After a week layoff and the beginning of final exams, the UMBC Retrievers (7-2) get back into action with a quick two-game homestand, beginning with a contest on Saturday, Dec. 17, as the Towson Tigers (6-4) invade the RAC Arena for a 7:00 p.m. contest. The game marks the debut of Retriever men's basketball on ESPN3 and New York Times best-selling author John Feinstein joins Gary Stein on the call of the contest.
UMBC hosts the nation's top-scoring team, The Citadel on Monday evening at 7:00 p.m.
With the win over Mt. St. Mary's on Dec. 7, the Retrievers' 7-1 start was the best in the school's Division I history, surpassing the 2007-08 America East championship team. It equals the 7-1 start to the 1981-82 campaign. Both of those teams were also 7-2 after nine games, but only the '81-'82 squad was 8-2 after ten contests.
The seven victories also equals the total from a year ago.
Live stats will be available via www.umbcretrievers.com and fans can also follow via the men's basketball program's Twitter feed (UMBC_MBB). Access of live stats is also available via UMBC Front Row, UMBC Athletics' mobile website.
RETRIEVERS' UPDATE: Junior guard Jairus Lyles put on a dazzling display with a game-high 29 points and UMBC built a 14-point second half lead, but the host Richmond Spiders prevailed, 78-75, before 5,552 fans at the Robins Center.
Sophomore forward Joe Sherburne added 18 points for UMBC, hitting 4-of-7 shots from behind the arc. Junior guard Rodney Elliott scored a season-high 12 points in 17 minutes off the bench, while senior forward Will Darley added 11.
It was just the second game decided by six points or less for UMBC – both on the road – and the Retrievers are 1-1 in those decisions.
Lyles leads the squad and America East in scoring, averaging 22.3 points per game. As of Dec. 13, he is ranked 18th in the nation in scoring.
Sherburne, who has knocked down 18-of-23 treys over the past four games, is now ranked ninth nationally in 3-pt. field goal percentage at 54.2 percent. He is now averaging 14.2 points per contest. Darley is also averaging in double figures at 11.8 points per contest.
UMBC is averaging an America East-high 83.3 points per game and is shooting at a league-best 49.6 percent clip from the floor in the early stages of the campaign.
DOG BYTES: UMBC has won five straight games at the RAC overall and four in a row to start the campaign. It is the longest streak since going 6-0 to start the 2008-09 campaign and nine straight overall starting in 2007-08 and moving into the 2008-09 season.
• Through games of Dec. 14, UMBC was 30th in the nation in scoring average at 83.3 points per game. They are also ranked 13th nationally with 10.2 three-point field goals made per game and 9th in 3-pt. field goal percentage (41.8).
• The Retrievers lead America East in scoring average (83.3), scoring margin (+11.8), field goal percentage (49.6), treys made per game and 3-pt. percentage and assist/turnover ratio (+1.3).
TIGER UPDATE: Towson (6-4) opened the campaign at 2-2 on the road and just completed a six-game homestand at 4-2. The Tigers have won two straight, including last Saturday's 90-87 come-from-behind victory over FDU.
In a game that featured 57 fouls, Towson trailed, 43-33, at the break, but scored 57 points in the second half to prevail. Towson outscored FDU, 52-28, in the paint to offset a 0-for-7 performance from behind the arc. Five Tigers finished in double figures, including junior guard Mike Morsell and senior forward John Davis, who scored 18 apiece.
Morsell leads TU with 18.0 points per game and is averaging 5.3 free throws made per game. Senior forward William Adala Moto averages 13.3 points per contest, while Davis scores 11.8 points per outing and leads the Tigers at 7.1 caroms per outing.
Towson outboards its foes by 8.9 per game and its foes are shooting just 37.9 percent from the field.
THE SERIES/LAST YEAR'S MEETING: Towson extended its series lead to 37-20 over UMBC with a 91-65 victory at SECU Arena last Dec. 23.
* Last season, Towson enjoyed its largest margin of victory over UMBC (26 points) in 38 NCAA Division I meetings. The Tigers have won 22 of those 38 meetings since 1986-87.
* UMBC had won nine straight in the series from 1998-99 into the first of two games in the 2004-05 campaign. Towson has captured seven of the last nine contests.
* Jairus Lyles scored 24 points in his second UMBC career contest at Towson last season.
With the game tied at 15-all midway through the first half, UMBC went without a field goal for over nine minutes and Towson built a 47-26 halftime edge and cruised to the 91-65 victory.
Towson shot 57.6 percent from the floor and turned 12 Retriever turnovers into 22 points. TU outscored UMBC, 42-18, in points in the paint.
WHO'S UP NEXT: UMBC has its first of two one-day breaks of the year when The Citadel invades the RAC Arena on Monday, Dec. 19. Tip-off time is set for 7:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.