge at the free-throw line, and outrebounded QU, 37-33. 

On The Air
Wednesday's game will be broadcasted online through Quinnipiac Bobcats TV and can be heard live on AM 1220 WQUN by clicking the appropriate links posted on www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com. The voice of the Bobcats, Bill Schweizer, will have the play-by-play call, with Bill Mecca and Bob Tipson providing color commentary. Fans can also tune into live stats as well.

Last Time Out Against Monmouth
James Johnson tossed in a game-high 18 points on Saturday night, as QU cruised to a Northeast Conference victory at Monmouth University, 71-48, at the Multipurpose Athletic Center in West Long Branch, N.J. With the win, the Bobcats have now defeated the Hawks in six straight meetings, winning five of those match-ups by double-digits. For the second consecutive game, QU's defense was outstanding and a major factor in the result. The Bobcats held the Hawks to 7.7 percent (1-13) from behind the arc and 32.7 percent (17-52) overall. In addition, Quinnipiac accounted for six blocks from four different players and three steals.

Alone At The Top
Ousmane Drame has been a force on the glass in his rookie season for the Bobcats. Drame hauled in 10 rebounds against Monmouth on Saturday, setting a new freshman record for rebounds in a single-season. He hauled in his 167th rebound, surpassing Justin Rutty (144) and Ike Azotam (166), who previously owned the top two slots. He is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game this year, a mark that ranks him ninth in the league and first amongst the NEC's freshman class.

Heating Up In February
With their last two wins, the Bobcats improved to 21-5 (.808) in the month of February over the last four seasons. Quinnipiac has managed to hold opponents to just 39 percent from the floor, while shooting at a 45 percent clip.   

Under 50
For the first time in Division I program history, the Bobcats held back-to-back opponents under 50 points. Quinnipiac held Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth to just 32 percent shooting from the field, which also included a dismal 7.7 percent (2-26) from long distance.

Just Like Ike
Ike Azotam leads the Northeast Conference and is 28th in the nation in rebounding (9.7 per game), and leads the NEC and ranks eighth in the country in offensive rebounding (4.0 per game). Azotam posted his 11th double-double of the season with his performance against FDU on Thursday and moved closer to fourth place in career double-doubles among active NEC players. Azotam has reached double-figures in two statistical categories 13 times for the Bobcats, just one behind Alex Francis of Bryant University. He also has the nation's sixth best rebounding performance (18 rebounds against Yale, Nov. 15) and 12th best scoring performance (32 against Niagara, Dec. 22).

Johnson Approaches 1,600
James Johnson netted 18 points against the Hawks on Saturday night, moving closer to 11th place on the all-time scoring list. Johnson, now with 1,587 career-points, is 14 points shy of Miazga's mark of 1,601. He recently surpassed Justin Rutty's point total of 1,521, which also moved him ahead into second amongst all-time division I scorers as well.

Among The Elite
Quinnipiac has once again established itself as a national power on the boards. The Bobcats lead the nation in offensive rebounds per game (17.5) and are second in rebounds per game (44.0) and in rebounding margin (11.7). This marks the third consecutive season that QU has cracked the top-10 in rebounding; including a second place finish (42.3 per game) in 2010-11. (Behind North Carolina – 42.5 per game)

Rebounding Margin Factors In
Rebounding has become the identity of the Bobcats under the direction of Head Coach Tom Moore. Through 149 games with Moore at the helm, Quinnipiac has only failed to out-rebound an opponent 25 times. In 41 of the 149 games, QU has posted a plus-10 or better rebounding margin, including 11 with plus-20 or better. The Bobcats hold a remarkable 39-2 mark when holding a plus-10 edge and a 10-1 record with plus-20.  

Second Time Around
Quinnipiac has collected 21 offensive rebounds in three of its last four games. The nation's best team in the category turned the extra effort into 60 points through the 120 minutes of play. The Bobcats are averaging 15.7 second-chance points per outing through 23 games this season. Opponents have been held to just 8.3 second-chance points per game, which includes holding BU, SHU (12/3) and FDU to just three. Furthermore, the Bobcats have registered at least 15 second-chance points 16 times this season, boasting 20 points or more on four separate occasions.  

Trio Fares Well In January
Ike Azotam, James Johnson and Dave Johnson found a nice rhythm offensively during the month of January. Azotam led the way, registering 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting at a 52.8 percent clip. James Johnson poured in 16.9 points, hauled in 4.6 rebounds and nabbed a team-high 1.7 steals in 39 minutes per game. Dave Johnson averaged 12 points, 5.4 rebounds and four assists per outing, which also included three performances with his career-high of 18 points.

Fun Fact
The Bobcats scored 568 points last month, incredibly the same combined number of their opponents. QU and its opponents averaged 71 points per outing through eight contests.

Second Half Surge
The Bobcats held the Mountaineers to just nine field goals for a total of 18 points in the second half on Jan. 26. QU held the Mount to 36 percent (9-25) shooting, which included a 16-2 run following the intermission. 

On Deck: Rivalry Week
The Bobcats will make the short trip to New Britain, Conn. for the backend of the two-game series on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m. with live coverage on MSG.   

Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu