ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s basketball team begins its inaugural trek through the Colonial Athletic Association on Saturday, Jan. 3, in the City of Brotherly Love when it takes on the Drexel Dragons. Tip is scheduled for 4 p.m. inside the Daskalakis Athletic Center in Philadelphia. Pre-game coverage on WPCM 95.1 FM/920 AM begins at 3:30 p.m.
ELON VS. DREXEL: Elon and Drexel have met just once prior to Saturday’s game in Philadelphia. The Dragons topped the Phoenix last year, 71-64, in its first game of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Rutgers. Elon outscored Drexel in the second period, but a 10-point halftime lead for the Dragons and a lackluster shooing performance from beyond the arc (2-of-16) was too much for the Phoenix to overcome. Lucas Troutman led Elon with 23 points, while Ryley Beaumont finished with 10.
LEAGUE OPENERS: Since making the transition to the Division I ranks, Elon is 8-7 all-time in conference openers. It marks the third straight year the Phoenix begins conference action on the road. Matt Matheny has a career heading coaching record of 2-3 in league openers.
LOOKING BACK: Elon closed non-conference play with a 69-64 win over Marist on Dec. 28 at Alumni Gym. Kevin Blake had a career day with 20 points in the victory, as the Phoenix held off a late surge by the Red Foxes. Marist managed to knock down 10 threes in the loss – a season high for any opponent versus Elon, who leads the CAA in three-point field goal percentage defense.
THREES IN A GAME: Elon attempted only 11 threes against Marist on Dec. 28. During the Matt Matheny era, Elon has had only four total games in which its attempted 11 or fewer three-pointers in a game. The Phoenix is 2-2 in those contests.
LOOKING AHEAD: Following its game at Drexel, the Phoenix travels to Towson on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. for its second league contest. Elon’s first home CAA game is Jan. 8 versus William & Mary.
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM: Elijah Bryant earn CAA Rookie of the Week honors for the third time this season on Dec. 29. Bryant averaged 19.0 points in two wins against Kennesaw State and Marist, pouring in a season-best 25 at KSU to go along with five assists. Bryant leads all CAA freshmen in scoring at 12.5 points per game.
SIMILAR VENUES: Many have made comparisons between Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center and Elon’s Alumni Gym. Prior to Elon’s arrival in the CAA, the DAC had the smallest capacity of any CAA basketball venue at 2,509. Elon’s Alumni Gym has an official capacity of 1,607.
HOME SWEET HOME: Elon’s win over Marist on Dec. 28 improved its Alumni Gym record versus non-conference foes over the last four seasons to 18-5.
FROM DEEP: With two three-point makes against Marist, Tanner Samson now sits at 182 in his career, passing Drew Spradlin for sixth in school history. The junior from Littleton, Colo., ranks first in the CAA (seventh nationally) in threes made with 43 and is shooting 39.8 percent from deep. Samson’s 108 attempts from beyond the arc are first in the CAA (seventh nationally).
DEFENDING THE THREE: Elon leads the CAA and is 22nd nationally in three-point field goal defense, holding the opposition to 28 percent from deep this season.
HEAD COACH MATT MATHENY: The 2014-15 season marks the sixth year at Elon for head coach Matt Matheny. Matheny enters Saturday’s game with a career record of 85-87. Matheny was voted by the Southern Conference media as the Coach of the Year in 2012-13 and was a finalist for CollegeInsider.com’s Hugh Durham award, 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.