NCCU shoots for MEAC title

Mar. 02, 2014 @ 09:28 PM

N.C. Central would clinch first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a home win tonight against Savannah State, no easy task against the fifth-place Tigers, NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said.

“We don’t need to watch a lot of tape on Savannah State, because you’ve got to be tough,” Moton said. “You’ve got to chew your gum tough. You’ve got to tie your shoes tough. You’ve got to play tough. You’ve got to cut tough. You’ve got to pass tough. You’ve just got to be tough, and the tougher team is going to win Monday night, and hopefully that’s us.”

A nationally televised audience will watch it (7 p.m., ESPNU).

The Eagles have played basketball on national TV before, but those games were on the road.

The Savannah State-NCCU matchup in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium would be the first nationally televised home game for the Eagles since they rejoined the MEAC in 2011.

“I hope the country gets to see how truly great MEAC basketball is,” Moton said.

Savannah State is coached by Horace Broadnax, who was on Georgetown coach John Thompson’s team that featured Patrick Ewing when the Hoyas won the national championship in 1984.

On Saturday, Savannah State went into Corbett Sports Center in Greensboro and beat N.C. A&T 71-67 in overtime.  The Tigers had three players score in double figures and as a team shot 42.4 percent from the field.

The Eagles try to make sure teams shoot no better than 40 percent and have been doing that, albeit without the bright TV lights that will be in their faces tonight. 

“It’s just another game, whether the cameras are here or not,” NCCU senior shooting guard Jeremy Ingram said. “We’ve just got to play tough and focused. That’s all it is, man.”

Ingram scored a game-high 25 points during an 86-44 win over S.C. State on Saturday. NCCU senior point guard Emanuel Chapman dished out nine assists in that game wherein the Eagles kept pounding on the Bulldogs until the final horn sounded.

“We try to kill,” Chapman said. “That’s just the mentality.”

The Eagles (23-5, 13-1 MEAC) have protected their nest in 22 straight home wins. They are 13-0 at home this season and have won their last 15 games overall.

But NCCU’s last home game of the season tonight has more riding on it than merely extending streaks.

To put it plainly, Savannah State is in NCCU’s way.

“They’re standing in the way of our conference championship,” Chapman said.

NOTES: NCCU reserve forward Ramon Eaton (6-8, 225) has been suspended from the team for a violation of team rules, according to the NCCU athletics department. The junior from Vallejo, Calif., transferred to NCCU from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Eaton appeared in 13 games for the Eagles and was averaging 6.1 minutes, 1.3 points and 0.8 rebounds per game.