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March 19, 2013

Blue Dragons draw Howard

BLUE DRAGONS DRAW HOWARD COLLEGE IN FIRST NJCAA TOURNEY SINCE 1997

The Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team on Tuesday night will make its 17th overall appearance and first in 16 years in the NJCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament at the Sports Arena.

The Region VI champion Blue Dragons (31-1) will play 2010 national champion Howard College (29-5) at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday in a second-round matchup.

The game will be broadcast live on Blue Dragon flagship station KHUT-FM (102.9) and on sister station KWBW-AM (1450) beginning at 6:20 p.m. A live audio stream and live stats will be provided by the Blue Dragon Sports Network and a live videostream will be on NJCAATV at njcaa.org.

The Blue Dragons earned their first trip back to the Sports Arena for the NJCAA Tournament since 1997 after defeating Barton 74-57 in the Region VI Tournament championship game on March 9 at Hartman Arena in Park City.

The No. 9 nationally ranked Blue Dragons are the No. 4 overall seed in the 2013 NJCAA Tournament, one of eight top seeds to get first-round byes in the new 24-team single-elimination tournament format.

Howard was ranked No. 11 in the final NJCAA poll and was seeded No. 13. The Hawks eliminated No. 20 East Mississippi 63-54 in an opening-round game on Monday. The Hawks, who made the tournament field as an at-large selection, are making their eight NJCAA Tournament appearance.

For HCC head coach Steve Eck, this will be his second Division I NJCAA Tournament and third national tournament overall. At Redlands in 2003, Eck's team won the Division II national championship. One year later, Eck and Redlands played in the 2004 Division I championship game and lost to Southeastern Iowa.



Blue Dragon history in NJCAA Tournament

Hutchinson will be making its 17th overall appearance in the NJCAA Tournament this year.

That ties Three Rivers Community College for sixth most in tournament history.

The Blue Dragons have a 40-21 NJCAA Tournament record. The 40 wins are sixth most in tournament history. Three Rivers is fifth with 41 wins. Moberly is the all-time leader in tournament wins with 62.

The Blue Dragons have an opening-round record of 11-5 in tournament play. Their last first-round game was a 60-53 loss to San Jacinto in 1997. HCC's last opening-round victory was 99-83 against Bossier Parish in 1994.

Hutchinson captured NJCAA national championships in 1988 and 1994. The Blue Dragons are the last Region VI team to win a national championship.

The Blue Dragons have played Texas schools seven times in the NJCAA Tournament.



Blue Dragons to be No. 4 NJCAA Tournament Seed

The Region VI champion Blue Dragons drew the No. 4 overall seed for the 2013 NJCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

The NJCAA Tournament format went through a major change this season, changing from the 16-team false double-elimination format to the new 24-team single-elimination field.

The 16 district champions, four at-large teams and four zone teams make up the 24-team field. The four at-large teams were non-district champions selected from all over the country. The four zone teams are six randomly drawn regions - the zone qualifiers will rotate to a different set of six regions each year - which make up the final four teams of the tournament.

Iowa Western (31-2) is the No. 1 overall seed this season. Spartantburg Methodist College (32-0) is the No. 2; Central Florida (30-3) and Hutchinson make up the top four seeds. Seeds 5 through 8 are Vincennes University (31-2), Central Arizona (29-4), East Georgia (30-2) and New Mexico Junior College (27-6).

In addition to Howard and East Mississippi, Hutchinson has the No. 12 Hagerstown (29-4)/No. 21 Lee College (24-10) winner and No. 5 Vincennes University.



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 1,628-559, 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.



About the 2012-13 Blue Dragons

+ The Blue Dragons finished the regular season as the Jayhawk West's No. 1 scoring offense and top shooting team. HCC averaged 80.9 points per game, shooting 47.8 percent overall and 32.9 percent from 3-point range. The Blue Dragons had a league-low 116 3-pointers this season. HCC is the No. 1 free-throw shooting team in the league at 68.0 percent.

+ Defensively, the Blue Dragons ranked last in scoring defense at 67.8 points per game. Opponents are shooting 39.5 percent, fourth best in the league and the eighth-best defensive field-goal percentage in Blue Dragon history. HCC led the Jayhawk West in 3-point defense at 27.5 percent, fourth-best in team history.

+ HCC completed the 2013 Jayhawk West season averaging 77.3 points, shooting 45.8 percent overall. The Blue Dragons didn't utilize the 3-point shot as much in conference play. Shooting 29.9 percent, the Dragons are just 49 of 164 from distance in league play. Defensively, HCC allowed 68.3 points, 39.5 percent field-goal shooting and 26.0 percent from 3-point range.

+ Freshman guard Kadeem Allen won Jayhawk West Player and Freshman of the Year honors. He posted eight 20-point games and two 30-point games in conference play. Overall, he tied for second in the Jayhawk West in scoring at 17.4 points per game. He has scored in double figures in 31 of 32 games played this season, averaging 19.4 points per game in Jayhawk West games. Allen is shooting 43.8 percent, 33.3 percent from 3-point range and 72.1 percent from the foul line. Allen also has team highs of 120 assists and 81 steals. Allen wound up leading the Jayhawk West in steals at 2.51 per game and was eighth in assists at 4.03 per game.

+ Sophomore guard A.J. Spencer is second in scoring at 15.0 points per game, which was sixth in the Jayhawk West. Spencer ranked third in field-goal percentage at 59.8 percent, while leading the West at the free-throw line (80.8 percent). Spencer averaged 15.4 points in conference play, shooting 59.1 percent. The sophomore is averaging 5.7 rebounds per game. He had four double-doubles.

+ Sophomore forward Alex Davis earned Region VI Tournament MVP honors and he became the program's career and single-season blocked shots leader. He averages 13.5 points per game with a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game. Davis was 10th in the Jayhawk West in scoring and sixth in rebounding. Davis is shooting 48.2 percent from the field. Davis leads the Jayhawk West in blocked shots at 2.81 rejections per game and is the HCC career blocked shots record with 157.

+ Sophomore point guard D'von Campbell returned to the line-up 13 games ago after missing six in a row because of injury. Campbell is averaging 12.1 points and 3.92 assists. He was fourth in the league in assists. Campbell had a career-high-tying 21 points and four 3-pointers against Colby and followed that with 16 against Cloud County.

+ Sophomore Rozell Nunn is averaging 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Nunn broke out of a shooting slump during the Region VI Tournament and is now shooting 46.7 percent from the floor and 74.7 percent from the foul line. Nunn has 99 assists and 32 steals.

+ The Blue Dragon bench is averaging 16.3 points for the season. Freshman Tafari Whittingham is the leading scorer off the bench at 7.3 points per game, shooting 49.7 percent. Sophomore Dre Henley is averaging 5.7 points, shooting 51.9 percent.

+ The Blue Dragons have out-rebounded 20 of 34 opponents this season. HCC is plus 1.9 in rebounding advantage, pulling down 40.5 boards per game. The Blue Dragons are averaging 13.0 offensive rebounds per game.

+ The Blue Dragons average 17.6 assists per game and 8.7 steals.

+ Against Northwest Tech, the 2012-13 Blue Dragons broke the program record for total blocked shots with 177.

+ Hutchinson averages 15.0 turnovers and forces opponents into 17.9 turnovers per game. The Blue Dragons had a season-low six turnovers vs. Garden City on Feb. 6.

+ HCC is 22-1 at the Sports Arena this season, averaging 83.2 points per game.

+ HCC is 7-2 on the road this season, averaging 78.5 points per game.



HCC Postseason Notables

+ HCC is averaging 82.8 points per game offensively and 66.3 points defensively.

+ The Blue Dragons shot 50 percent or better in each of the four Region VI games and shot 54.3 percent overall.

+ HCC was 19 of 45 from 3-point range (42.2 percent). A.J. Spencer was 6 of 9 and D'Von Campbell was 5 of 14 from long range.

+ Defensively, HCC held four Region VI opponents to 40 percent overall shooting, 33.8 percent from 3-point range and 15.5 turnovers per game.

+ Alex Davis was named the Region VI Tournament MVP. He was joined by Kadeem Allen, A.J. Spencer and Rozell Nunn on the All-Tournament Team.

+ Davis averages 18.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and shot 59.2 percent from the field.

+ Spencer averaged 15.5 ppg, Allen 14.0 ppg and Campbell 12.3 ppg.

+ HCC was a plus-5.0 in rebounding margin.



Scouting Howard

+ Howard won the 2010 NJCAA national championship. The Hawks are making their eighth overall appearance (1953, 1956, 1960, 1965, 1969, 2006, 2010).

+ Howard is an at-large selection after losing to District 14 champion New Mexico Junior College 60-59 on March 9. That loss interrupted a nine-game losing streak.

+ Ranked No. 11 in the final NJCAA Poll and seeded 13th in the tournament, Howard defeated East Mississippi 63-54 on Monday. Cameron Forte had 18 points to lead the Hawks. Ladon Carter had 12 and 7-footer Goran Huskic had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

+ Sophomore guard Rico Richardson, a native of Topeka, was a Blue Dragon redshirt in 2011.

+ Offensively, Howard averages 76.6 points per game and shoots 50.7 percent overall. The Hawks are 200 of 580 from 3-point range (34.5 percent) and 71.7 percent from the free-throw line.

+ Defensively, the Hawks are among the best in the nation, allowing 60.8 points per game. Opponents are shooting 40.3 percent overall and 31.6 percent from 3-point range. Howard forces 15.4 turnovers per game.

+ Freshman forward Cameron Forte is the team's leading scorer at 22.6 points per game. Forte is shooting a staggering 63.4 percent from the floor and 65.6 percent from the foul line. Forte is averaging a team-high 7.5 rebounds.

+ Sophomore guard Jacob Thomas is averaging 14.4 points and 3.1 assists per game. He had 68 made 3-pointers entering the NJCAA Tournament and shoots 39.4 percent from long range.

+ Sophomore guard Phillip Miller is averaging 13.2 points per game. He has 69 made 3-pointers and is shooting 39.4 percent from long range. Miller shoots 82.1 percent from the foul line.

+ Richardson averages 7.3 points and a team-high 4.0 assists per game.

+ Huskic, a 7-foot Serbian, averages 6.9 points and 4.9 rebounds while shooting 69 percent from the field.



Series history against Howard

This will be only the third meeting between Hutchinson and Howard ever and the first since 1993.

The series is tied 1-1. Howard won the 1992 meeting with Hutchinson at the Sports Arena 78-65. The Blue Dragons, one year later, earned a 66-65 victory over the Hawks, also at the Sports Arena.



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