The Boston University men’s basketball team will play the University of Maine for the second time this season and the 100th time in the history of the teams on Tuesday night at Case Gym.
“They are a very good team,” said BU (11–11, 5–4 America East) coach Joe Jones. “They are a very talented group that plays with a lot of confidence. They present a problem because they have a lot of good inside and out players.”
In their first meeting on Jan. 2, Maine (8–14, 3–6 America East), thanks to a late comeback, defeated BU 63–58. The teams came out of the locker room at halftime with the game tied at 26, and BU dominated in the early part of the second half. However, the Terriers were not able to hold onto their six-point lead with five minutes left and eventually dropped the match. Junior guard D.J. Irving’s field goal with 3:59 left in the game would be the last for BU until the game was out of reach.
“I thought in that game we didn’t finish well,” Jones said. “We did control most of the game, but every game is different.”
The game was an even match and, aside from being outrebounded, the Terriers gave the Black Bears all they had. In their first few America East games, as seen in both their first loss against University of Hartford and their loss against Maine, the Terriers did not play well late in the second half.
Irving led the Terriers with 15 points in the loss to Maine while junior forward Dom Morris pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds.
Forward Alasdair Fraser led the Black Bears with 17 points and dominated the Terriers in the paint. The Scotland native is second (13.8) behind guard Justin Edwards (17.0) in points per game for the Black Bears.
Fraser also leads a strong rebounding Maine team with 8.7 rebounds per game. The Terriers are the worst offensive rebounding team in America East with just 8.1 offensive rebounds per game, while the Black Bears lead the category with 11.8 per contest. The height advantage also helps Maine in the blocked shots category. So far this season, Maine has 88 blocked shots while BU has a conference-low 38.
Even more significantly, BU is coming off a game against Hartford (12–10, 5–4 America East) in which Hartford center Mark Nwakamma registered a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds, further evincing BU’s height woes.
“Nwakamma made some really good individual plays against us and we didn’t do a good job defending him,” Jones said. “We have to be able to go in and stop Fraser definitely, but they are different post players … Fraser’s more of a post-up guy that can make a jumper or two.”
On the other hand, the Terriers have the highest 3-point field goal percentage (.378) in America East, while Maine has the lowest (.284).
Even with the contrasting styles of play, BU (.445) and Maine (.437) rank first and second respectively in America East in field goal percentage.
Since defeating BU on Jan. 2 as part of a four-game winning streak, Maine is struggling to find its feet in America East play. In their last seven games, the Black Bears have gone 1–6, defeating only the University of Vermont Jan. 22. Aside from its loss to Stony Brook University, however, Maine did not lose any of those games by double digits.
Additionally, Maine is 2–11 in away contests and has yet to earn a conference victory on the road.
Coming off a shaky victory against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and the loss at Hartford, Jones has highlighted his team’s absence of energy and the need for a higher level of intensity from the BU players.
“We’ve had two very good practices and our guys have really responded well,” Jones said. “They have focus right now, but we have to go out there and compete and get the job done.”