WILMINGTON, NC (UNCWSPORTS.COM) — The Colonial Athletic Association’s two most prolific offenses collide on Thursday when UNCW and William & Mary light up the scoreboard at venerable Trask Coliseum.
The Seahawks (15-2, 4-0) and Pride (8-6, 2-1) tangle at 7 p.m. in a key early-season matchup between the league’s two offensive-minded teams. UNCW leads the CAA with 86.8 points per game, followed by W&M at 81.3 points each outing.
Live Seahawk Digital Network (SDN) coverage of the UNCW-W&M contest begins with Mike Vaccaro providing the pregame show at 6:45 p.m. Visit UNCWsports.com/SDN for live audio coverage. In addition, a radio broadcast of the game can be heard on WLSG 94.1 FM and 1340 AM (Wilmington) and WSME 97.1 FM and 1120 AM (Jacksonville).
“I feel good about where we are right now, but we still have a long ways to go,” said Kevin Keatts, UNCW’s successful third-year head coach. “When you get a chance to win road games, it’s so important in conference play. I feel like we can be playing better basketball, but when you’re 4-0, you have to take it.
“Conference play is tough. It’s really early in the conference and things can change any minute. If you’re not careful, it can spiral on you quickly because there are so many quality opponents in the conference. You have to play hard every night and can’t take any nights off because anyone can beat you.”
Winning outside the friendly confines of Trask Coliseum, where the Seahawks lead the CAA in attendance, has been critical to UNCW’s exceptional season. Keatts and his talented club stand 9-2 in games away from Wilmington.
Home has been kind to the Seahawks, too. Keatts’ club is a clean 6-0 in the 5,200-seat venue, with eight home dates left on the docket. But the successful UNCW coach and his group faces a big challenge late Thursday in the Tribe.
The methodical Keatts is an outstanding 28-4 at home in three seasons on the coast and 15-4 in conference home games, but one of those losses came to the Tribe on Feb. 7, 2015. Senior guard Daniel Dixon tops three players in double figures for W&M with 16.6 points per game and racked up 57 points in wins last week over Hofstra (95-93, OT) and Elon (88-85). Dixon has reached double figures in eight straight games and averaged 28.0 ppg in his last four appearances.
Dixon, who was selected as the CAA’s Player-of-the-Week last week, has reached double figures in eight consecutive games for the fourth longest streak in the loop. Sophomore standout C.J. Bryce of UNCW ranks second in the CAA with double digits in 13 straight contests.
“They’re good and they make you pay for all of your mistakes,” Keatts said of the Williamsburg, Va., club. “They have four guys who can really score the basketball. They have a unique style. In my opinion, we haven’t done a good job of guarding them in their sets the last couple of years, but I don’t think anyone in the conference has.
“It will be a big challenge for us. Daniel Dixon is playing as good as anyone in the conference. And everyone knows what Omar Prewitt is capable of doing. We have to do a good job of keeping those guys in front of us.”
The Seahawks will counter with a sharpshooting starting five, including four who are collecting double digits. Bryce (17.9), senior guard Chris Flemmings (15.9), senior guard Denzel Ingram (15.2) and sophomore forward Devontae Cacok (13.8) provide plenty of scoring options.
UNCW and W&M are meeting for the 68th time. The Seahawks own a 41-26 advantage in the longtime series, including 21-2 at Trask Coliseum. The Pride, however, has won three of the last four matchups in Wilmington.
Following Thursday’s test with the Tribe, the Seahawks remain at home to entertain Hofstra on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the first of two meetings this season with Joe Mihalich’s Pride.
Season tickets are still available by visiting the UNCW Athletics Ticket Office in Trask Coliseum, calling 1-800-808-UNCW or clicking on the Tickets button via UNCWSports.com. Tickets start as low as $99, with 5 and 8-game mini-plans also available.
For more information on the UNCW men’s basketball team throughout the 2016-17 season, visit UNCWsports.com and click on the Men’s Basketball button. Additional information is also available on UNCW’s social media channels: Facebook (UNCW Men’s Basketball), Twitter (@UNCWmenshoops), Instagram (UNCWBasketball).