Saturday, February 6, 2010

Binghamton (11-13, 6-3) at Black Bears (14-8, 6-3)

Saturday, Feb. 6, noon
Alfond Arena, Orono

The magnitude of this game goes far beyond the simple battle of third-place teams looking to stay in contention for the regular-season title. That's the big picture for sure. But the smaller, more immediate matter is this -- The game is about which team will launch itself into a bevy of road games with a much-needed victory.

The Black Bears are coming off two-straight so-so performances and will head out on the road for three straight games (UMBC, Stony Brook, New Hampshire) after the Alfond date with Binghamton. UMaine needs to regain its footing with a solid performance today.

The Bearcats are on a tear, racking up four straight wins behind the stellar play of guard Greer Wright. Freshman guard Dylan Talley, since returning from a contusion, has been a solid contributor. Talley was out when the Black Bears topped Binghamton in overtime earlier this season.

Wright (15.7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) has thrust himself into the conversation for the league's player of the year. During the Bearcats' four-game winning streak, he has averaged 23.3 points, including a 30-point outburst against Vermont. He also dropped 29 on UNH.

Talley, a freshman guard, has moved to second on the team in scoring at 11.7 a game. Wright and Moussa Camara (10 points a game) are the Bearcats' top 3-point weapons.

For Black Bears to win: Make the Bearcats a perimeter shooting team, don't let them get to the rim. ... Get some production from the frontcourt. Teams are focusing on Gerald McLemore and the Black Bears' perimeter. UMaine must get results underneath. ... Get out of the blocks. UMaine, for whatever reason, admitted to taking UMBC lightly and paid dearly for it. Then, in a tough road game at Vermont, admitted to coming out with a lack of intensity and paid for that. It's time to show the lessons of those two games and the past several seasons have been learned. Not going to say this game is a must win, but it's close to it with a three-game trip on tap.

First meeting: UMaine 66, Binghamton 61 in OT.

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