ELON, N.C. – For the third straight year, the Elon University men’s basketball team will face a nationally ranked Duke squad in December. The Phoenix and second-ranked Blue Devils square off on Monday night, Dec. 15, inside Cameron Indoor Stadium at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
ELON VS. DUKE: Monday marks the 27th all-time meeting between the Phoenix and the neighboring Blue Devils. Duke leads the series, 19-7. Monday marks the fourth time the two schools have met since Elon moved to the Division I ranks. Last year, seventh-ranked Duke topped Elon, 86-48, on New Year’s Eve at the Greensboro Coliseum. Elon’s last trip to Cameron was Dec. 20, 2012, when it dropped a 76-54 decision to top-ranked Duke. Duke has been ranked in the top seven in each of the last three meetings, including twice at No. 1.
ELON VS. NATIONALLY RANKED FOES: Monday is Elon’s 21st game against a nationally ranked team since transitioning to Division I. Elon is 0-20 in those contests. The Phoenix faced three nationally ranked teams last year – #7 Duke, #21 Colorado and #15/16 UMass. Elon’s game against UMass last year at Alumni Gym marked the first time in school history it hosted a nationally ranked team. Last year’s 10-point margin of defeat against UMass is the closest Elon has been in any game versus a nationally ranked team. Currently, Elon does not have another top-25 team on its schedule.
ELON VS. THE ACC: Elon is 34-115 all-time against current members of the ACC and 1-26 since moving to the Division I ranks. The last time Elon defeated one of the current members of the ACC was in 2005 when the Phoenix went on the road to defeat the Oliver Purnell coached Clemson Tigers, 74-69, on December 30, 2005. Monday is Elon’s only game this season against a member of the ACC and first since facing Duke last year. Elon’s record against current ACC teams is: Clemson (1-1), Duke (7-19), Florida State (0-1), Georgia Tech (0-3), Maryland (0-2), Miami (1-0), North Carolina (4-18), NC State (8-21), Notre Dame (0-2), Virginia (0-6), Virginia Tech (7-14), Wake Forest (6-38).
LOOKING BACK: The Phoenix narrowly pulled out a 19-point comeback upset at MIzzou on Thursday, Dec. 11, but could not get over the hump late in a 78-73 loss. Luke Eddy scored a career-high 27 points and was instrumental in pulling the Phoenix back within one point with less than 30 seconds to play. Eddy missed a pull-up jumper in the waning moments and Tanner Samson could not connect on a corner three that would have tied the game late. Elon outscored Mizzou 46-32 in the second half and ended the game with a 40-37 edge on the glass. It marked the first loss against an SEC team for the senior class of Austin Hamilton, Ryan Winters and Kevin Blake (2-1 vs. SEC teams).
LOOKING AHEAD: Elon renews its crosstown rivalry with UNCG on Dec. 20 following Monday’s game at Duke. The Phoenix has won 10 straight against the Spartans.
BEYOND THE ARC: With three makes from behind the three-point line at Mizzou, Tanner Samson now sits at 173 in his career, good for seventh all-time in Elon history. Samson recently passed current Phoenix assistant Chris Long on the all-time chart and needs eight more to pass Drew Spradlin for sixth in program history. Samson leads the CAA in threes made with 34, good for eighth nationally.
REACHING THE CENTURY MARK: Elon scored 100+ points in back-to-back games against Virginia University of Lynchburg and Central Penn last week, marking the first and only such occurrence since the 1982-83 season.
RARE COMPANY: Tanner Samson’s eight triples against Northwestern are tied for the second most in a single game since Elon made the transition to the Division I ranks. Matt Nowlin hit eight threes against UNCG on Feb. 7, 2004, while Drew Spradlin knocked down eight against Chattanooga on Jan. 23, 2010. Sebastian Koch hit eight triples last season against Central Penn. Koch holds the Elon single-game record with nine threes in last year’s game at 21st-ranked Colorado.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: Elon’s 56-point win over the Virginia University of Lynchburg Dragons on Dec. 2 marked the largest margin of victory during Matt Matheny’s tenure. The previous record was 50 points set in last year’s 114-64 win over Washington & Lee.
ON THE BOARDS: Elon’s 67 rebounds against VUL on Dec. 2 marks only the third time since 2005 the team has grabbed 60+ rebounds in a game. Elon hauled down 60 boards in last year’s game vs. Central Penn. In 2005, the Phoenix hauled down 67 against Guilford.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Elon ranks first in the CAA in opponent three-point field goal percentage at 27.6 percent. Elon’s 6.6 steals per game ranks fourth in the league, while the Phoenix is second CAA in turnover margin at +1.89.
BRYANT HONORED AGAIN: Elon freshman guard Elijah Bryant earned CAA Rookie of the Week honors on Dec. 1 for the second time this season. Bryant averaged 12.7 points in Elon’s 2-1 week. Bryant scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 74-73 win over Morgan State, had 10 points in a 70-68 victory at Miami (Ohio) and also scored 10 in a loss to North Florida. Bryant, who has scored double figures in all six games this season, was named to the Cancun Challenge Mayan Division All-Tournament team for his performance. He is the leading scorer among CAA rookies.
HEAD COACH MATT MATHENY: The 2014-15 season marks the sixth year at Elon for head coach Matt Matheny. Matheny enters Monday’s game with a career record of 82-86. Matheny was voted by the Southern Conference media as the Coach of the Year and was a finalist for CollegeInsider.com’s Hugh Durham award in 2012-13, which honors the nation’s top mid-major coach.
ROAD TO BALTIMORE: The 2015 CAA Men’s Basketball Championship is scheduled for March 6-9 in Baltimore, Md., at Royal Farms Arena. Last year, Delaware topped William & Mary, 75-74, in the championship game to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.