ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s basketball team plays its final game of the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 28, when it welcomes UNCW to Alumni Gym for Senior Night. The game marks the home finale for seniors Kevin Blake, Austin Hamilton and Ryan Winters. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.
ELON VS. UNCW: Saturday is the 13th meeting between Elon and UNCW. The Seahawks evened the all-time series at six wins apiece after claiming an 82-65 victory in Wilmington on Jan. 28. Costly turnovers by Elon coupled with a big first half by UNCW paved the way for the win for the Seahawks who scored 24 points off 16 turnovers by Elon and led 47-23 at halftime. Elijah Bryant went for 17 points and six boards in the setback. UNCW’s last visit to Alumni Gym was Nov. 29, 2009, in Matt Matheny’s first season, as the Seahawks came away with an 86-56 decision.
LOOKING BACK: Elon won its second straight game with a 72-65 victory over Northeastern on Feb. 26 at Alumni Gym. The Phoenix shot 58 percent in the second half and managed to jump on the Huskies early in the second frame behind the play of Elijah Bryant and Tanner Samson. Bryant scored eight straight to begin the second half to lead the Phoenix out to an early lead. Elon led by as many as 12 in the second period and held off the Huskies down the stretch. All three of Samson’s triples came in the second session. Dmitri Thompson scored 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 17 minutes off the bench.
BRYANT HONORED: Elijah Bryant earned CAA Rookie of the Week honors for the fifth time this season on Feb. 23. Bryant had a strong all-around week, averaging 15.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists as Elon split a pair of road games. The freshman guard narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points, a team-high nine rebounds and five assists in an 83-75 overtime win at Delaware on Feb. 21. Bryant contributed 20 points and three steals against College of Charleston three days prior on Feb. 18. Bryant has scored double figures in 23 of Elon’s 29 contests. He is averaging 15.0 points per game against league opponents this season.
BEYOND THE ARC: With three triples against Northeastern on Feb. 26, Tanner Samson now sits at 95 threes this season, good for first in the CAA (fifth nationally). Samson leads the CAA and ranks third nationally in three-point attempts with 264 – the most in a single season in school history. The previous record for three-point attempts in a season was 238 by Isenbarger in 2012-13. Samson currently sits at 234 career triples, good for fourth in program history. He trails Sebastian Koch (242), Chris Kiger (259) and Isenbarger (264) on the career chart.
CLIMBING THE CAA CHARTS: With 95 threes this season, Tanner Samson is tied with former JMU player Kyle Swanston for seventh in CAA single-season history. Samson is five triples away from passing George Mason’s Donald Ross and William & Mary’s David Schneider for fifth in league history. Samson’s 264 three-point attempts this season are the fifth most in CAA single-season history.
NINE DIMES: Austin Hamilton’s nine assists tie a career-high mark set on New Year’s Eve in 2012 against Manchester. Hamilton enters Saturday’s game with 276 career assists. He is 14 away from passing Steven Harvin for 10th in program history in career assists.
5+ THREES IN A GAME: Tanner Samson has made five or more threes in a game six times this season and 10 times overall in his career. Samson made six threes in Elon’s last game on Feb. 18 at CofC. The Elon record for threes in a game is nine by Sebastian Koch. Koch hit nine at 21st-ranked Colorado on Dec. 13, 2013. Samson came one shy of Koch’s mark earlier this season when he hit eight at Northwestern.
AHEAD AT THE HALF: Elon has been in the lead at halftime 10 times this season and has won nine of those contests. Conversely, the Phoenix is 4-16 when trailing at intermission. Elon’s one-point lead at the break against Northeastern on Feb. 26 was its first advantage after 20 minutes since leading against Delaware on Jan. 24.
ELON IN FEBRUARY: Going into Saturday’s game against UNCW, Elon has a 26-23 mark in the month of February under head coach Matt Matheny. Last year, Elon went 7-1 in February.
SENIOR CLASS: Elon’s senior class of Austin Hamilton, Kevin Blake and Ryan Winters have posted a total of 67 wins – the second most by a senior class during Elon’s Division I era. Last year’s senior class of Ryley Beaumont, Jack Isenbarger, Sebastian Koch, Lucas Troutman and Egheosa Edomwonyi finished with 68 wins over four years.
291 AND COUNTING: The Elon men’s basketball program has made at least one three-point field goal in 291 consecutive games. The last time Elon did not make a three in a game was Jan. 30, 2006, at Georgia Southern when the team went 0-of-14 from deep.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Elon has forced at least 12 turnovers in 26 of its 30 games this season. Elon forced a season-high 21 turnovers against Charlotte on Nov. 16. The Phoenix forced 19 turnovers on Jan. 3 at Drexel, the most against a league opponent this season.
40-PERCENT MARK: Elon has a 13-7 record this season when it shoots 40+ percent from the floor. The Phoenix is 0-10 when it shoots below 40 percent.
READY FOR LIFTOFF: When it’s all said and done, the Phoenix will have traveled a total of 17,415 miles on the road this season via flight and bus. Elon’s longest trip was a 5,764-mile round-trip to Cancun, Mexico. The team’s shortest trip was a 44-mile round-trip to the Greensboro Coliseum.
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 90-99. 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.