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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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Stony Brook men’s basketball welcomes slumping N.C. A&T

Center Keenan Fitzmorris jumps for joy on the sideline while the Stony Brook men’s basketball team celebrates a field goal against Hampton on Thursday, Feb. 15. Fitzmorris and company will host North Carolina A&T tomorrow night. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

With four games left in the regular season, the slumping Stony Brook men’s basketball team will have an opportunity to get hot against one of the Coastal Athletic Association’s (CAA) weak links.

The Seawolves (14-13, 7-7 CAA) will take the court at Island Federal Arena on Thursday against the North Carolina A&T (N.C. A&T) Aggies (7-20, 5-9 CAA). Opening tip-off is scheduled for 6:31 p.m. Both teams will be motivated to get a win, as Stony Brook has been blown out twice in a three-game span while N.C. A&T has lost four in a row.

The Seawolves faced the Aggies three times last year and beat them twice. The last meeting came in the opening round of the 2023 CAA men’s basketball tournament, where Stony Brook beat N.C. A&T 76-61.

The Aggies are the worst scoring team in the CAA, averaging 66.1 points per game. They have shot just 39.5% from the field and 29.2% from three-point territory this year, ranking dead last in both categories. Their .709 free throw percentage is the fifth-worst rate in the CAA.

Shooting guard Landon Glasper carries much of the load for N.C. A&T’s offense. He is the second-leading scorer in the CAA with 21.3 points per game, but he has struggled with his efficiency, posting just a .365/.316/.775 shooting line. He also dishes out 2.2 assists per game.

Point guard Camian Shell is the team’s second-leading scorer with 12.8 points per game on a .376/.298/.863 triple slash. His 4.3 assists per game led the team and rank third in the CAA.

Outside of Glasper and Shell, the scoring numbers take a big dip. Point guard Kyle Duke is the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 6.3 points per game on 39.7% shooting from the field. Duke runs the second unit and is third on the team with 1.4 assists per game.

The Aggies’ most-efficient scorer is power forward Jeremy Robinson, who leads them with a .542 field goal percentage and ranks third on the roster with 7.5 points per game. However, he has not played since Feb. 1 and will remain sidelined with an injury on Thursday night. After him, power forward Nikolaos Chitikoudis is averaging 6.4 points per contest on 49.2% shooting.

Center Jason Murphy is one of their more reliable players in the paint, as his .465 field goal percentage is second best amongst their active regulars in the rotation.

Glasper and shooting guard Jalal McKie lead the team in three-point percentage, shooting 31.6% and 30.3%, respectively. McKie has struggled recently, as he is shooting just 23.5% from downtown over his last five games. Small forward Uchenna Kellman-Nicholes ranks second on N.C. A&T with 107 three-point attempts but has made just 28.0% of them.

Though these poor numbers ideally favor the Seawolves, they have shown the ability to let bad offenses have coming out parties against them, such as Towson and Campbell. In just a span of three games, Stony Brook has fallen from the sixth-best scoring defense in the CAA to the sixth worst with 72.8 points allowed per game.

The Seawolves still own some formidable numbers. They are holding opponents to 43.4% shooting from the field which is the sixth-best mark in the conference. However, their downfall is their perimeter defense, as they own the second-worst opponent’s three-point percentage (.358) in the league.

Though Stony Brook’s defense has been questionable, it has done a good job shutting down high-volume scorers. It held Monmouth shooting guard Xander Rice — the third-leading scorer in the CAA — to just three points on 1-of-9 shooting on Saturday. If small forwards Tyler Stephenson-Moore and Sabry Philip alongside shooting guard Dean Noll can shut down Glasper on Thursday like they did Rice, that would give it a huge leg up.

Noll’s 1.5 steals per game are the fifth most in the CAA. However, he has recorded zero in his last four games after leading the conference for most of the entire season up until these last two weeks. Stephenson-Moore has active hands as well, as his 1.1 steals per game are a career-high figure. Though the two are good defenders on the wing, the Aggies are averaging the second-fewest turnovers per game (9.4) as a team.

Center Chris Maidoh has been the de facto defensive anchor for the Seawolves, as his 100.00 defensive rating leads the team. Maidoh makes plays on the ball, as he is averaging 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. Fellow center Keenan Fitzmorris leads Stony Brook in blocks and is tied for ninth in the CAA with precisely one per game. Stephenson-Moore has had a career year as a rim protector as well, blocking 15 shots (0.6 per game).

Fitzmorris is one of four Seawolves averaging double figures this season, putting up 10.9 points per game on 50.8% shooting from the field and 81.6% from the free-throw line. Just below him is Noll, who is averaging 10.2 points per game on a .402/.358/.778 shooting line. Just above Fitzmorris on the team’s scoring leaderboard is point guard Aaron Clarke with 13.5 points per game on a .409/.348/.769 triple slash.

Clarke leads the team with 2.6 assists per game, followed by Noll’s 2.1 and shooting guard Jared Frey’s 2.0.

Stephenson-Moore paces the squad and ranks eighth in the CAA with 15.2 points per contest on .431/.396/.819 shooting.

Other than the double-figure scorers, Stony Brook has some other solid options. Maidoh is scoring 7.1 points per game on 53.6% shooting from the field, while Frey is shooting 36% from deep and 76.2% from the charity stripe.

Despite the depth of options, the Seawolves rank only ninth in the CAA with 72.0 points per game. They do miss a lot of shots, as their .431 field goal percentage is the fourth-worst number in the league.

Luckily for Stony Brook, its opponents do not defend well, surrendering the second-most points per game (77.9) in the conference. Opponents shoot 48.4% against N.C. A&T, which is the worst rate in the CAA.

The Aggies do not make a lot of plays on the ball. Glasper leads them with 1.4 steals per game, just percentage points ahead of Shell. Chitikoudis has swiped another 1.1 takeaways per contest.

One thing N.C. A&T does well is protect the rim, as it ranks fifth with 3.3 blocks per game. Chitikoudis is fourth in the conference with 1.3 blocks per game and tied for fifth with 30 rejections. Though Murphy has missed nine games, he is sixth in the league with 1.2 denials per contest. Power forward Evan Joyner has also chipped in 19 blocks as a backup big.

Stony Brook owns a definitive size advantage, which will help it on the glass. In the paint, the pairing of 6-foot-10 Maidoh and 7-foot Fitzmorris should fare well against Murphy and Chitikoudis.

Both Murphy and Chitikoudis stand at 6-foot-9. Murphy leads the team with 6.3 rebounds per game, followed by Chitikoudis’ 5.0. Those outdo Maidoh’s 5.9 and Fitzmorris’ 4.2, respectively. However, the Seawolves’ leading rebounder — power forward Andre Snoddy — ranks seventh in the CAA with 7.5 boards per contest. Joyner is the only other Aggie to look out for on the glass, as he has averaged 4.2 rebounds this year.

Between Snoddy, Fitzmorris and Maidoh, Stony Brook is the fifth-best rebounding team (36.0 per game) in the conference. The Aggies grab just 31.0 boards on average — the lowest rate in the league.

After missing out on an opportunity to ascend into the CAA’s top five, the Seawolves need to win as many games as possible to get themselves a more favorable tournament schedule. Tomorrow night will be a prime opportunity for them to do just that.

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