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The Statesman

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College Basketball Preview: Stony Brook vs. Maine

Stony Brook’s men’s basketball team is preparing for its biggest game of the season, as they will host Maine on Saturday in a nationally televised ESPNU broadcast at Stony Brook Arena. This will be the second year in a row that ESPNU will bring its cameras to Stony Brook and the first regular-season national home telecast in program history.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase not only our basketball team but to showcase our school spirit and pride,” Director of Athletics Jim Fiore said. “It’s great exposure for our university and we’re really excited about it.”

ESPNU reaches 73.5 million homes across the country. Last year, the Seawolves hosted Illinois in a first-round NIT game for their first nationally televised game. This will be the third game of the season televised on the ESPN family of networks.

“When I first took over the program, we couldn’t get on local TV,” head coach Steve Pikiell said. “To have an opportunity to play a home regular-season game on ESPNU is tremendous for our players and for our university.”

The Seawolves are coming off a 63-56 win over New Hampshire on Wednesday to improve to 10-14 overall and 5-7 in the America East Conference, moving to fifth place in the league. Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.) led the way with 16 points and Leonard Hayes (Voorhees, N.J.) chipped in with 11 points. The team had one of its better shooting nights of the season, shooting 41.5 percent from the field.

Stony Brook also hit 11 three-pointers, matching a season-high, on 46 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Maine (14-10) is currently second in the America East with an 8-4 conference record. The Black Bears are ranked first in the conference in scoring offense, averaging 70.8 points per game. Senior Troy Barnies leads the team with 14.6 points per game, ranking seventh in the conference, while junior Gerald McLemore averages 13.4 points per game which is good for tenth in the conference.

Maine lost its third straight game on Thursday, falling to Hartford 74-65. McLemore scored a team-high 18 points and was the only player to score in double figures. Barnies was held to just six points.

The Black Bears defeated the Seawolves 70-59 in the first meeting. Hayes led Stony Brook with a career-high 22 points. He has started every game since then and has become an integral part of the team, earning the praise of his coach.

“He’s been really good,” Pikiell said. “He’s really worked hard to give himself an opportunity with all the injuries we’ve battled through. He stepped up and took advantage of his opportunity and I’m really happy for him.”

The game is part of Seawolves Winterfest 2011, with the women’s team also playing Maine at 2 p.m. Pikiell urged the students to come to the game, stressing the importance of their support.

“I want them to come,” he said emphatically. “We need their continued support because when they come we play better.”

Fiore also urged the students to attend the game, adding that he wanted everyone to be wearing red.

“We need the students to come out,” Fiore said. “We want the whole place dressed in red so we really need the students to come out and showcase the spirit of Stony Brook.”

Tipoff is set for 11 a.m.

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