ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s basketball team heads to DeKalb, Ill. to take part in the NIU Thanksgiving Classic, Nov. 23-26, inside the Convocation Center. Northern Illinois is hosting the tournament. In addition to the Phoenix and the Huskies, the UIC Flames and the Cal Poly Mustangs will also take part in the tournament.
You can also listen to the action on the Elon IMG Sports Network on 104.5 FM, 1200 AM or on the TuneIn app as Taylor Durham and Ryan Meizinger will have the call from the Convocation Center.
LAST TIME OUT
Elon put together a solid team-effort as all nine Phoenix players that saw the floor scored leading the maroon and gold to a 74-61 victory at South Florida on Thursday, Nov. 17, inside the Sun Dome. For the third straight game, the Phoenix had four players finish in double-figures. Steven Santa Ana and Brian Dawkins led the scoring for the Phoenix with 13 points each. Karolis Kundrotas and Luke Eddy also scored in double-figures, recording 11 points apiece. Dmitri Thompson grabbed a team-high six rebounds and Sheldon Eberhardt dished out a game-high five assists.
After trailing 12-8 after five minutes of action, the Elon used a 16-2 surge over the next 4:55 to take a 27-14 lead after Dmitri Thompson hit a three-pointer. USF responded with a 6-2 run capped off by a Michael Bibby triple with 5:50 on the clock, but a 10-4 run by the Phoenix to close out the half gave Elon a 39-26 lead at the break. The Phoenix got off to a hot start after halftime with an 8-0 run to extend its lead 47-26. USF responded with an 8-2 run of its own to cut into the Elon lead 49-34 with 14:37 remaining, but a quick 6-0 run by Swoope and Eddy extended Elon’s lead by 21, 55-34, at the 13:52 mark. Over the final 10 minute stretch, USF continued to try to claw its way back into the game, outscoring Elon 20-13 in that stretch, but the Phoenix played well defensively and a combined team effort helped the maroon and gold clinch a 74-61 victory.
Below is the schedule of games for the NIU Thanksgiving Classic. A tournament champion will be automatically awarded to a team that goes undefeated (3-0). If two teams finish with a 2-1 record, the tiebreaker is the head-to-head matchup.
Wednesday, Nov. 23
Elon vs. UIC – 4:30 p.m. CT (5:30 p.m. ET)
Cal Poly vs. Northern Illinois – 7:00 p.m. CT (8:00 p.m. ET)
Friday, Nov. 25
Elon vs. Northern Illinois – 1:00 p.m. CT (2:00 p.m. ET)
Cal Poly vs. UIC – 3:30 p.m. CT (4:30 p.m. ET)
Saturday, Nov. 26
Elon vs. Cal Poly – 1:00 p.m. CT (2:00 p.m. ET)
UIC vs. Northern Illinois – 3:30 p.m. CT (4:30 p.m. ET)
This will be the first meeting for all four teams as Elon has never faced UIC, Northern Illinois, or Cal Poly. The Phoenix is 0-1 versus the Horizon League, losing to Butler 86-40 on Dec. 19, 2005. Butler at the time was a member of the Horizon League before moving to the Big East in 2012. Elon is 2-4 all-time versus MAC opponents playing Ohio, Miami (Ohio), Ball State and Buffalo. Elon is 0-1 all time against Big West opponents, with a loss to Hawaii 54-50 during the 1981-82 season.
HIGH POWERED OFFENSE
Although only three games have been played, Elon currently ranks first in the CAA averaging 89.3 points per game this season, which ranks 33rd in NCAA Division I. Elon brings back most of its players from last season that contributed to the fourth-highest scoring team in the CAA last season. The Phoenix averaged 75.9 points per game, were second in the CAA with 15.3 assists per game, and proved to be a threat behind the arc averaging a league-best 9.5 triples per game. Dainan Swoope and Tyler Seibring contributed to Elon’s success behind the three-point line ranking 12th (60 3PTM) and 13th (59 3PTM) respectively. Luke Eddy also finished with 144 assists last season, which is the 10th-most assists in Elon single-season record books.
Dmitri Thompson’s put-back dunk against South Florida on Thursday made SportsCenter’s Top-10 plays of the day. The play was voted as the No. 2 play in the Top-10.
SHARING THE WEALTH
Elon had all nine players that saw action against South Florida score on Thursday night. Although it is very early in the season, Elon has five players averaging double-digit scoring and another that is not far behind. Steven Santa Ana is averaging 17.0 ppg, Brian Dawkins and Karolis Kundrotas are at 11.3 ppg, Tyler Seibring is scoring 11.0 ppg and Dainan Swoope is averaging 10.0 ppg. Luke Eddy has a scoring average of 9.7 ppg to this point.
Elon returns an experienced squad of 14 players and four starters from a team that finished 16-16 overall and 7-11 in conference play in 2015-16. The Phoenix brings back 11 players who saw action in 16 or more games and six players who averaged over eight points a game last season. Elon returns 84% of its scoring from last season and 36% of those points came from the 2015-16 freshman class (Tyler Seibring, Steven Santa Ana, Dainan Swoope, Karolis Kundrotas, and Sheldon Eberhardt).
Elon welcomes back four starters in seniors Luke Eddy (10.5 ppg) and Christian Hairston (8.6 ppg), as well as junior Dmitri Thompson (9.9 ppg) and sophomore Tyler Seibring (9.8 ppg). Ryder Bowline and Patrick Ryan join Eddy and Hairston to make up this year’s senior class. Highlighting the four returning starters is 2016 CAA All-Rookie Team selection, sophomore forward Tyler Seibring, who finished fourth on the team in scoring (9.8 ppg) and first in CAA points per game (11.8). Elon also made one addition in the offseason, bringing freshman guard Seth Fuller (Dublin, Ohio) into the fold. Luke Eddy and Christian Hairston will bring senior leadership on the floor. Eddy finished third in the CAA in assists last season and his 144 assists ranked 10th most in single-season program history.
JUST HOLD ON, I’M COMING HOME
Elon has two players on its roster returning to their home state of Illinois for the NIU Thanksgiving Classic. Sophomore forward Tyler Seibring is from Normal, Ill., which is located about an hour and 45 minutes south of DeKalb and a little over two hours southwest of Chicago. Seibring attended Normal Community High School. Redshirt sophomore Jack George is from Libertyville, Ill., which is located about an hour and 30 minutes northeast of DeKalb.
HEAD COACH MATT MATHENY
Head coach Matt Matheny won his 110th game at Elon on Thursday, Nov. 17, at South Florida. With the win, he passed Mark Simons for the fifth most in program history. Matheny is six wins away from moving into fourth all-time. Robert “Bob” Burton (1986-93) won 115 games at Elon.
329 AND COUNTING
The Elon men’s basketball program has made at least one three-point field goal in 329 consecutive games (not including exhibition games). The Phoenix averaged 9.5
mades three pointers a game last season. 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.
Elon has scored 270 points in its first three games, the most since scoring 270 to open the 1991-92 season under head coach Bob Burton. The Phoenix began that season with a 3-0 mark. The Phoenix scored 196 points in its first two games, the most in the first two games since Elon scored 213 to start the 1982-83 season under head coach Bill Morningstar.
LUKE EDDY MILESTONE
Senior point guard Luke Eddy reached 200 assists in his career with three assists against South Florida. He currently sits at 201 for his career. He is currently 89 assists away from moving into the top-10 in program history.
After two weeks of being on the road, the Phoenix returns home on Wednesday, Nov. 30, to host Florida International inside Alumni Gym. The contest will tip off at 7 p.m. Elon will then head to Washington, D.C. to face Georgetown in the BB&T Classic. The game will begin at 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on FS1.