2013 MEAC upset on NCCU's mind as Aggie-Eagle day dawns

Feb. 21, 2014 @ 10:03 PM

Pardon the N.C. Central Eagles if they get a road win today at N.C. A&T and don’t celebrate the way some teams do when they beat their rivals.

NCCU has been there and done that except when it counted most.

Last season, NCCU beat A&T both on the road at Corbett Sports Center in Greensboro and at home.

That was during the regular season when NCCU went 15-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and earned a bye in the first round of the MEAC Tournament at Norfolk Scope Arena.

But the Eagles blinked in Norfolk and when they opened their eyes, they were 0-1 in the postseason and headed home, their season over.

A&T had joined Savannah State as the only MEAC team to figure out how to beat NCCU during the 2012-13 season.

The Aggies ended up winning the tournament and earning the league’s lone bid to the NCAA Tournament.

This go around, NCCU is in first place in the MEAC and in the driver’s seat heading into the MEAC Tournament.

I’ve played this game, man, for 35 years as an amateur and as a pro, and I just know, man, all it takes is one slip that’s all it takes is one slip,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said.

Moton has said that last year is last year in terms of A&T’s tournament upset of the Eagles, but today’s road matchup with the Aggies (8-19, 4-8 MEAC) is an opportunity to sweep the nemesis who a last season messed up NCCU's beautiful thing. 

We’re trying to continue to do things to prepare ourselves for the tournament,” NCCU senior point guard Emanuel Chapman said.

That starts with defense for NCCU, although most teams talk in those terms. But NCCU has been backing up its chatter by holding opponents to low shooting percentages.

Moton’s standard is holding opposing teams to less than 40 percent shooting. NCCU fell short of that goal Monday when Savannah State shot 52.6 percent during the first half, finishing the game at 43.2 percent.

Savannah State shot a higher percentage than NCCU (40.4 percent), and the Tigers’ bench outscored the Eagles 20-7.

But NCCU still won the game, 76-62.

When NCCU and A&T met on Jan. 22, the Eagles blew out the Aggies by 40 points.

Florida A&M beat NCCU 63-60 on the road Jan. 11, but NCCU returned the favor Feb. 10 in a 92-49 win in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium. After that game, FAMU coach Clemon Johnson said the Eagles were playing at an extremely high level and made it sound like no team in the MEAC could touch them.

Not so fast, Moton said.

We’re not a dominant basketball team,” Moton said. “We can beat anyone in the conference and anyone in the conference can beat us as well.”

An NCCU win  today (6 p.m., 99.9 HD3 The Ticket) would be the 13th straight victory for the Eagles (20-5, 11-1 MEAC).

NOTES CollegeInsider.com ranks mid-major basketball teams and has NCCU No. 18 nationally. Wichita State (28-0) is No. 1 in that poll and No. 3 in the Associated Press poll.

Wichita State beat NCCU 77-66 on Dec. 22.