Men's hoops continues second round of league play this week

Kevin Williams

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover men's basketball team will look to keep pace atop the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings with a pair of key contests this week.

SETTING THE SCENE: The Panthers will face fellow top-four HCAC competitors this week in Transylvania and Bluffton as the second round of league play is underway. Hanover will travel to face Transy at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 23, before welcoming Bluffton at 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 26.

FAST FACTS:

  • Hanover is 13-4 overall and currently riding a five-game winning streak. The recent form marks HC's longest winning streak of the season. The Blue and Red have posted at least three consecutive wins on three different occasions this winter.
  • The Panthers enter the week tied with Rose-Hulman for first place in the HCAC standings at 8-2. Hanover will face both Transy and Bluffton, who currently sit one game back in the league standings. The Blue and Red's successful start marks the fourth straight year they have produced at least seven wins in their first 10 conference games. Hanover has won at least eight of its first 10 HCAC games for the third straight year, with the previous two seasons resulting in HCAC regular season and tournament championships.
  • Senior Cam Fails (Cincinnati, Ohio) scored 24 points in both wins over Mt. St. Joseph and Franklin last week, giving him 1,559 points for his career. The senior moved into 10th on the all-time scoring list at HC and is now the second leading scorer of the 2000's for HC. Fails' career scoring mark also ranks 22nd nationally among active NCAA Division III players.
  • For the season, Fails, who was named HCAC Player of the Week for the third time this season on Monday, is leading the HCAC and is among the national leaders at 21.4 points per game. The senior is also averaging career highs in rebounds (4.5) and steals (1.8) per contest, while adding 3.6 assists per outing as well.
  • Hanover's recent success can be attributed to its stellar performance on the defensive end. The Panthers have held four straight opponents under 60 points. On the season, HC has conceded under 60 points 10 times, leading to a 61.2 point-per-game average. Hanover's defensive scoring average tops the HCAC and ranks fourth in Division III.
  • Junior Kevin Williams (Edinburgh, Ind.) and sophomore Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) both flirted with double-double performances last week. Williams, who has one double-double this season, tallied games of 12 points, seven rebounds and nine points, nine rebounds against MSJ and FC. The junior also leads the HCAC in season field goal percentage at .718.
  • Hibbard has a team-best two double-doubles this season, as he tallied at least 10 points and six rebounds in both outings last week. The sophomore is second on the team in scoring average, 10.8 points per game, while his rebounding mark of 6.5 per contest paces the Panthers and ranks second in the league.

PANTHERS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: Hanover currently leads the HCAC in 12 team statistical categories. The Panthers are also among the top three in the HCAC in 23 total categories. Click on the photo below to view all of HC's conference and national rankings.

SERIES HISTORY: Hanover and Transylvania are slated to meet for the 69th time on Wednesday, as the all-time series is knotted at 34-all. The Panthers have won five of the last six meetings, including the first contest this season, a 76-70 home triumph. The lone loss in the last six though, came at Transylvania last winter. In the meeting earlier this season, Fails posted 22 points, while Hibbard and junior Blake Robertson (Greenfield, Ind.) added 14 points each.

The Blue and Red will tip off Saturday with a 61-21 edge in the all-time series against Bluffton. The Beavers though, took the first meeting at home, 63-60, as they erased a double-digit second half deficit. The Panthers have enjoyed five straight wins inside Collier Arena, including an 88-78 decision in last year's HCAC Tournament Opening Round.

SCOUTING TRANSYLVANIA: The Pioneers enter the week with a 10-7 overall mark, including a 7-3 record in HCAC play. Transylvania is 4-2 during the month of January. The comforts of the Beck Center have been friendly to TU, as the Pioneers are 7-1 at home, including a 5-0 record against HCAC opponents. Transylvania is averaging 77.4 points per game at home, a four-point uptick from its overall season average. TRANSYLVANIA STATS

SCOUTING BLUFFTON: Bluffton is currently tied with Hanover for the best overall record in the HCAC at 13-4. The Beavers, who are 7-3 in league play, will host Earlham Wednesday before traveling to Hanover this weekend. Bluffton is 4-2 during the month of January, but has struggled on the road, where they hold a 3-3 record this winter. BLUFFTON STATS

UP NEXT: The Panthers continue the second round of conference play by facing Rose-Hulman and Anderson next week. Hanover hosts Rose-Hulman at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 30, before traveling to Anderson for a 4 p.m. tip, Saturday, Feb. 2.

Contact: Tyler Jester

jestert@hanover.edu