It is the dawn of a new era for UMBC and its men's basketball program as the Retrievers open the new, 5,000-seat UMBC Event Center on Saturday, Feb. 3.
The Retrievers (16-8, 7-2 America East) tip off play in the $85-million dollar facility by welcoming the league's best squad in the Vermont Catamounts (18-5, 8-0 AE). The game will be a match-up of the No. 2 vs. the No. 1 teams in the current league standings.
Tip-off time set for 4:00 p.m. and the broadcast will air on ESPN3.
Retriever Update: UMBC graduate student guard Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) led all scorers with 24 points and hit the go-ahead layup with 1:40 remaining and the Retrievers edged host Stony Brook, 67-63, at IFCU Arena.
The Retrievers posted their third straight victory and have won five of six overall. The win snapped a 10-game losing streak for UMBC on Long Island, dating back to a January 2008 triumph.
UMBC brings an 11-0 home record from the RAC Arena over to the new building. The 7-2 start in America East matches UMBC's best in 15 league seasons. The 2007-08 squad started at 7-2 en route to a 13-3 league campaign and an eventual league title
Lyles, paces the Retrievers and America East in scoring (21.2 points per game) and is also in the top ten in seven other America East statistical categories. He just became the sixth Retriever to reach the 1,500-point plateau.
Senior guard K.J. Maura (San Juan, P.R.) (9.8 ppg) leads the conference with 5.3 helpers per game and is ranked 25th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.85), while junior forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) averages 10.6 points per contest. Sophomore forward Arkel Lamar (Bridgeport, Conn.), who had missed three of the previous four games due to injuries, came off the bench and scored 11 points in limited time at Stony Brook. Lamar is averaging 12.6 points per game and his 46.1 efficiency behind the arc is 16th-best in the country.
UMBC leads the league, averaging 75.6 points per game and the Retrievers are converting 11.1 treys per game, seventh in the nation through games of Feb. 1. They are fifth nationally with 266 total 3-pt. field goals made.
A Glance at the Catamounts: Vermont set the America East record with its 320th regular season conference victory after beating host Binghamton, 68-54, on Wednesday night. The Cats passed Boston University for sole possession on the league's all-time conference wins list.
Vermont reached the win column for the 11th straight time, improved to 18-5 overall, and 8-0 in league play. The Catamounts also extended their regular season America East winning streak to 29 games.
The Cats used a balanced scoring attack as four starters reached double figures for the second straight contest. Senior guard Trae Bell-Haynes notched his fifth 20-point performance of the season with a game-high 21 points. The senior also collected eight boards and dished out six assists.
Bell-Haynes, the reigning America East Player of the Year, leads active Catamounts at 14.4 points per game. Senior forward Payton Henson (12.2) and junior guard Ernie Duncan (11.5) also average in double figures - Duncan leads the hot-shooting Catamounts (40.7 percent from long range) with 49 treys.
The Series: Vermont has posted 22 consecutive victories over UMBC, including nine straight in Baltimore. The Retrievers' last win occured on March 9, 2008, 73-64, in the America East semifinals. Vermont defeated UMBC, 71-56, in Burlington on Jan. 6 in the first meeting of the year.
Up Next: The Retrievers hit the road for a pair of America East contests next week, facing Binghamton on Feb. 8 and UNH on Feb. 11.