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January 30, 2013NO. 1 BLUE DRAGONS, SURGING SAINTS TO MEET WITH WEST LEAD AT STAKE
The first half of the 2013 Jayhawk Conference Western Division championship season concludes on Wednesday night and the entire league will be watching the Sports Arena to see what shape the race will take when the second half opens on Saturday.
The NJCAA No. 1-ranked Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team will meet second-place Seward County in a 7:30 p.m. battle in Hutchinson.
The game will be broadcast live on Blue Dragon flagship station KHUT-FM (102.9) and on sister station KWBW-AM (1450) beginning at 7:20 p.m. The Blue Dragon Sports Network will provide a live videostream and audio-only stream beginning at 7:20 p.m.
The Blue Dragons (21-0) lead the Jayhawk West with a 7-0 record. HCC holds a one-game lead over Seward County (15-6), which has reeled off six-straight victories since dropping the league opener to Barton.
A victory gives Hutchinson a two-game lead on the field at the midway point of the league season. A Seward win would knot the league race, but the Saints would own the early tie-breaker with HCC and the rematch is Feb. 27 in Liberal.
Hutchinson won its 21st-straight game to open the season with a 74-55 victory on Saturday at Cloud County. The Blue Dragons used a 22-6 run late keyed by A.J. Spencer to pull away from the Thunderbirds and give HCC head coach Steve Eck his 99th victory on the Hutchinson bench. Eck will also seek the 750th all-time coaching victory of his storied career.
Seward County, which is once again receiving votes in the NJCAA poll, rallies from a one-point halftime deficit at home to defeat Butler 71-67.
Wednesday opens a two-game homestand for the Blue Dragons.
Blue Dragons No. 2 in NJCAA in all-time wins
With their 76-64 victory over Mesa Community College on Nov. 3, the Blue Dragons reached 1,600 wins in their illustrious history.
The Blue Dragons are 1,618-556, a winning percentage of .744 in their 81st season of men's basketball.
The Blue Dragons trail only Southeastern Iowa in all-time wins. Southeastern Iowa.
HCC played its 2,100th game on Dec. 4, 2010 vs. Harcum College.
With their 76-69 victory over Seward County on Jan. 3, 2010, the Blue Dragons moved past Moberly Area Community College for second place on the NJCAA all-time wins list.
With a 79-53 victory over Labette on Nov. 1, 2008, the Blue Dragons became only the third NJCAA program to post 1,500 victories. Win No. 1,400 came on Feb. 9, 2004 at Butler.
Blue Dragons in national poll
For the second time in three seasons, the Blue Dragons have reached the No. 1 spot in the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Poll. The Blue Dragons have maintained that top spot for three-straight weeks.
Before Jan. 15, the last time HCC was ranked No. 1 was in 2010-11. That team held the top spot for two weeks.
Before that, the last time that Hutchinson was ranked No. 1 in a regular season poll was on Jan. 7, 1992. The Blue Dragons - the starting point guard on that team was current HCC women's coach John Ontjes - started that season 15-0 and spent one week in the nation's top spot before getting bumped off. That team finished 22-7 and was Region VI runner-up.
The latest No. 1 national ranking is only the fourth since 1975 for the Blue Dragon men. The 1974-75 Blue Dragons, coached by Dick Gisel, started their season 24-0. That Blue Dragon team finished 32-3, won the Jayhawk West and Region VI crowns and finished eighth in the 1975 NJCAA Tournament.
HCC has now been ranked in 11 consecutive NJCAA polls, dating back to last season.
21-0 start is third best in Blue Dragon history
Fast starts under the Steve Eck watch have been nothing new in his four seasons with the Blue Dragons.
This season's 21-0 start is the third best in team history, surpassing the 2010-11 Blue Dragons. Both teams reached No. 1 in the NJCAA Rankings.
In Eck's four seasons at Hutchinson, the Blue Dragons have gone 12-2, 14-0, 13-1 and 14-0 in non-conference play.
The best start to a season came in 1974-75, a 24-0 start to a season.
Current winning streak is fourth longest in history
Hutchinson's current 21-game winning streak is the fourth-longest in the program's 83-year history.
The current win surpasses the 1993-94 Blue Dragons at No. 4. The 2012-13 Blue Dragons now try to match the 1987-88 national champion Blue Dragons for the third-longest winning streak in team history. That team won 23 straight games during its run to the NJCAA championship.
The Blue Dragons have had 33 winning streaks of 10 or more games in program history and five of 20 or more. The longest win streak in HCC history is 24 games, which was done twice in 1967-68 (coached by Gene Keady) and 1974-75 (coached by Dick Gisel).
About the 2012-13 Blue Dragons
+ The Blue Dragons average 83.0 points per game offensively. HCC is shooting 48.7 percent overall and has shot 50 percent or better 10 times this season, including 2 of the last 3 games. The Dragons are shooting 32.3 percent from 3-point range and is 67.2 percent from the foul line. The Blue Dragons have fallen to second in the Jayhawk West in free-throw shooting. HCC ranks second in scoring offense and leads the league in field-goal percentage.
+ Defensively, the Blue Dragons rank seventh in scoring defense at 67.6 points per game. Opponents are shooting 38.3 percent overall and 27.5 percent from 3-point range. The Dragons are second in 3-point defense and third in field-goal defense.
+ The Blue Dragons have been particularly strong defensively over the last three games, holding two opponents to less than 30-percent shooting. Over the last three games, the Dragons are allowing 59.3 points per game. Opponents are shooting 30.2 percent overall and just 20.0 percent from 3-point range.
+ Through seven games of Jayhawk West play, HCC is averaging 78.9 points, shooting 48.2 percent overall. The Blue Dragons haven't utilized the 3-point shot as much in conference play. Shooting 28.8 percent, the Dragons are just 17 of 59 from distance in league play. Defensively, HCC is allowing 66.4 points, 36.6 percent field-goal shooting and 25.2 percent from 3-point range.
+ Freshman guard Kadeem Allen, a three-time Jayhawk Conference men's basketball player of the week, is fourth in the Jayhawk West in scoring at 16.9 points per game. He has scored in double figures in 18 of 19 games played this season, averaging 19.3 points per game in Jayhawk West games. Allen is shooting 43.7 percent, 36.2 percent from 3-point range and 69.6 percent from the foul line. Allen also has team highs of 69 assists and 48 steals. Allen ranks fourth in the KJCCC West in steals and seventh in assists.
+ Coming off his third double-double of the season on Saturday vs. Cloud County, sophomore guard A.J. Spencer is second in scoring at 15.0 points per game, which is ninth in the Jayhawk West. Spencer ranks fourth in field-goal percentage at 60.5 percent, while leading the West at the free-throw line (83.6 percent). Spencer is averaging 16.9 points in conference play, shooting 63.8 percent. The sophomore is averaging 6.2 rebounds per game.
+ Sophomore forward Alex Davis averages 13.1 points per game with a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game. Davis is 10th in the Jayhawk West in scoring and seventh in rebounding. Davis is shooting 48.0 percent from the field and 63.0 percent from the foul line. He has gone to the line 138 times this season, second-most in the league. Davis leads the Jayhawk West lead in blocks at 2.57 rejections per game.
+ HCC will be without the services of sophomore point guard D'Von Campbell, a UTEP transfer, for an undetermined amount of time because of injury. He has missed six games so far. Campbell averaged 11.4 point and 3.9 assists, which is eighth in the Jayhawk West. He was shooting 40.0 percent from 3-point range with 16 3-pointers.
+ Freshman Tafari Whittingham will also be missing from the HCC lineup. He left last Wednesday's game vs. Pratt with an injury and didn't return. Whittingham, who started the last four games for the injured Campbell, was averaging 9.3 points, shooting 52.1 percent.
+ The Blue Dragon bench is averaging 19.9 points for the season, but that number has dropped to 13.7 points in conference play. Sophomore Dre Henley is the leading scorer off the bench. After a season-high 18 against Pratt on Wednesday, Henley is averaging 6.5 points, shooting 55.8 percent from the floor, which ranks seventh in the Jayhawk West. He had a career-high six assists on Saturday vs. Cloud County.
+ The Blue Dragons have out-rebounded only 10 of 21 opponents this season. HCC is plus 1.3 in rebounding advantage, pulling down 41.0 boards per game. The Blue Dragons are averaging 13.2 offensive rebounds per game. HCC is a plus-1.2 rebounding in conference play, pulling down 41.1 rebounds.
+ The Blue Dragons average 18.3 assists per game and 9.5 steals.
+ Hutchinson averages 15.9 turnovers and forcing opponents into 19.5 turnovers per game. The Blue Dragons had a season-low eight turnovers vs. Barton on Jan. 16.
+ HCC is 16-0 at the Sports Arena this season, averaging 83.6 points per game.
+ HCC is 5-0 on the road this season, averaging 81.4 points per game.
Scouting Seward County
+ After finishing third in the 2012 NJCAA Tournament, the Saints were the preseason pick to win the Jayhawk West and was ranked as high as No. 9 in the NJCAA poll this season., The Saints had a rocky non-conference season by their standards, going 10-4 with losses to Kingdom Prep Academy and Northwest Tech.
+ The Saints have gotten on a roll in conference play with six-straight victories and are doing it with defense. Seward County is allowing just 58 points per game in conference play.
+ Seward County ranks fifth in the Jayhawk West in scoring offense at 72.5 points per game. The Saints are fifth in field-goal percentage at 43.2 percent and second in 3-point percentage at 34.2 percent. Seward's 116 makes are third most in the league.
+ Defensively, the Saints are No. 1 in scoring defense in the league at 59.0 points per game. The Saints rank third in field-goal defense at 39.2 percent and seventh in 3-point defense at 33.4 percent. The Saints have allowed 111 3-pointers, third-fewest in the league.
+ Guard Kaheem Ransom ranks eighth in the Jayhawk West in scoring at 14.8 points per game. Ransom is shooting 42.4 percent overall and has made 41 of 112 3-pointers (36.6 percent/sixth in KJCCC West). He is third in made treys at 1.95 per game. Ransom is also eighth in steals at 1.95 per game.
+ Guard Jabari Peters is second on the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game. Peters shoots 38.6 percent and has made 32 of 96 3-pointers. He also shoots 74.2 percent from the free-throw line which ranks fifth in the league. Peters is fifth in steals at 2.14 per game.
+ Center Edson Avila is third in scoring at 10.8 points per game and is one of the top rebounders at 6.2 boards per game. He shoots 52.1 percent and has a team-high 18 blocked shots.
+ Malcolm Hill-Bey comes off the bench to average 9.0 points per game, while Leslee Smith averages 7.5 points per contest.
+ Seward County averages 38.0 rebounds per game and allowed 34.0 per game. The Saints grab 13.1 offensive boards per contest. Smith is the top rebounder at 6.3 per game.
+ The Saints average just 11.4 assists per game. Ransom has 46 assists and Hill-Bey has 43.
+ Seward County averages 16.9 turnovers per contest and forces 21.0 per game.
+ The Saints are 10-2 at the Green house, 4-1 in road games and 2-2 on neutral floors.
Series history against Seward County
This will be the 83rd meeting between Hutchinson and Seward County in a series that began in 1970.
The Blue Dragons own a decisive 67-25 all-time record against the Saints.
HCC is 40-4 all-time against Seward County in games played in Hutchinson. HCC owns a 26-17 record at Liberal. The Saints had won five-straight in the Green House against Hutchinson before the Blue Dragons defeated the Saints 80-66 on Feb. 1 at the Green House.
HCC trails 4-1 in Region VI meetings, the only victory coming in 1981.