NCCU gets first MEAC taste of season
N.C. Central and Hampton tonight are expected to get after each other the way teams typically scrap in the mighty Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, although the game won’t count toward the league’s standings.
Before the season, NCCU coach LeVelle Moton and Hampton coach Ed Joyner Jr. both needed a game to fill out their schedules, so they agreed to have their teams hoop off the conference record.
No doubt, both Hampton (7-7) and NCCU (7-4) will be in it to win it in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium (7 p.m., NCCUEaglePride.com). It’ll be Hampton’s first time in Durham since Nov. 27, 1994. The Pirates are 3-2 in the last five meetings at the Eagles’ place.
NCCU leads the series with Hampton 44-31. The Eagles won the last two matchups against the Pirates, including a 68-64 comeback win in March that capped a strong, 15-1 conference run.
But then NCCU lost to N.C. A&T in the first round of the MEAC Tournament. The Eagles had beaten their archrivals twice in the regular season, in Greensboro and in Durham, but couldn’t pull off the trifecta at the Norfolk Scope Arena in Virginia.
Hampton this season already has MEAC wins over Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman. The last time the Pirates were on the floor, they shot 50 percent from the field during an 87-60 win against Radford. Howard sophomore point guard Deron Powers had 18 points and was among four Pirates to score in double figures.
Du’Vaughn Maxwell is Hampton’s leading scorer at 14.6 points per game and the team’s leading rebounder, pulling down 6.6 boards per contest.
NCCU senior Jeremy Ingram is the No. 6 scorer in the nation at 23.4 points per game, but he didn’t shoot it so well the last time the Eagles suited up, and that resulted in a 70-56 loss at Maryland on New Year’s Eve.
NCCU was supposed to have gotten a test at Wagner over the weekend, but rough, wintry weather canceled Saturday’s game.
Joyner took the Pirates to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 after Hampton won the MEAC Tournament.
Moton is trying to get the Eagles to the Big Dance for the first time in school history.