GAME NOTES: The Old Dominion Monarchs will tip off a two-game homestand at the Constant Convocation Center on Thursday night when they play host to the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners in Conference USA action.
UTSA's season has been largely a disappointing one, as it sits at just 7-13 overall and 3-4 in C-USA, while winning just one of six games on the road. The Roadrunners are currently losers of four of their last five, including an 87-72 home setback to Louisiana Tech on Saturday afternoon.
ODU has fared slightly better than UTSA this season, going 10-12 with a 4-3 mark in league play, but it too has been sliding of late with back-to-back losses. After falling at UAB on Jan. 30 (75-66), the Monarchs traveled to Middle Tennessee on Saturday and were handed a 64-48 defeat.
The teams met for the first time last season, with UTSA downing ODU in Norfolk, 79-70.
The Roadrunners dug themselves an insurmountable first-half hole against Louisiana Tech over the weekend, going into intermission down by 25 and never got close from that point forward. They shot a modest 40.7 percent from the field while allowing Louisiana Tech to net greater than 52 percent of its shots, and they also committed a game-high 16 turnovers. Keon Lewis shined despite the setback with 24 points, draining all nine of his free-throw attempts. Devon Agusi scored 14 points and Edrico McGregor tallied nine points and eight rebounds.
UTSA's offense has been solid this season, shooting 43.9 percent from the field for 71.2 ppg, but it hasn't been enough when paired next to its dreadful scoring defense (79.1 ppg). It's poor turnover margin (-4.3) has been an ongoing issue as well. Lewis pours in a team-best 14.2 ppg and has connected on 82.2 percent of his foul shots. Agusi nets 11.9 ppg on 45.5 percent from the field, while Jordan Sims (11.9 ppg, 59 3-pointers) and Hyjii Thomas (10.5 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers.
The Monarchs never had much of a shot in their 16-point loss to Middle Tennessee, as they shot just 33.3 percent from the field, 13-of-22 at the foul line (.591) and committed 15 turnovers as they matched their lowest scoring output of the season with just 48 points. Dimitri Batten scored 14 points to lead the way, while Aaron Bacote and Richard Ross put up 13 and 11 points, respectively.
ODU's strength this season has come on the defensive end of the floor, as it allows opponents to shoot just 42.1 percent from the field for 65.4 ppg. Unfortunately the team's offensive attack is more often than not less than equipped to support it, as it makes less than 43 percent from the field itself for a mere 64.7 ppg. It's also plagued by one of the nation's worst free-throw percentage (.600). Bacote leads the team with 16.8 ppg and hands out more than three assists per contest. Batten (12.0 ppg), Keenan Palmore (11.0 ppg) and Richard Ross (9.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg) are also regular contributors.
Neither team has been a shining example of consistency this season, especially in recent weeks, but ODU has held its own at home (6-4) and that advantage should be enough to knock off the Roadrunners.
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