Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tom Archdeacon: Wilberforce AD goes back to the future

WIBERFORCE, Ohio -- This, too, is what is meant by “Back to the Future.”

Rather than the science fiction adventure movie of the mid-1980s, this is a real life love story that began over six decades ago and now, thanks to an unexpected realignment of the sports stars, has been rekindled into another moment of the heart today.

In the early 1950s, Barbara Jean Townsend came to Wilberforce University from Cleveland, Mississippi, and Homer Lockett Jr., of Kansas City did the same. The two education students met and soon fell in love — with each other and the school.

They got teaching degrees, married after graduation and became educators in Alliance, Ohio. She was a teacher, he a school principal. Over the years they would return to the university that meant so much to them and often they brought their daughter, Beverly, along with them.

The place became magical to her as well and many years later, long after she had begun a family of her own, Beverly passed along her glorious stories of Wilberforce to her oldest child, Dorianne.

By then, though, Dorianne Johnson was on a different collegiate path. A big-time prep basketball talent, her sights weren’t set on a small NAIA school in Greene County.

She was recruited by several Division I programs across the South and chose the University of Mississippi, where she became a three-year starter, was team captain, led the Lady Rebels in blocked shots and ended up an integral part of teams that made two NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances and had several top-15 national rankings.


Winston-Salem State Rams Baseball Ranked #21 in Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll

TUCSON, Arizona -- Collegiate Baseball Newspaper has released its first set of 2016 NCAA Division II College Baseball preseason rankings and the Winston-Salem State Rams have been tabbed the #21 team in the rankings.

"Preseason rankings are exciting because it means the season opener is right around the corner," said Kevin Ritsche, WSSU head baseball coach. "Being only a few votes from the top 12 is a sign of respect for our program. Now it's up to us to uphold it in February," added Ritsche.

Winston-Salem State finished 42-15 in 2015, capturing their fifth consecutive CIAA Baseball Championship. The 42 wins by WSSU in 2015 are the most in school history and the Rams advancing to within 2 wins of the NCAA DII College World Series is the furthest a CIAA baseball team has ever advanced.

The 2016 WSSU baseball team will open the season on Friday, February 5th, when the Rams host Millersville University of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, at BB&T Ballpark in downtown Winston-Salem. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 pm.

Rank, School
2015 Record
1. Tampa
2. Catawba
3. Mercyhurst
4. Franklin Pierce
5. Minnesota St.
6. St. Cloud St.
7. Florida Tech.
8. West Alabama
9. Colorado Mesa
10. Cal. Poly Pomona
11. St. Edwards, TX
12. St. Mary's, TX
13. Angelo St.
14. Southern Arkansas
15. North Georgia
16. Henderson St.
17. Nova Southeastern
18. Millersville
19. Seton Hill
20. Lynn
21. Winston-Salem St.
22. Quincy
23. S. New Hampshire
24. Missouri Southern St.
25. Armstrong St.
26. U.C. San Diego
27. West Georgia
28. Ashland
29. Mt. Olive
30. Alabama-Huntsville
31. Colorado St.-Pueblo
32. Lander
33. Southern Indiana
34. Azusa Pacific
35. Grand Valley St.
36. Trevecca Nazarene
37. Flagler  
38. Emporia St.
39. West Florida
40. Drury

Beck Leads BSU Bulldogs in 95-62 Beating of Millersville Marauders

BOWIE, Maryland -- After a 17-day layoff, the Bowie State University men's basketball team closed out 2015 with a 95-62 non-conference home victory against Millersville University on Thursday afternoon. Bowie State improves to 7-4 on the year and Millersville drops to 2-10 overall.  
Senior Justin Beck (Ellicott City, Md.) paced the Bulldogs with a team-high 25 points and fellow senior Julian Livingston (Bowie, Md.) added 17 points. Sophomore Omari George (Baltimore, Md.) came off the BSU bench to contribute a career-high 12 points to go along with five rebounds. Sophomore Ahmaad Wilson (Baltimore, Md.) rounded out the Bulldogs' double figure scorers with 10 points and added a game-high five assists.
Millersville held an early 3-2 first half advantage before Bowie State took charge of the game with a 10-0 run to take a 12-3 lead at the 15:34 mark. The Bulldogs grew to 25-12 by the midway point of the first half and helped Bowie State to a 52-31 cushion by halftime.
The Bulldogs knocked down 19-of-36 (52.8 percent) first half field goals and Bowie State's defense held the Marauders to 8-of-26 (30.8 percent) over the first 20 minutes.
With a very comfortable half time lead, Bowie State head coach Darrell Brooks played many of his reserves for much of the second half. The Bulldogs only the margin below 20 only once in the second half (54-35) following a Mont layup at the 16:23 mark. Bowie State's lead ballooned to a game-high 39 points (90-51) with 4:38 left to play.
Bowie State ended the afternoon with a field goal shooting percentage of 51.5 (34-of-66) which included 11-of-27 (40.7 percent) beyond the arc and the Bulldogs won the battle on the glass with a 38-36 advantage. Beck and senior Miles Jackson (Silver Spring, Md.) tied for team high-rebound honors with seven each.
"Millersville was a little beat up with several starters out due to injuries, but I'm really pleased that our guys were able to maintain their focus. I thought we defended well, rebounded well and did a good job sharing the ball", said Brooks.
The Marauders were led by Markeith Mont (Philadelphia, Pa.) with a game-high 27 points while Tommy Patterson (York, Pa.) chipped in 12 points.
Millersville made just 18-of-53 field goals (34.0 percent) but shot 80 percent at the free throw line, making 20-of-25.
The Bulldogs open conference play at Johnson C. Smith University – Monday, January 4th as part of a doubleheader with the women's team.




Johnson C. Smith Takes Down Lander 64-60

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- The Johnson C. Smith University women's basketball team got 16 points and 17 rebounds from senior Ashley Porter along with 19 points from freshman A'Diyah Ussery to take a 64-60 nonconference win over visiting Lander on Thursday afternoon in Brayboy Gym.

In the first quarter, JCSU, having not played since Dec. 19, showed their rust. The Golden Bulls managed to shoot only 17.6% (3-of-17) from the field. Lander also struggled from the floor, going 4-of-14 for 28.6%, but managed an 11-7 lead over JCSU at the end of the quarter.

Lander started the second quarter on fire, nailing two three pointers to take a 21-10 lead before JCSU's Amena Brent (Chicago, Ill.) completed a three-point play after being fouled on a driving layup with 7:10 left, bringing JCSU to within 21-13. The Bearcat lead would swell to 25-13, forcing a JCSU timeout with 6:20 left in the quarter. Freshman A'Diyah Ussery (Shelby, N.C.) would knock down a three pointer and Krista White (Dayton, Ohio) would convert a jumper then forced a turnover that led to a transition layup that closed the gap to 25-20 at the 3:49 mark.

Lander would respond, boosting their lead to 32-24 after outscoring JCSU 7-4 run over the final three minutes of the quarter to provide the halftime score.

JCSU would go on a 7-0 run to close the deficit to 32-31 after the first 1:45 of the third quarter thanks to a three-pointer from Ussery, a pair of free throws from senior Ashley Porter (Winston-Salem, N.C.), and another jumper from Ussery that forced Lander to call timeout at the 8:15 mark.

JCSU would take the lead following an Ussery transition layup after Porter blocked a Bearcat shot. Porter would hit Ussery with the outlet pass to provide the 33-32 lead. That lead was short-lived, as Lander responded with a three pointer to regain the 35-33 lead at the 7:05 mark. The Bearcats would go on a 10-4 lead to stretch the lead to 45-37 before Porter nailed a long jumper to make it 45-39. A free throw from Lander's Ty'Heshia Reynolds followed by a JCSU layup from Porter provided a 46-41 cushion with 1:18 to play.

After a missed Lander layup, JCSU would cash in when Porter received a long pass that led to a layup that pulled JCSU to within 46-43 with 50 seconds to go. JCSU's Jaylaan Dillard (Raleigh, N.C.) would connect on two free throws with 6 seconds left to provide the 46-45 score at the end of the third quarter.

After Lander had jumped ahead 54-49 in the early stages of the fourth quarter, JCSU junior
Cierra Levias (Seattle, Wash.) knocked down a three pointer from the corner to bring the Golden Bulls to within 54-52 with 5:47 remaining. JCSU would later get a free throw from Asha Jordan (Monroe, N.C.) to narrow the gap to 54-53 with 3:44 left and would go ahead 55-54 on a Porter layup following a Bearcat turnover.

Another Lander turnover led to Ussery canning a corner three pointer to put JCSU up 58-54, but a soft jumper from Lander's Bre Crum made it 58-56 JCSU with 1:37 left. JCSU would get two free throws from Asha Jordan to go ahead 60-56 with 1:28 to go. JCSU would extend the lead to 62-56 after a pair of Porter free throws. Lander would force a JCSU turnover with 54.2 seconds remaining and would capitalize when Sannayyiah Johnson scored a jumper in the lane to pull to within 62-58.

After a pair of missed JCSU free throws, Lander got back to the line, but Reynolds missed both shots, with Quinesha Lynch (Rocky Mount, N.C.) securing the rebound with 33.1 left.

After a pair of missed JCSU free throws, Lander cut into the lead again, this time with a jumper in traffic from Breshay Johnson to pull to within 62-60. JCSU's Lynch would make it 63-60 with 5.9 left after a free throw. Following a Lander timeout, the Bearcats would have one last chance for the game-tying three pointer, but JCSU forced a turnover and Krista White canned a free throw with one second remaining to provide the 64-60 final.

Lander's Bre Crum managed 15 points while Sannayyiah Johnson had 14. Jada Wallace also scored 10 for the Bearcats.

The win improves JCSU to 9-4 on the year while Lander falls to 8-4.

The Golden Bulls will return to the court on Monday, Jan. 4 for a CIAA contest against Bowie State. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.



Claflin Edge Winston-Salem 81-77 in Non-Conference Men’s Basketball Contest

Adolph "AJ" Caldwell scored a team-high 19 points in the win.
Courtesy: Claflin University Athletics

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina – Adolph Caldwell came off the bench to score 19 points and the Panthers hit nine free-throws down the stretch as Claflin University upended Winston-Salem State University 81-77 at the Tullis Arena.

The victory, Claflin's second in a row, move the Panthers season record to 5-7.

Karee Watson and De'shon Nails also scored in double-figures for the Panthers with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Watson also had a game-high 10 rebounds for Claflin.

Ryan McNeill-Moses, Austin Lawton and Triston Thompson contributed eight points each.

Winston-State, which dropped to 6-5, was led by Demone Harrison with a game-high 23 points and Terrell Leach with 21.

With 1:44 left in the game, Caldwell broke a 70-70 tie with a basket, putting Claflin ahead for good at 72-70. The Panthers sealed the win by connecting nine-of-14 from the charity stripe in final 1:12 minutes.

Winston-Salem pulled 79-77 with a second left, by Patrell Rogers was successful on a pair of free throws.

In the first half, the Panthers rallied from a seven-point deficit to start the game. Winston-Salem led 13-4 before Claflin erupted for a 17-8 run, tying the game at 20-20 on Ryan McNeill-Moses' basket with 10:29 left.

The contest would be tied twice over the next three minutes until a Brian Townsend's free throw at the 6:08 mark. The free throw gave the Panthers their first lead of the game at 26-25.

After five lead changes, Adolph Caldwell drilled a three-pointer with 3:27 left in the half, giving Claflin a 34-32 lead. The Panthers would maintain the advantage by outscoring the Rams 7-4 the rest of the half.

Claflin led 41-36 at the intermission.

Claflin returns to action Saturday, hosting Miles College in a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) contest at the Tullis Arena The game will follow the women's matchup at 3:30 p.m. and will be Youth Day.



Dillard Bleu Devils Score Season-High 132 Points En Route to 47-Point Thrashing of HTU Rams

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana  --  Dillard used 73 second half points to dismantle the Huston-Tillotson Rams by the score of 132-85 at the Battlefield in Dent Hall. Freshman Montrey Thomas (FR/Shreveport, La.) led all scorers with 26 points and dished out nine assists in a victory where the Bleu Devils produced seven scorers in double-figures.

The Bleu Devils (8-4, 0-0 GCAC) proved to be no match for Huston-Tillotson University as they dominated the Rams the entire afternoon by winning the rebound battle 58 to 32 and shooting better than 61 percent from the field. Junior Demetric Austin (JR/Washington, D.C.) finished with a double-double, scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 boards while teammate and reigning Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Patrick Thompson (SO/Geismar, La.) also finished with 21 points in the victory.

Ramon Johnson (SO/Newark, N.J.)Roboto, had a solid showing for the Bleu Devils, finishing with 16 points and nine boards.

Dillard returns to action on Saturday, January 2 as they travel to Jackson, Mississippi to face Tougaloo College in its first Gulf Coast Athletic Conference game of the year. Tip-off is set for 5:00 p.m.


Blue Tigers Open 2016 at Emporia State & Washburn

Complete Game Notes
Game #12: Lincoln (6-5, 2-3 MIAA) at No. 3 Emporia State (9-2, 3-2 MIAA)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016
Time: 1:30 p.m. CST
Site: Emporia, Kan. – William L. White Auditorium
Live Stats:
Live Video:

Game #13: Lincoln vs. Washburn (7-4, 3-2 MIAA)
Date: Monday, Jan. 4, 2016
Time: 5:30 p.m. CST
Site: Topeka, Kan. – Lee Arena (4,179)
Live Stats:
Live Video:

THE TIP OFF:  The Lincoln women's basketball team opens the new year on the road, as the Blue Tigers head to Kansas for a pair of MIAA contests. Lincoln begins 2016 on Saturday (Jan. 2) with a 1:30 p.m. CST game at Emporia State, which was ranked No. 3 in the country in the most recent WBCA/USA Today Division II Coaches Poll. The Blue Tigers then head to Washburn on Monday (Jan. 4) for a 5:30 p.m. CST tilt with the Ichabods. Both Emporia State (9-2 overall) and Washburn (7-4) are 3-2 in MIAA play while Lincoln closed the month of December with a 6-5 overall record and a 2-3 mark in league play.

- This is the 24th meeting all-time between Lincoln and Emporia State, with the Lady Hornets leading the all-time series, 21-2.

- Monday marks the 23rd meeting between Lincoln and Washburn, with the Ichabods having won each of the previous 22 games.

- On Saturday, Lincoln will play its second-straight game against a ranked opponent, as Emporia State was No. 3 in the latest WBCA/USA Today Division II poll. Lincoln last played on Dec. 20 against No. 16 Missouri Western.

- A win over ESU would be LU's first vs. a ranked team since an 83-77 win over No. 12 Pittsburg State in 2011-12.

PREVIEWING THE BLUE TIGERS:  Zuri Hill leads LU with 16.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while Lizzie Nessling is next on the rebound chart at 7.9. Hunter Yoakum is averaging 12.0 points while Dorian Briggs averages 10.4. Azaria Nave leads LU with 2.8 assists per contest.

HEAD COACH NICOLE COLLIER:  After leading LU to the postseason in two of her first three years on the job, Nicole Collierreturns for her fourth season as the head coach of the Blue Tigers. A three-year assistant with LU before taking over as the head coach, Collier has helped lead Lincoln to double-digit victories in four of the past six years.

LAST TIME OUT:  It was all tied up at 35 at the half, but No. 16 Missouri Western scored 50 points over the third and fourth quarters to hand the Blue Tigers an 85-62 loss on Dec. 20. Zuri Hill scored 19 and grabbed seven rebounds while Azaria Naveadded a career-high 17 points. Lizzie Nessling scored 11 and led LU with eight rebounds.

SCOUTING THE LADY HORNETS:  Emporia State is outscoring opponents 77.6-59.2, thanks in part to Kelly Moten's 15.5 points per night. Sandra Ngoie averages 12.3 points while Kelsey Barnwell (11.5) and Addie Lackey (9.3) are next on ESU's scoring chart. Kathryn Flott leads Emporia State with 8.8 rebounds.

ESU HEAD COACH JORY COLLINS:  The only coach in Emporia State history to begin his career with five-straight 20-win seasons, Collins has over 130 victories in six-plus years at ESU. Collins has led the Lady Hornets to three-straight MIAA titles and four-straight NCAA Sweet 16 appearances.

SCOUTING THE ICHABODS:  WU averages nearly 10 more rebounds per game than its rivals, led by Jayna Smith's 8.8 average. Erika Lane is the Ichabods only double-digit scorer, averaging 11.2 per night, though Erin Dohnalek & Alyxis Bowen are close with 9.9 and 9.2 ppg., respectively. Smith is WU's assist leader with 3.1 per game.

WU HEAD COACH RON McHENRY:  In 16 years as Washburn's head coach, McHenry has enjoyed tremendous success, leading the WU to over 350 wins and the 2005 NCAA Division II National Championship. McHenry has won eight regular season MIAA championships as well as seven MIAA tournament titles.

DOUBLE THE FUN:  Zuri Hill has been a force for Lincoln both as a scorer and a rebounder, and she has five double-doubles on the year. Hill, who doubled up in each of LU's first four games, leads the MIAA and was ranked 28th nationally in double-doubles as of Dec. 20, and currently is fifth in the conference in rebounding (8.7).

SWEET CHARITY:  Lincoln rarely has to worry when Lizzie Nessling and Hunter Yoakum are sent to the charity stripe, as both players are among the best free throw shooters in LU history. Both Nessling and Yoakum both have career free throw percentages of .838, with that accuracy rate leading all players in program history with at least 50 career attempts and two seasons on the team.

NO WORRIES WITH ZURI:  Zuri Hill has been one of the best players in the MIAA, as she is fifth in the league in rebounding (8.7) while ranking sixth in scoring (16.3). Hill, who is the only player ranked among the top-six in the MIAA in both rebounding and scoring, is also second in the league in both field goal percentage (.543) and
offensive rebounding (3.7), and she additionally is eighth in defensive rebounding (5.0).

NOTHING BUT NESS:  Lizzie Nessling was Lincoln's rebounding leader last season after grabbing at least four boards in 17 contests for an average of 6.3. Nessling is off to a great start again in 2015-16, ranking second on the team and seventh in the MIAA with 7.9 rebounds per night. Nessling has pulled down at least six boards in every game, highlighted by a career-high 14-in LU's win over Rockhurst.

REAPING REBOUNDS:  Rebounding has been Lincoln's forte this year, as LU ranks second in the MIAA with 41.3 boards per game. Lincoln is third in offensive rebounding (14.5) and defensive rebounding (26.7) with Zuri Hill (8.7, fifth) and Lizzie Nessling(7.9, seventh) each ranked among the top-10 in the conference.

COMING UP BRIGGS:  Dorian Briggs has turned into one of Lincoln's top scorers this year, reaching the double-digit mark five times while ranking third on the team with 10.4 points per night. Briggs is also averaging 1.7 assists and leads the Blue Tigers, and ranks 20th in the MIAA, with 17 steals.

POINTS A-PLENTY:  No player in the history of Dixon High basketball, female or male, has ever scored as many points as LU junior Hunter Yoakum, who scored 2,578 during her four-year career. Yoakum hasn't had any trouble finding the basket in college, as she's averaged 11.3 points throughout her Lincoln career, including 12.0 this season.

CENTURY SCORER:  With three long-distance baskets against Illinois-Springfield, Hunter Yoakum became just the fifth Blue Tiger to make 100 career three-point shots. Yoakum, who has drained 112 shots from downtown, is three treys shy of tying Allis Parker for third on the career list and 42 shy of Sheila Leopold's all-time mark of 151

HUNTING FOR REBOUNDS:  Hunter Yoakum has been one of LU's best scorers over the past three seasons, but this season she's also given LU a boost as a rebounder. After averaging 2.1 boards as a freshman and 2.9 last year, Yoakum is third on the team with 4.5 rebounds this year, grabbing at least five in five of Lincoln's past six games.

MANY MINUTES:  Lizzie Nessling and Hunter Yoakum have put in some work through LU's first 11 games, as both players lead the league in minutes played with 35.7 per game.

GEAR UP FOR THE GAME:  Get your Blue Tiger jerseys, apparel, accessories, office supplies and much, much more at, the official online store of LU athletics. You can get everything you will need for basketball season, with a portion of all sales going directly to support all 12 LU athletic programs.

NEXT UP:  Lincoln returns home on Thursday (Jan. 7) to host Nebraska-Kearney for a 5:30 p.m. CST contest.

By Dan Carr, Assistant AD for Media Relations

LU Puts Win Streak On The Line With 2 Games In Kansas

Complete Game Notes
Game #12: 
Lincoln (8-3, 4-1 MIAA) at Emporia State (5-5, 3-2 MIAA)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016
Time: 3:30 p.m. CST
Site: Emporia, Kan. – William L. White Auditorium (5,000)
Live Stats:
Live Video:
Game #13: Lincoln at Washburn (7-3, 3-2 MIAA)
Date: Monday, Jan. 4, 2016
Time: 7:30 p.m. CST
Site: Topeka, Kan. – Lee Arena (4,179)
Live Stats:
Live Video:

THE TIP OFF:  The Lincoln men's basketball team will try to keep its winning streak going into the new year as the Blue Tigers open 2016 with a pair of road games this weekend. Lincoln, which is 8-3 on the year and riding a four-game win streak, will open January in Emporia, Kan. on Saturday (Jan. 2) with a 3:30 p.m. CST game vs. Emporia State. Lincoln then travels to Topeka, Kan. on Monday (Jan. 4) to play Washburn at 7:30 p.m. CST. The Blue Tigers are tied for second in the MIAA with a 4-1 league record and takes on a pair of opponents who each are 3-2 in conference play.
- Saturday marks the 22nd meeting all-time between the Blue Tigers and Emporia State, with the Hornets owning a 17-4 advantage in the series.
- Lincoln will play Washburn on Monday for the 28th time, with the Ichabods leading the series, 24-3.
- The Blue Tigers enter 2016 with eight victories, their highest win total in a season since 2005-06.
- Lincoln is seeking its first nine-win campaign since going 14-12 in 2001-02.
- The Blue Tigers' four-game winning streak is the team's longest since 2004-05. On Saturday, Lincoln will seek its first five-game win streak since 2001-02.
PREVIEWING THE BLUE TIGERS:  Anthony Virdure (22.1) and Jaylon Smith (20.7) are each averaging over 20 points per night while O'Shai Clark averages a team-best 4.9 rebounds while scoring 9.0 per game. Richie Lewis leads the MIAA in steals with 27 and dishes 3.6 assists per game, the second best on the team after Virdure's 4.1. Tacourrus Mattox averages 4.6 rebounds and has blocked six shots over LU's last three games.
HEAD COACH JOHN MOSELEY:  In his second year as the head coach of Lincoln, Moseley has the Blue Tigers off to their best start in over a decade. Moseley joined LU after helping North Carolina Central reach the second round of the NCAA Division I tournament in 2013-14 as the associate head coach.
LAST TIME OUT:  Lincoln limited Missouri Western to just one made field goal over the final 8:18 of the game to win its fourth-straight contest, 82-67, on Dec. 20. Jaylon Smith led LU with 31 points while Anthony Virdure scored 15 to go with five assists.Richie Lewis added 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
SCOUTING THE HORNETS:  Emporia State has four players averaging double-digit points, led by Terrence Moore with 14.3 per game. Brandon Hall averages 12.7 points, followed by Charles McKinney and Joshua Oswals with 10.8 apiece.
ESU HEAD COACH SHAUN VANDIVER:  A former first-round NBA draft pick, Vandiver is in his fifth year leading the Hornets. Vandiver was an All-Big Eight performer as a junior and senior at Colorado and has 57 wins at Emporia State.
SCOUTING THE ICHABODS:  Brady Skeens leads Washburn with 7.9 rebounds per game and is scoring 9.8 points, the third-best average after Cameron Wiggins' 14.6 ppg. and Javion Blake's 13.1 ppg. Randall Smith has dished a team-high 41 assists and is next on the scoring chart at 9.0, while Jeremy Lickteig averages 6.6 points
WU HEAD COACH BOB CHIPMAN:  The all-time winningest coach in MIAA history, with 780 victories, Chipman is in his 37th season as the head coach at Washburn. In that time, Chipman has coached the Ichabods to 16 national tourney appearances, including the 1986-87 NAIA title, and has led WU to more than 500 MIAA wins.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  After averaging 23.0 points on .694 shooting, Jaylon Smith was named the MIAA Men's Basketball Player of the Week on Dec. 21. Smith, who led LU to three wins that week, including one over a Northwest Missouri team ranked No. 25 in the country, is Lincoln's first player of the week since 2010, when Lionel Booker was the Heartland Conference honoree.
...AND HERO:  In addition to being the league's player of the week, Smith was also one of 11 D2 players nominated for HERO Sports Hero of the Week. Smith was recognized for scoring 27 points on 10-13 shooting in LU's win over NWMSU.
REGIONAL LOVE:  After beginning the season 8-3, including 6-0 at home, people are beginning to notice the Blue Tigers. On Dec. 21, Lincoln was among the teams receiving votes in D2SIDA's Central Region poll, marking the first time ever that LU has been mentioned in those rankings.
HE GIVES AND HE TAKES:  Richie Lewis is one of the top thieves in the country, leading the MIAA and ranking seventh in NCAA Division II (as of Dec. 20) with 27 steals. With his teammates, Lewis is much kinder, as his 3.6 assist average is second on the team and sixth in the league. Lewis leads the MIAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.9) and is 16th nationally in steals per game (2.5).
GIVE HIM A PASS:  Lincoln leads the MIAA in assists with 15.2 per game, which is well above its average of 10.3 from last season. Anthony Virdure leads the team, and is third in the league, with 4.1 per game while Richie Lewis is sixth at 3.6 per night. 
NO PLACE LIKE HOME:  Jason Gym has been kind to the Blue Tigers so far, as LU is 6-0 and out-scoring opponents 93-70. Beyond being perfect at home, LU is shooting .545 from the floor and .475 from long distance at Jason Gym.
LEAGUE LEADERS:  Lincoln leads the conference in five statistics, including scoring (87.6) and turnover margin (+4.5). The Blue Tigers also lead the MIAA in assists (15.2), three-pointers made (9.4) and scoring margin (+10.9) while owning the conference's second-best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.34) and field goal percentage (.496).
ALL-AMERICAN:  Anthony Virdure was an NJCAA All-American at Mineral Area, and his play has translated well to the NCAA Division II level. Virdure's scoring average of 22.1 ranks fourth in the MIAA, and 30th in the country (as of Dec. 20), and he ranks third in the league with 2.8 made three-point shots per night. Virdure additionally is third in the MIAA in both assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0) and assists (4.1) and is 24th nationally in total points (243).
MR. SMITH:  Jaylon Smith is also off to a hot start in 2015-16, averaging 20.7 points through LU's first 11 games. Smith, who is currently fifth in the MIAA in scoring, has reached double digits in every contest, and has hit the 20-point plateau seven times. Smith leads the MIAA with 3.2 treys per night, and his .402 percentage rate from long distance is the eighth-best in the league.
DEFENDER:  Scoring hasn't been an issue for LU all season, as Lincoln leads the MIAA with 87.6 ppg., but LU is also a difficul team for opponents to score against. Lincoln is fourth in the league in three-point defense (.346) and fifth in field goal defense (.446) as well as third in steals (7.0).
BLOCK PARTY:  In addition to defending well, Lincoln has blocked 17 shots over the past four games, including eight against Northeastern State. Tacourrus Mattox had four blocks in that game while Jaylon Smith rejected three in the win over Missouri Western.
GEAR UP FOR THE GAME:  Lincoln fans can get everything they need for the game at, the official online store for LU athletics. Everything from jerseys to office supplies can be found on the site, with a portion of all sales going to benefit Lincoln athletics.
NEXT UP:  The Blue Tigers will put their perfect 7-0 record at home on the line on Thursday (Jan. 7) when Lincoln hosts Nebraska-Kearney for a 7:30 p.m. CST contest.
By Dan Carr, Assistant AD for Media Relations