GAME NOTES: The James Madison Dukes and Hampton Pirates will meet at the Richmond Coliseum on Saturday afternoon to take part in the second annual Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic.
Matt Brady's Dukes have struggled out of the gate this season, with just three wins in 12 games. Last weekend, James Madison managed to end a six-game skid with an 84-69 victory at High Point, but fell back into the loss column four days later with Wednesday's 78-65 loss at UNC Greensboro.
Edward Joyner's Pirates have had more success and are hovering just under the .500 mark at 5-6 overall. Hampton won its first two MEAC games of the year with victories over Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman, but saw a three-game win streak come to a close with Wednesday's 69-67 overtime loss at Northern Kentucky.
James Madison has won three of the four all-time meetings with Hampton, but the Pirates got into the win column last season in series play with a 69-65 win at the HU Convocation Center.
Wins will always be hard to come by when sporting an ugly -7.3 scoring margin. The Dukes have not played horribly at the defensive end, but rather, a lack of scoring punch has plagued the team all season long. James Madison is shooting just 40.9 percent from the floor overall, leading to a mere 62.8 ppg. Compounding the problem is the fact that the team has negative margins in both rebounding (-1.0) and turnovers (-2.3). Guard Charles Cooke leads the team in the scoring column at 15.4 ppg. He is followed by fellow guard Ron Curry (11.9 ppg) and forward Andrey Semenov (11.3 ppg), but only two other players are averaging over 5.8 ppg, those being Jackson Kent (9.3 ppg) and Taylor Bessick (8.2 ppg).
The Dukes were done in by a hot shooting UNCG squad last time out, as the hometown Spartans connected on 50.9 percent from the floor, including an impressive 11-of-19 showing from behind the arc. Eight of those 3-pointers came in the second half, as the Spartans overcame a six-point halftime deficit to earn the win. James Madison led 42-36 at the break, but lost its shooting touch in the second half (.320), including an ugly 1-of-11 from behind the arc in the loss. Curry's game-high 23 points went to waste, as no other Duke managed double figures in the setback.
Hampton also suffers from a negative scoring margin, albeit a mere -1.2. That has allowed the Pirates to stay competitive in most games. The team does struggle on the boards with a -4.5 rebounding margin, but does force more turnovers than it commits with a +1.3 turnover margin. Scoring comes primarily from the one-two punch of forward Du'Vaughn Powers and guard Deron Powers, who net 14.4 and 13.0 ppg, respectively. Maxwell is a strong interior player that protects the rim. He is connecting on 52.1 percent from the floor, averaging 6.5 rebounds per game and leads the team with just under four blocks per outing (3.7 bpg). There are no other double-figure scorers on the roster, although forward Emmanuel Okoroba isn't far off the mark at 8.3 ppg.
The Pirates had their win streak halted at Northern Kentucky last time out, despite a 16-point, five-assist effort from Powers. Maxwell was once again strong up front, posting 14 points, six rebounds and six blocks, while Jervon Pressley added seven points and nine rebounds in his Hampton debut.
James Madison's woes on the offensive end may be magnified with Maxwell roaming the paint looking to swat anything close to him. The Pirates have proved to be the more consistent team and that should be the deciding factor in this one.
Game Date and Time