Morgan State (17-13) vs. Hampton (23-8)
Saturday, March 12th, 2:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum (14,665) -- Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Morgan State 10-2, Hampton 8-3. Away Record: Morgan State 3-10, Hampton 8-5. Neutral Record: Morgan State 4-1, Hampton 7-0. Conference Record: Morgan State 10-6, Hampton 11-5. Series Record: Hampton leads, 19-10.
GAME NOTES: The Morgan State Bears try to capture their third straight Mid- Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament championship this afternoon, as the team matches up against the Hampton Pirates at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Fourth-seeded Morgan State, which defeated Norfolk State in 2009 (83-69) and South Carolina State (68-61) last year for the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, began the quest this season with a 77-59 win over North Carolina A&T on Thursday and followed it up with a 61-48 blowout of top-seeded Bethune- Cookman on Friday.
As for the second-seeded Pirates, a squad that won it all in 2006 versus Delaware State (60-56) and has three trophies total in the last decade, they conquered Maryland-Eastern Shore three days ago in a 77-55 final and then took down Norfolk State on Friday night, 85-61.
Morgan State won the only regular-season meeting between these two squads back in January with a 78-72 final, which means the all-time series now favors Hampton by a count of 19-10, even though the Bears have now won three in a row.
The defense played huge for the Bears against Bethune-Cookman as they held the opposition to just 38.8 percent shooting from the field and 3-of-13 behind the three-point line. Bethune-Cookman didn't do itself any favors by shooting only 7-of-13 at the free-throw line either. Kevin Thompson led all scorers with 22 points, shooting 9-of-15 from the floor off the bench, adding seven rebounds and three assists for Morgan State. Larry Bastfield accounted for 15 points and DeWayne Jackson 11 and six boards in the triumph as well. Over the course of 30 games this season Jackson has generated a team-best 14.1 ppg, although his mere 24.9 percent accuracy from three-point range has been rather weak. Thompson chips in with 13.2 ppg, but in his case 58.7 percent accuracy at the free-throw line just isn't good enough to keep him on the floor all the time.
Hampton trailed by double figures in the first half against the Spartans yesterday, but then the Pirates converted 20-of-27 at the free-throw line after the break and cruised to the lopsided win in the semifinals. Hampton, which knocked down just 1-of-3 at the charity stripe in the first half, was paced by Kwame Morgan with his 30 points on 4-of-9 shooting behind the three- point line and a perfect 8-of-8 at the charity stripe. Darrion Pellum was responsible for another 18 points, seven boards and five steals, while Danny Agbelese came up a point shy of a double-double as he cleared 11 rebounds. Pellum is putting up a team-best 17.9 ppg right now, while ironically enough it is Morgan who might pose just as big of a threat to Morgan State with his 16.7 ppg and 37.3 percent accuracy behind the three-point line. Between the two of them they've made good on 169 threes this season, the rest of the Pirates a collective 36 beyond the arc.
If Pellum and Morgan can get loose out on the perimeter for Hampton, the Bears will have a hard time keeping the score down today and that should play right into the hands of the Pirates.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hampton 75, Morgan State 69
03/12 10:35:32 ET