GAME NOTES: Set to host their first postseason game in history, the VMI Keydets settle in at Cameron Hall this afternoon to do battle with the Mastodons of IUPU-Ft Wayne as part of the 2014 CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
It was a monumental event on Tuesday night when the Keydets, members of the Big South Conference, paid a visit to Canisius at the Koessler Athletic Center in New York, as VMI erupted for a massive 111-100 win in first-round action. The triumph was the first in the postseason for the Keydets since defeating Duquesne (73-66) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on March 12, 1977.
The victory for the Keydets was also the 20th of the 2013-14 campaign, just the fifth time in program history the squad has reached that win plateau.
As for the Mastodons, representatives of the Summit League, they accepted an invitation to take part in this event as well and on Wednesday succeeded in taking down Akron at home, 97-91. The win was the sixth in the last seven outings for the squad, the lone setback coming by just three points versus North Dakota State (60-57) in the Summit League Tournament title game last week.
The winner of this meeting will head to the third round of the tourney next week to face an opponent to be determined.
By all accounts, the Mastodons should have come out on the short end of their meeting with Akron, especially after allowing the visitors to shoot a staggering 64.3 percent from the field, but the 5-of-17 performance by the Zips behind the 3-point line was enough to keep Fort Wayne in the hunt. Luis Jacobo hit for 23 points for the hosts, followed by Steve Forbes with 17 and seven boards, while reserve Mo Evans tacked on 15 points in only 18 minutes of action. Converting 4-of-6 beyond the arc, Michael Kibiloski tallied 12 points and Pierre Bland 10, to go along with seven assists and six boards.
Through 35 games, of which he has appeared in 32 and started 30, Jacobo leads the Mastodons in scoring with 14.8 ppg, having connected on an even 40 percent of his 180 3-point tries. As a team, IPFW is converting long-distance attempts at a 39.9 percent clip, helping to produce 76.5 ppg. Forbes checks in with another 12.2 ppg and is tops on the glass with 5.3 rpg, but his numbers could be more substantial if not for the fact that he has been in constant foul trouble and bowed out of six games.
Scoring in triple figures is nothing new for the Keydets, but still the fast- paced meeting with Canisius was very unusual for the Golden Griffins who saw a number of records fall at the KAC. D.J. Covington produced a game-high 37 points, shooting 12-of-17 from the floor and a near-perfect 13-of-14 at the free-throw line, adding six rebounds and five blocked shots. QJ Peterson and Rodney Glasgow both accounted for 28 points and eight rebounds, the latter also handing out a team-best eight assists, while Tim Marshall pitched in with 10 points off the bench for the visitors as they outscored Canisius by a 30-15 margin at the free-throw line.
The Keydets have scored at least 100 points a total of eight times this season, with a high of 128 being posted against Washington College the first week of January. The team is used to racing from one end of the floor to the other, letting fly with an average of almost 30 3-pointers per contest. But while Peterson (19.7 ppg), Covington (19.3 ppg) and Glasgow (18.7 ppg) are also lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 88.4 ppg, the defense is permitting 82.2 ppg.
Both of these teams have huge potential on offense and don't exactly have defenses that are capable of locking down at the other end of the floor. Like the meeting with Canisius, the Keydets could well get into rare territory as far as scoring is concerned, but the bottom line is the hosts should be the ones coming out on top.
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