Old Dominion (1-5) at William & Mary (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kaplan Arena (11,300) -- Williamsburg, Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: ODU 1-3, W&M 1-1. Away Record: ODU 0-2, W&M 2-2. Neutral Record: ODU 0-0, W&M 0-0. Conference Record: ODU 0-0, W&M 0-0. Series Record: Old Dominion leads, 66-16.
GAME NOTES: Colonial Athletic Association rivals meet as part of the Optima Health Challenge on Saturday night, as the William & Mary Tribe play host to the Old Dominion Monarchs.
The challenge is part of an all-sports competition between the two schools, with the champion being named at the end of the 2012-13 athletic season.
After a promising 22-win campaign a year ago, ODU has gotten off to a disastrous start to the 2012-13 season with losses in five of its first six games. Since winning 72-61 over Morgan State on Nov. 10, the Monarchs have lost four in a row to Texas-San Antonio (79-70), Cleveland State (67-55), VMI (76-71) and Murray State (79-72).
William & Mary got off to a great 3-0 start, which was already half of its season total from the entire 2011-12 season. Since then however, the Tribe has fallen on hard times with three straight defeats to Miami-Ohio (72-59), Wake Forest (63-57) and Richmond (86-76 in double OT).
ODU has a firm handle on the all-time series with W&M, 66-16, having won nine consecutive meetings dating back to the 2007-08 season.
ODU has struggled to find its shooting touch early on, making good on only 40.5 percent of its field goal attempts. The teams has had a strong showing on the boards through six games (plus-9.3 rebounding margin), but that has been offset by high turnover numbers (15.3 pg) and a field goal percentage defense of .441. Things were slightly better the last time out for the Monarchs, as they shot 44.6 percent from the floor and hung tough on the road against Murray State, but they faltered down the stretch in the defeat. Donte Hill put up a team-high 16 points while adding eight rebounds and three steals, but he was a less-than-stellar 2-of-9 from three-point range. DeShawn Painter tallied a double-double in 28 minutes off the bench with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Deion Clark (12 points) also contributed to a solid effort from the second unit. On the season, Dimitri Batten (10.7 ppg) and Donte Hill (10.5 ppg) are the only ODU players to average double figures in points, but neither shoots better than 40 percent from the floor.
William & Mary has started the season much hotter from the field than ODU, making 47.3 percent of its field goal attempts, but that has only resulted in 69.5 ppg. Both numbers were helped in the double-overtime thriller against Richmond, as the Tribe shot 48.3 percent for the game but couldn't outlast the Spiders in the second extra session. The extended minutes allowed Tim Rusthoven (20 points) and Marcus Thornton (22 points) to pile up big point totals, while Kyle Gaillard added 16 points on a perfect 7-of-7 from the field and Brandon Britt chipped in 14 points. They have been extremely reliant on their top three scorers through the first six games. Thornton (18.3 ppg), Rusthoven (15.3 ppg), and Britt (15.2 ppg) all shoot better than 50 percent from the field, but the three combine for more than 70 percent of the team's scoring output, with only Gaillard (8.2 ppg) averaging more than five points per game among the rest of the squad.
ODU appears to be a much-depleted team this season that will struggle to put up points, while William & Mary seems to be on the fast track to a big improvement. Behind their trio of impressive scorers, the Tribe will prevail at home to move above .500.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: William & Mary 70, Old Dominion 63
12/01 10:36:08 ET