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The Statesman

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Stony Brook men’s basketball has bounce-back chance against last-place Hampton

Power forward Andre Snoddy drives through Northeastern center Collin Metcalf on Saturday, Feb. 3. Snoddy’s performance on the glass tomorrow versus Hampton will be crucial in the Stony Brook men’s basketball team’s hopes for victory. MACKENZIE YADDAW/THE STATESMAN

Following a nightmarish defensive performance on Saturday, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team will look to get back on track against the worst team in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA).

The Seawolves (13-12, 6-6 CAA) will defend Island Federal Arena against the invading Hampton Pirates (5-20, 0-12 CAA) on Thursday night. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 6:31 p.m. When the two sides last met on Jan. 28, 2023, Stony Brook beat Hampton 71-66.

Despite being winless in conference play, the Pirates have the sixth-best scoring offense in the CAA with 74.1 points per game. Power forward Kyrese Mullen is the fuel to their offense, as he leads the team and ranks eighth in the CAA with 15.0 points per game while shooting 46.2% from the field. However, Mullen struggles from three-point range (28.9%) and the free-throw line (57.4%).

Small forward Tedrick Wilcox Jr. is averaging 11.5 points per game while shooting 42.2% from the field and 33.8% from deep. Point guard Jordan Nesbitt and center Jerry Deng are on the precipice of double-digit scoring averages, as they currently sit at 9.9 and 9.8 points per game, respectively. Deng is the more efficient scorer of the two, shooting 48.0% from the field and 42.5% from deep. Nesbitt has struggled to a .365 field goal percentage.

Other than Wilcox Jr. and Deng, the only other effective floor-spacer on Hampton’s team is shooting guard Tristan Maxwell, who owns a .333 three-point shooting percentage on 90 attempts. As a team, the Pirates only shoot 32.6% from range — the 10th-worst rate in the CAA.

Hampton moves the ball well, ranking fifth in the conference with 13.3 assists per game. Nesbitt leads the team with 4.5 assists per game, which ranks second in the league. Maxwell contributes another 2.6 dimes per contest, followed by Wilcox Jr.’s two. Point guard Ford Cooper is the team’s fourth-leading passer and helps run the second unit effectively, as he owns a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Two players missing from the Pirates’ lineup are point guard Amir Nesbitt — no relation to Jordan — and shooting guard Trey Thomas. Nesbitt has missed the last month with an injury, which hurts their offense, as his .447/.393/.750 shooting line is one of the better ones on the team. Thomas is a good shooter who was averaging 7.6 points per game when he went down with an injury on Jan. 27.

Due to Amir Nesbitt and Thomas still being sidelined, small forward Dan Banister Jr. will continue to get some burn on the wing. He has not shot the ball well this year, currently sitting at just 40.7% from the field and 20% from deep.

Though Hampton’s run-and-gun style has it placed second in the conference in pace, it falls in the CAA’s lower tier in all three shooting categories with a .441/.326/.714 shooting line.

The Seawolves will look to expose the weakness in the Pirates’ game and contest them aggressively. After having 95 points hung on it last time out, Stony Brook’s defense has taken a dip from the sixth-ranked scoring defense in the CAA to seventh, holding opponents to 72.3 per game.

The Seawolves’ shot defense took a hit as well, dropping from fourth in the league to seventh in opponent’s field goal percentage (.435).

Small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore and shooting guard Dean Noll will have the responsibility of limiting Hampton’s top wings. Noll is a great pick-pocket, as his 1.6 steals per game place him second in the conference leaderboards. Stephenson-Moore has active hands as well, as he is averaging a steal per game.

Small forward Sabry Philip has solidified himself in Stony Brook’s regular rotation with his strong transition and perimeter defense. Ever since returning to the lineup on Jan. 6, Philip has logged 11.5 minutes per game and has played a role in spoiling opposing teams’ fast-break opportunities.

Centers Chris Maidoh and Keenan Fitzmorris have matched up well against the opposing bigs in the CAA. On Thursday, they will square off with Deng and center Ja’Von Benson in the paint.

Maidoh has created difficulty for opponents trying to finish around the rim all year long. He has made plays on the ball all year, averaging 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. Fitzmorris is in a big tie that places him in the CAA’s top 10 with exactly one block per game. Stephenson-Moore has been sneakily good at swatting shots, rejecting 14 of them this year.

However, Hampton knows how to play with its back to the basket, as well. The 6-foot-8 Benson averages a block per game while 6-foot-7 power forward Joshua Lusane has denied 11 shots in 25 games as a backup four man. Jordan Nesbitt is 6-foot-6 and has used his length to his advantage, blocking 0.8 shots per game.

Height will also come into play on the glass, where the game may be determined. The Pirates grab 36.8 total rebounds per game: the fourth most in the CAA. Mullen — who is 6-foot-7 — leads them and is second in the league with 8.9 boards per contest. Behind him on the team leaderboard is Jordan Nesbitt with 4.6, Benson with 4.5, Wilcox Jr. with 4.4 and the 6-foot-9 Deng with 4.0.

The Seawolves are no slouches on the boards, as they sit right behind them in fifth place with 36.3 rebounds per game. Power forward Andre Snoddy leads the team and is seventh in the conference with 7.1 boards per contest, followed by Maidoh’s 5.9 and Fitzmorris’ 4.2.

Hampton’s rebounding has not saved its defense, as it has surrendered the second-most points per game (78.1) in the CAA. The Pirates are ninth in the conference with a .443 field goal percentage against. However, they are third in the league with a .323 opponent’s three-point field goal percentage.

Stony Brook will look to crack Hampton’s three-point defense, as it is shooting 34.5% from downtown, ranking sixth in the CAA.

Stephenson-Moore has been at the forefront of those efforts, shooting 38.3% from deep, which co-leads the team alongside shooting guard Jared Frey. Point guard Aaron Clarke has been effective for the most part at spacing the floor and has hit on 35.4% of his tries. Noll owns a .359 three-point shooting percentage.

Overall, the Seawolves only average the eighth-most points per game (71.6) in the CAA. However, they have four double-digits scorers. Stephenson-Moore leads them with the ninth-most points per contest in the conference at 14.9. Clarke trails him with 13.8 on 40.8% overall shooting and 76.1% from the foul line.

Noll is third on the team with 10.6 points per game on a .399 field goal percentage. Fitzmorris is averaging 10.4 points while shooting 50% from the field and 79.8% from the charity stripe.

Maidoh has been reliable in the low post this year, averaging 7.0 points per game on a .522 field goal percentage.

Noll leads the offense with 52 assists, while Clarke paces the team’s ball distribution with 2.4 dimes per game. Frey is second on the team with 51 assists and is the third player on Stony Brook’s roster to average at least 2.0 per game.

If the Seawolves can outshoot and outrebound the Pirates, the game may go in their favor. However, if they lose in the physicality department, Hampton may very well get on the board in the conference-win column.

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