Men’s Basketball Opens America East Play Hosting Hartford on Saturday

GAME NOTES

COVERAGE: America East.tv

Twitter: @UAlbany_MBB

            LIVE STATS

ALBANY, N.Y. – University at Albany men’s basketball (6-7) begins the road to defending its America East Championship this Saturday at 7 p.m., against Hartford. The Great Danes lead the league series 15-10 and have won the last five meetings. The America East opener is also Youth Night, and all children under 12 years of age will receive free admission.

In the final non-conference game of the season, UAlbany held Pitt to just 58 points, 21 points below its season average, but fell 58-46 in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve.

DJ Evans scored a game-high 18 points, with 15 in the second half. The senior point guard went 4-for-6 from three, 4-for-4 from the line and 5-for-10 from the field.

Sam Rowley nearly tallied his third double-double of the season with 10 points and eight boards. The junior forward dished out a career-high five assists in the loss.

The Great Danes went 9-for-10 (.900) from the charity stripe, while Pitt was just 9-for-16 (.563).

NON-CONFERENCE RECAP

• The Great Danes closed non-conference play at 6-7, the first time UAlbany has finished its non-conference slate under .500 since the 2010-11 season, when UAlbany went 6-7 as well.

• UAlbany posted its top free throw percentage in non-conference play all-time since joining the Division I ranks (.775).

• The Purple & Gold is averaging 11.9 turnovers per game, its lowest average all-time in Division I non-conference play. The Great Danes have committed 155 turnovers in 13 games, the fewest for the program since the 2004-05 non-conference schedule.

• For the ninth season since joining the America East, at least three players are averaging double-digits in scoring, including Peter Hooley (14.2 ppg), Sam Rowley (13.3 ppg) and DJ Evans (11.8 ppg).

Peter Hooley is the first sophomore since Levi Levine in 2003-04 to lead the Great Danes in scoring (14.2 ppg).

FREE THROW MASTERS

UAlbany is ranked third in the nation in free throw percentage at .775 (217-280). The Great Danes lead the league for the eighth consecutive week. Hartford ranks second in the category at .720 (208-289).

AUSSIE CENTRAL

Both UAlbany and Hartford boast a number of Australia players on their respective rosters. The Great Danes have four Aussies, while the Hawks have three. Freshman Mike Rowley and Hartford freshman Dougal Weir played together on the FIBA U-19 Emus team for Australia this past summer.

HOME SWEET HOME

The Great Danes are playing their first America East game at home for the fifth straight season. UAlbany has won four of its last five league home openers and three in a row at SEFCU Arena.

SCOUTING HARTFORD

• UAlbany has won the last five meetings, dating back to the 2010-11 season. Prior to The Purple & Gold’s five-game winning streak, the Hawks won three straight. The Great Danes lead the all-time series 20-9 and the America East series 15-10, including a 9-3 record at SEFCU Arena.

• Hartford enters its America East schedule off of a 73-67 loss at Washington on Dec. 29. The Hawks closed their non-conference season 5-9.

• Mark Nwakamma leads the Hawks on offense with 16.9 points per game. The 2013-14 Preseason America East team selection leads the league in scoring and ranks third in field goal percentage. The only other Hawk averaging double figures is Yolonzo Moore II at 10.3 ppg.

• John Gallagher’s squad was picked to finish just behind the Great Danes at No. 4 in the preseason coaches’ poll.