The UMBC Retrievers (9-4) open their 14th America East season on Thursday, Jan. 5 when they host the Binghamton Bearcats (9-6). Tip-off time at the RAC Arena is set for 7:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3, with Gary Stein (play-by-play), John Feinstein (analyst) and Paul Mittermeier (sideline) describing the action.
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: Host Virginia Tech used a late first half surge to take control and the Hokies improved to 11-1 with an 87-70 victory over UMBC in the Retrievers' final non-conference game of the season on Dec. 30.
UMBC will enter America East play at 9-4, the program's best record in 30 years of NCAA Division I competition.
Lyles leads the squad and America East in scoring, averaging 22.0 points per game. He also is UMBC's top rebounder at 7.0 caroms per game, fifth in the conference. Named America East Player of the Week for the second time this season on Dec. 26, he is currently ranked 17th in the country in points per game.
Sophomore forward Joe Sherburne, who has knocked down 31-of-45 treys over the past eight games, now leads the nation in 3-pt. field goal percentage at 55.7 percent. He is now averaging 14.6 points per contest. Senior forward Will Darley is also averaging in double figures at 12.8 points per game.
Through games of Jan. 2, UMBC was 33rd in the nation in scoring average at 82.6 points per game. They are also ranked 21st nationally with 9.7 three-point field goals made per game and 20th in 3-pt. field goal percentage (40.3). The Retrievers led America East in scoring average, scoring margin (+7.5), field goal percentage (47.9), treys made per game and 3-pt. percentage.
DOG BYTES: The 9-4 start is also UMBC's best Division I record through 13 games. Only the 1981-82 NCAA Division II squad was also 10-3 after 13 contests.
The nine victories surpasses UMBC's total from a year ago and are the most non-conference victories the Retrievers have garnered in 26 years of NCAA Division I conference competition. The four road wins are the most since five posted in the 2008-09 season.
UMBC was ranked No. 21 in the Dec. 26 College Insider Mid-Major poll. The Retrievers received the most votes (47) in the Others Receiving Votes section in the Jan. 2 poll.
UMBC is 5-8 in 13 previous AE lid-lifters and have dropped four straight. This is just the second time in the last six years that UMBC has opened AE play at home.
BEARCATS' UPDATE: Like UMBC, Binghamton's nine non-league victories (9-6) are the most in their NCAA Division I history. The Bearcats are 5-2 in their last seven games, including a 101-54 rout of Marywood on Dec. 30.
Junior forward Willie Rodriguez has picked up where he left off last season since returning from injury in early December. He is averaging 11.7 points per outing and is shooting over 60 percent from the floor. Another inside presence, junior Bobby Ahearn averages 10.2 points per contest and has hit nearly 65 percent from the field.
The Bearcats shoot a solid 46.9 percent from the floor and 38.7 percent from behind the arc. Ten different Bearcats have been in the starting five thus far.
THE SERIES: Binghamton leads the overall series, taking 15 of 27 meetings versus UMBC. The Retrievers snapped a four-game slide to Binghamton in the home finale in 2015-16, edging the Bearcats, 80-79 in overtime. UMBC has won nine of 13 contests played at the RAC Arena, but Binghamton had won two straight before last year's close call.
In the last meeting between the teams on Feb. 24, 2016, Jairus Lyles led all scorers with 25 points and hit a free throw with 8.3 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Retrievers a 80-79 victory over Binghamton in final home game of the campaign. Binghamton's Willie Rodriguez misfired on a 12-footer before the horn and UMBC escaped with the extra-time victory.
Will Darley added 22 points for UMBC.
Binghamton forward Thomas Bruce led a balanced attack with 18 points, while Bobby Ahearn and Marlon Beck scored 17 apiece.
WHO'S UP NEXT: UMBC hosts league foe Maine at noon on Sunday before hitting the road for contests at Hartford and Vermont next week.