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NCAA First Four Game Notes: Fairleigh Dickinson takes on Prairie View A&M





The 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will kickoff tonight at UD Arena with two of the hottest teams in the nation. Fairleigh Dickinson has eight in a row and Prairie View A&M who has reeled off 11.

The two teams have met before and the series is tied 1-1.

Game 34
#16 Fairleigh Dickinson (20-13, 12-6 NEC)
vs. #16 Prairie View A&M (22-12, 18-1 SWAC)
Date: Tuesday, March 19
Time: 6:40 p.m.
Location: UD Arena (Dayton, Ohio)


Opening Tip

  • The Knights earned their second NEC Championship in the last four seasons and nabbed a share of the NEC regular season title for the first time since 2006.
  • Making its sixth-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, FDU is seeking its first win in program history (0-5). The Knights last appearance came in 2016 as they made it to the dance with the third-youngest team in the nation.
  • STREAKING! The Knights have won (8) games in a row..(14) of their last (16)..also have a (6)-game and (3)-game win streak this season. Prairie View also enters the tournament red hot having won 11 straight and 18 of their last 19.
  • With the win in the NEC final, head coach Greg Herenda improved to 7-3 in the NEC postseason at FDU. Herenda also netted career win No. 200 back on February 23 against Wagner.
  • All five Knights starters are averaging double figures in points this season. They are one of just four teams in the NCAA Tournament (Georgia State, St. John’s and Tennessee) to feature five scorers at 10+ points per game.
  • The team has logged five double-digit scorers 10 times and at least four in 22 of its 33 games.
  • The Knights led the NEC in FG% (47.8%), 3-PT FG% (40.4%),  scoring margin (4.2), Assist/Turnover ratio (1.1), steals (7.7) and turnover margin (1.3). Their 40.4 percent clip from behind the arc is fifth in the nation and their 47.1 percent field-goal percentage is 29th.
  • All-NEC First Teamer, Darnell Edge led the NEC in both 3-pt FG% (46.9%) and FT% (88.5%). His 46.9 percent three-point clip is fourth best in the nation. He’s also first in career free throw shooting among active players in the NCAA (91.6%) and is one 3-pointer shy of setting the Knights’ all-time record (194).
  • Seniors Edge (All-NEC First Team) and Mike Holloway Jr. (All-NEC Second Team) have book-ended their careers with NEC Championships. Edge was named this year’s NEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
  • In their 2016 NCAA Tournament appearance the Knights fell to Florida Gulf Coast in the First Four round.
  • This season, the Knights are 18-0 when leading with five minutes to play in regulation.

Postseason Notes

  • The Knights earned a share of the NEC Regular Season title for the first time since 2006 and enter this season’s conference tournament as the No. 2 seed. The Burgundy and Blue have now qualified for the NEC’s postseason in five of Head Coach Greg HErenda’s six seasons.
  • Fairleigh Dickinson is 7-3 in NEC playoff games under Herenda and 34-25 all-time in the NEC Tournament. They have reached the finals 11 times (6-5).
  • FDU has won NEC Tournaments in 1985, 1988, 1998, 2005, 2016 and 2019. The six NEC Tournament championships are tied for second all-time with LIU and behind Robert Morris’ eight titles.
  • In the NEC championship game win over SFU, the Knights shot a season-high 63.9 percent from the field.
  • In the win over SFU, Edge, Bishop and Jenkins each scored 20+ points. It is the first time this season the Knights have registered three 20-point scorers in a game.

FDU in the NCAA Tournament (W-L: 0-5)

  • 1985 Southeast Regional: #1 Michigan 59, #16 Fairleigh Dickinson 55
  • 1988 Midwest Regional: #1 Purdue 94, #16 Fairleigh Dickinson 79
  • 1998 Midwest Regional: #2 Connecticut 93, #15 Fairleigh Dickinson 85
  • 2005 Chicago Regional: #1 Illinois 67, #16 Fairleigh Dickinson 55
  • 2016 East Regional: #16 FGCU 96, #16 Fairleigh Dickinson 65

The Series
All-Time Series…1-1
Last Meeting… FDU 84, Prairie View A&M 70 (11/24/12 – @ South Padre Inv. Texas)
First Meeting…Prairie View A&M 77, FDU 66 (11/15/01 – @ BCA Inv. Raleigh, N.C.)

The Coaches

  • Head Coach Greg Herenda is in his sixth season at the helm of the Knights. Last season, the Knights enjoyed their third consecutive .500 or better season in NEC play as Herenda led the team to a 9-9 conference mark. Under Herenda, the Knights have qualified for the NEC Tournament in four of his five seasons, including a 2016 NEC Championship when the team earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament featuring the third-youngest team in the nation.
  • Byron Smith is in his third full season at the helm of the Panthers and has led the team to its first SWAC Championship in 21 years and first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.After serving the previous three seasons as an assistant coach, the Bossier, Louisiana native served as interim head coach over the final 12 games of the 2016 season. Prior to Prairie View A&M, Smith ran a basketball performance business in the Houston area. Collegiately, Smith spent one season (2009-10) at Texas Southern and helped the Tigers advance to the championship for the first time since 2003. Smith served as an assistant coach at Texas A&M and helped lead the Aggies to consecutive NCAA  appearances. Smith was a standout player at UH from 1989-91, twice earning All-Southwest Conference honors under Coach Pat Foster.

PVAMU in the NCAA Tournament (W-L: 0-1)
First NCAA Tournament appearance and first SWAC Championship since 1998 (21 yrs.)
1998 – L, 52-110 to #1 Kansas

Scouting Prairie View A&M (website)
The Panthers won their opening game at Santa Clara 81-64 before dropping their next 11 games prior to SWAC play. Once they entered conference action, the Panthers were nearly unstoppable as they rolled to an 18-1 overall record and captured the SWAC Championship for the first time since 1998. The team is led by senior guard Gary Blackston, who was named the SWAC Tournament MVP, and led the team with 17 points, six steals and four rebounds in their conference championship game against Texas Southern 92-86 this past Saturday. Blackston’s 15.2 points per game tops the Panthers, while junior Devonte Patterson and junior Gerard Andrus average 13.4 and 10.0 points, respectively. Defensively, Dennis Jones spearheads an attack, which averages 8.8 steals per game – 14th-most in the country. Jones earned SWAC Defensive Player of the Year honors after nabbing two steals per contest.

Knights Last Time Out
The Knights captured their second Northeast Conference Championship in the last four years by defeating Saint Francis 85-76 at DeGol Arena last tuesday. The Knights (20-13) are back in the NCAA Tournament for the second time since 2016 and the sixth time in program history.

All five Knights starters scored in double figures for the 11th time this season led by senior guard and NEC Tournament MVP, Darnell Edge’s 21 points. Junior Kaleb Bishop amassed his second double-double of the season with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and 11 rebounds. Sophomore Jahlil Jenkins poured in 20 points, classmate Elyjah Williams scored 12 points with four blocked shots and senior Mike Holloway Jr. netted 12 points with a career-high five assists.

The starting five also scored all 85 of the Knights’ points in the win. As a team, the Knights shot a season-high 63.8 percent from the field, 7-of-13 from three-point range and drained 18-of-20 at the line. At the defensive end, the Burgundy and Blue blocked eight shots — their second-highest output this season. Five of the team’s six NEC Championships have now come as the No. 2 seed.

In the loss, the top-seeded Red Flash (18-14) shot 48 percent overall but just 4-of-17 from the free throw line.

Up Next
The winner of Tuesday’s game travels to Salt Lake City, Utah to take on top seed in the West Region, Gonzaga (30-3) on Thursday night.