The Boston University men’s basketball team will look to win its third straight game when it visits the America East-leading University of Vermont Tuesday night.
Coming off a 67–55 win against the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Saturday afternoon, Vermont (16–7, 9–2 America East) will be seeking its fifth straight victory.
During the winning streak, the Catamounts took down the slumping University at Albany, University of New Hampshire and University of Hartford. Since its last matchup with BU (13–11, 7–4 America East) Jan. 8, Vermont has gone 7–1, only losing a three-point game to the University of Maine on Jan. 22.
Vermont’s primary strength lies in its defense, while its offense is run through its forwards.
“They’re very big,” said BU coach Joe Jones. “We cannot allow the game to be played strictly in the paint. We have to do a good job of pressuring them and try to keep them out of the lane. Their strength is in their ability to get the ball in the paint by penetration or the pass.”
In the first matchup, the BU defense stepped up to the plate. The Terriers held the Vermont offense to 27.3 percent from the field while forcing the Catamounts into 14 turnovers. Additionally, the Terriers were able to counter the size of Vermont by playing strong in the paint and outscoring the Catamounts down low, 26–18.
Jones is looking for the defense to step up again Tuesday night.
“We need to get our hands on the ball,” Jones said. “We really need to try to keep them out of rhythm with our athletic ability. They are bigger than us but we are quicker and we have the unit that has the advantage.”
Aside from its defensive play, Jones was also pleased with his team’s energy and intensity considering the fact that this team has, at many points this season, looked sluggish and not mentally prepared.
Junior forward Dom Morris registered a double-double in the last game against Vermont, while junior guard D.J. Irving recorded a game-high 20 points.
The Terriers offense is on fire of late, as it leads the America East in field goal percentage (.449) as well as 3-point field goal percentage (.384). Additionally, freshman guard John Papale (.427) and junior guard Travis Robinson (.410) lead the individual 3-point field goal percentage category.
Vermont does not have one player in the top ten in 3-point shooting percentage. Irving is fifth in the America East in scoring with 14.7 points per game, while Vermont’s leading scorer, forward Clancy Rugg, is 13th in the conference with 11.5 points per game.
On the other hand, the Catamounts have one of the strongest defenses in America East, holding opponents to a conference-best 57.3 points per game. They also allow teams to shoot just 39.7 percent from the field, second-best in America East.
Therefore, according to Jones, the Terrier s’ offense will have to perform exceptionally well Tuesday night.
“On the offensive end, we’re going to have to search out good shots,” Jones said. “We’re going to have to play through the shot clock a little better. They’re going to be all over us at times for the first 15 seconds or so.
“We’re used to first option, first ball screen, first penetration. We’re just so used to being able to score that we’re going to have to be able to search out shots.”
Tuesday night, their last in-league contest with Vermont, is an opportunity for the Terriers to show that they can play with the best in the America East.
“You play 30 games, but you’re not going to play great every night,” Jones said. “You have to hope that this won’t be one of them and that we’ve prepared and that we’re ready to go. I have all the confidence in the world that we’ll be ready to go and we’ll go up there and do what we have to do.”