Thursday, March 8th
BURLINGTON, Vt. -- The UVM men's basketball team hosts UMBC at 11am Saturday morning at Patrick Gym with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
On paper, the advantages in this matchup all point to the Cats. Vermont has won 23 straight games against UMBC, and John Becker is 16-0 versus the Retrievers in his seven seasons as head coach.
This year, the Cats won their two regular season meetings with UMBC by a total of 43 points: a 71-56 victory at Patrick Gym in early January, and an 81-53 win less than a month later in Maryland.
The Retrievers, the second seed in the conference have talent. Senior guard Jarius Lyles is the second leading scorer in the conference at twenty points a game, and fellow senior guard K-J Maura is the America East defensive player of the year, but in both Vermont wins this season, UMBC had no answer for the Cats inside game.
In the victory in Burlington, Payton Henson had 16 points and 14 rebounds and UVM outscored UMBC in the paint overall 36 points to 12. In the rout in Baltimore, Drew Urquhart and Henson combined for 34 points and 16 rebounds and won by 28 despite a 27 point night from Lyles.
Despite the numbers, the Cats insist overconfidence won't be an issue come Saturday.
"We respect this team and we understand that they are dangerous.", coach John Becker said Thursday. "That's great that we've had success against them in the past, and earlier this season, but none of that matters. The only thing that matters is how we play on Saturday and we know that they are capable of beating us. So we have to play really well."
"We're going to have a game plan prepared for them and it's going to be up to us to go out there and execute it to the best possible way we can." said senior Payton Henson. "We've had success (against UMBC) and I think that's good for us. We don't need to go into this one overthinking it too much, just go out and execute the gameplan the coaches give to us and go out and give it our all."