Rams Set for Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic

Rams Set for Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic

THE BASICS
Rhode Island vs. Bucknell
Tip-Off: Saturday, Dec. 22, 10:00 p.m. EST
Live Coverage: Stats | Audio | ESPN3
Game Notes

Diamond Head Classic Bracket

RHODE ISLAND VS. BUCKNELL - SERIES NOTES

  • Saturday will be the ninth meeting in the series between the teams, which the Rams lead 5-3. 
  • It will be the first meeting in more than 50 seasons between the teams. The last time the teams played was Jan. 30, 1965, a 74-69 Rhody victory.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson was the President of the United States the last time Rhode Island and Bucknell faced off.
  • Both teams played in the NCAA Championship last season. After claiming the 2018 Patriot League title, Bucknell fell in the first round to No. 3 Michigan State. Rhode Island advanced to the Round of 32, defeating Oklahoma in the first round before falling to Duke. 
  • The Bison have played well of late, winning two of their last three contests. The lone loss was a 73-71 defeat at No. 15/14 Ohio State on Dec. 15.
  • Rhode Island, meanwhile, comes into the game with a two-game win streak.
  • Bucknell senior guard Kimbal Mackenzie leads the team in scoring (15.8 points per game), minutes played (34.4 per game), 3-pointers made (19) and free throw percentage (85.0 percent). 
  • The Bison rank in the top 40 nationally in 3-point field goals per game, averaging 9.6. 
  • Rhode Island ranks No. 2 in the nation in 3-point defense, holding its opponents to just 24 percent (43-of-179) from beyond the arc. 
  • The winner of this game will face the winner of Saturday's contest between TCU and Charlotte.

ESPN TO CARRY ALL GAMES 

  • ESPN will broadcast and/or stream every game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
  • Rhode Island's game against Bucknell will stream on ESPN3.
  • Kanoa Leahey will be on the play-by-play, with Cory Alexander as the color analyst.
  • The Rams will face either Charlotte or TCU in the second round. Game time and broadcast channel will depend on Saturday's result. Updates will be provided on GoRhody.com. 
  • All three games for the Rams will have an audio broadcast with Stone Freeman on the call. The first two rounds will be available on B101. The Christmas Day game will be on 920 AM/104.7 FM

RAMS HAVE STRONG RECENT HISTORY IN NEUTRAL SITE GAMES

  • Rhode Island is in the midst of a stretch in which it will play four consecutive neutral site contests.
  • The Rams have handled neutral site games well over the last three seasons. With its win over West Virginia in the Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut last time out, Rhode Island improved to 10-5 in neutral site games dating back through the 2016-17 campaign. 
  • That includes two NCAA Championship opening-round victories, as the Rams beat Creighton in the 2017 tournament and Oklahoma in last year's opening round.
  • Last season, the Rams also beat Seton Hall at the 2017 NIT Season Tipoff in Brooklyn, and they knocked off No. 24 Cincinnati at the 2016 Hall of Fame Tipoff, which was held at Mohegan Sun.
  • Over the last two seasons, Rhode Island is 5-1 in the Atlantic 10 Championship, winning the tournament in Pittsburgh in 2017-18 before reaching the finals in Washington, D.C. last season.
  • The team's neutral site losses over the last three seasons have come against Duke (once at the 2016 Hall of Fame Tipoff and again in the Round of 32 of the NCAA Championship last season); Oregon (round of 32 at the 2017 NCAA Championship); Virginia (2017 NIT Season Tipoff) and Davidson (2018 Atlantic 10 Championship final).

DOWTIN APPROACHING 300 ASSISTS

  • After getting seven assists against West Virginia, junior Jeff Dowtin now has 292 career assists, leaving him just eight shy of 300.
  • He needs 30 more to crack URI's top 10 all time.
  • He is eighth in the Atlantic 10 with 16.8 points per game.
  • In his first two seasons, Dowtin averaged 6.4 field goal attempts per game. This season, he takes 13.6 per game.
  • He has made at least seven field goal attempts in four of the team's eight games.
  • Despite the increase in volume of shots, Dowtin's field goal percentage has increased significantly. He is shooting .477 from the floor, despite being just 8-for-33 from beyond the arc (.242).
  • Last season he shot .446, and as a freshman he made .418 of his field goal attempts.
  • On shots inside the 3-point arc, Dowtin is shooting 57.9 percent (44-of-76).
  • Dowtin has been strong at the free throw line, making 22-of-28 thus far (.786).
  • He has scored in double digits every game this year, getting at least 16 in five of the eight games.

SECOND CHANCES ARE KEY

  • Rhode Island's work on the offensive boards has helped the Rams average 13.8 second-chance points per game.
  • The Rams have scored 10 or more second-chance points in six of their eight games.
  • By contrast, opponents are scoring just 10.0 second-chance points per game.
  • Against Holy Cross, Rhode Island did not allow any second-chance points.

OFFENSE SHOWS SIGNS OF RHYTHM

  • While Rhode Island has had its struggles offensively this season, the Rams have looked much sharper of late.
  • Over its last two games, Rhody has shot .478 from the field (55-of-115), raising its overall shooting percentage to .407.
  • The team is attacking the basket more often, rather than settling for jump shots. 
  • Rhode Island has averaged 28.7 free throw attempts over the last three games after not attempting more than 23 in any of the first five games of the season.
  • Better passing and sharing of the ball led to five players scoring in double digits last time out against West Virginia. Jeff Dowtin (18), Fatts Russell (18), Cyril Langevine (15), Christion Thompson (12) and Jermaine Harris (11) were all in double figures.
  • It was the first time this season Rhode Island had more than three players in double figures.