The UMBC men's basketball team opens the 2017-18 campaign by taking on the SMU Mustangs at Moody Coliseum on Friday, Nov. 10 in the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland Tournament. Tip-off time is slated for 7:00 CST and the contest will be broadcast by ESPN3.
Fans can also follow along via the team's Twitter page @UMBC_MBB and receive game notifications via the UMBC Front Row app.
Graduate student guard Jairus Lyles leads a group of four returning starters and four returning All-Conference players for the Retriever 2017-18 team. Lyles is America East's leading returning scorer at 19.0 points per game. Backcourt mate, senior K.J. Maura was tabbed to the All-Defensive Team, sophomore forward Arkel Lamar was selected to the league's All-Rookie Team, and junior sharpshooter Joe Sherburne earned a spot on America East's All-Academic team.
UMBC (21-13, 9-7 American East in 2016-17) was picked to finish third in the 2017-18 America East Conference preseason coaches' poll. It is the highest preseason selection for the Retrievers in 15 conference campaigns.
In addition, Lyles was tabbed to the Preseason All-Conference team for the second consecutive year, a first for any UMBC men's basketball player in the program's America East era.
Noting the Retrievers
• Head Coach Ryan Odom was the recipient of the 2017 Joe B. Hall Award, which is presented annually to the top first-year coach in Division I.
• UMBC became the fourth team in America East history to make their way to the semi-finals of a national tournament, after garnering three victories in the 2017 College Insider Tournament (CIT). Vermont went to the semis of the 2015 and 2016 CBI and Boston U. got to the CBI semis in 2010. But UMBC was the first of those squads to win three games to reach the penultimate round.
• The 21 wins was the second-most in the 30-year NCAA Division I history of the program.
• Will Darley, who earned America East Second Team honors a year ago, signed with the Hamburg Towers in Germany's ProA League in August and began his professional career when the Towers started their campaign in September.
• UMBC was ranked No. 21 in the Dec. 26 College Insider Mid-Major poll. The Retrievers received the third-most votes (37) in the Others Receiving Votes section in the Jan. 9 poll and received 7 votes on Jan. 23. In the final poll, the Retrievers received 3 votes.
• Hired in April of 2016, Ryan Odom became the ninth head coach in the program's history. He was the first external hire in the sport of men's basketball at UMBC since Tom Sullivan debuted in the fall of 1995. Odom is the son of former Wake Forest and South Carolina head coach Dave Odom.
• UMBC finished 25th in the nation at 81.1 points per game, 18th in total 3's made (330), 22nd in 3-pt. percentage (39.3), and 19th in treys made per game (9.7).
• The university is slated to open the UMBC Event Center sometime this winter. The new facility will seat nearly 5,000 for basketball.
• There are a reported 25 Division I players competing as graduate students this year at the same institution where they earned their undergraduate degree. Of those, UMBC's Jairus Lyles was the leading point scorer (18.9 ppg) in 2016-17. Three others scored in double figures – Tulane's Cameron Reynolds (17.0 ppg), Arizona State's Shannon Evans (15.0 ppg) and USC's Jordan McLaughlin (13.1 ppg).
A Glance at the Mustangs
Head Coach Tim Jankovich enters his second season leading the Mustangs, after SMU finished No. 11 in the Associated Press Poll, sweeping the American Athletic Conference season and tournament championships en route to an NCAA Tournament berth.
The Mustangs won a program-record 30 games (30-5) that included going 17-1 in conference play and 18-0 in Moody Coliseum. SMU has won 22 straight at home overall, which is the fourth-longest active streak nationally. The Mustangs had two of the longest winning streaks in program history at 16 games (third) and 10 games (tied fourth) in a stretch that saw 26 victories in 27 outings. It was the second AAC season and tournament sweep by the Mustangs in the three seasons.
SMU returns three of its six-man rotation from last season including All-AAC selection Shake Milton, starter Jarrey Foster and AAC Sixth Man of the Year Ben Emelogu II.
Milton, a 6-6 junior guard, averaged 13.0 points per game and buried 82-of-194 shots (42.3 percent) from 3-point range. He also led the team with 159 assists. Foster, also a 6-6 junior guard nearly averaged double figures at 9.9 points per contest and snared 5.2 caroms per outing.
SMU only allowed 60.0 points per game a season ago and owned a +8.7 rebound margin.
UMBC travels to Tucson, Ariz. to take on No. 3 Arizona on Sunday, Nov. 12 as the Battle for Atlantis Mainland Tournament rolls on. Tip-off time at the McKale Center is set for 6:00 p.m. MST. The game will mark the second time that UMBC has faced a team ranked No. 3 at the time of the contest. The Retrievers fell at No. 3 Pittsburgh, 91-56, on Dec. 13, 2008.