Men’s Basketball Takes Two-Game Road Winning Streak to Holy Cross on Wednesday
COVERAGE: Fox Sports 980 AM
ALBANY, N.Y. – University at Albany men’s basketball (4-3) travels to Worcester, Mass., to face Holy Cross (4-3) for the first time in program history at 7 p.m., on Wednesday.
DJ Evans scored 17 second-half points to lead UAlbany past NJIT 66-55 on Sunday afternoon. The senior sent 3-for-4 from 3-point range, including hitting two threes to tie the game in the second half.
Gary Johnson returned after two games to score 12 points and bring down seven rebounds against the Highlanders.
Sam Rowley nearly tallied a double-double, with 12 points and nine rebounds.
John Puk made his 74th career block against the Highlanders, passing former teammate Blake Metcalf on the career blocks leaderboard. Puk is two blocks away from becoming the program’s Division I leader in career blocks.
HOOLEY HONORED BY AMERICA EAST
Sophomore guard Peter Hooley was honored as the America East Player of the Week on Dec. 2 after the Great Danes went 2-0 on the road. Hooley scored 24 points, including a career-high five three-point field goals at Rider on Nov. 26. He also went 7-for-10 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line. The sophomore scored 10 points in a 66-55 win against NJIT on Dec. 1. Hooley leads the team in scoring with 16.3 points per game, and is averaging more than double his points per game from 2012-13 (8.0 ppg).
STEADY AS JOHNSON GOES
Gary Johnson made his return to the Great Danes line-up against NJIT and picked up right where he left off. The senior matched a career high in points (12) and set a new career high in rebounds with seven. Johnson is averaging 10.4 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Johnson has gone 50% or better from the field in all five games he has played in. He has gone 14-for-17 (.823) overall from the free throw line. The senior has also only committed four turnovers this season, the lowest turnover tally among starters.
For the first time this season, five players reach double figures in scoring, including DJ Evans (17), Gary Johnson (12), Sam Rowley (12), Peter Hooley (10) and John Puk (10). The last time the Great Danes had five players score 10 points or more was in an 85-80 loss to Boston University last season. In that game, Jacob Iati (11), Mike Black (20), Hooley (12), Rowley (14) and Jay Guerrier (11) all scored at least 10 points.
LIVING AT THE FREE THROW LINE
The Great Danes are nationally ranked at No. 16 in free throw percentage with a clip of 77.4% (130-168). UAlbany is also the only team in the America East shooting above 70% from the charity stripe this season. Stony Brook ranks second with a percentage of .696.
In the last two games, two players had the majority of their points come from the free throw line. DJ Evans went 6-for-6 towards 10 points at Rider last Tuesday. Peter Hooley went 8-for-10 at NJIT to account for 80% of his points.
Hooley’s season free throw percentage of .894 towards his career percentage of .843 ranks him 24th among active players in Division I.
The Great Danes are averaging more made free throws per game (18.6) than their opponents are attempting (14.0).
SECOND HALF DARLINGS
For the third time this season, UAlbany rebounded from a halftime deficit to win at NJIT. The Great Danes exploded for 47 points in the second half against the Highlanders, including 17 in the final 20 minutes from DJ Evans. The Great Danes led at halftime 18 times last season, and were undefeated in those games.
FIRST DATE JITTERS
UAlbany and Holy Cross are meeting for the first time all-time. The Crusaders are the only team in the current Patriot League that UAlbany has never played, including new members Loyola (Md.) and Boston University. Will Brown posts a 13-8 record against the Patriot League in his career, and was on a five-game winning streak against the Patriot League before a 77-64 loss to Bucknell earlier this season.
SCOUTING HOLY CROSS
• Holy Cross (4-3) posts wins over Sacred Heart (122-118, 2OT), Fairfield (63-49), Hartford (80-55) and New Hampshire (63-62). The Crusaders, like the Great Danes, are currently on a two-game winning streak on the road.
• The two underclassmen in the starting line-up for Holy Cross (Eric Green and Anthony Thompson) both recorded career highs in the 80-55 win over Hartford on Nov. 24. Thompson scored 17 points and pulled down five rebounds for new career highs in both categories. Green had 18 points to go with six rebounds and five steals.
• Starting center Dave Dudzinkski is 28 points away from recording 1,000 points for his career. The senior and Preseason All-Patriot League selection is currently averaging 17.0 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game.
• The Crusaders were picked to finish seventh in the Patriot League preseason poll, behind Boston University (1), Lafayette (2), Army (3), Bucknell (4), Loyola (Md.) (5) and Lehigh (6).