Old Dominion players stage a dunking exhibition in warmups for today’s game at UTSA.
The Old Dominion Monarchs walloped the UTSA Roadrunners 100-62 a year ago in Norfolk, Virginia.
It’s still a painful memory for the Roadrunners, who remember that ODU guard B.J. Stith exploded for 28 of his game-high 36 points before halftime.
The Monarchs led by 16 at intermission, broke out to a 29-point lead with 13 minutes remaining and then polished off a 38-point victory when a freshman, Marquis Godwin, hit a three-pointer with a minute remaining.
“That was a bad game for us,” UTSA guard Keaton Wallace said. “I remember that dude got hot on us. (B.J.) Stith ended up getting hot on us, and it was hard for us to come back after that, so we owe them.”
Payback is only part of the motivation today as the Roadrunners host the Monarchs at 3 p.m. at the Convocation Center.
First place in Conference USA is also at stake.
“You know, we didn’t specifically talk to our players about it being for a piece of the lead,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “It’s a big game for a lot of reasons. Our guys respect Old Dominion. They’ve been a terrific program.”
Old Dominion is in first in the C-USA standings at 6-2, followed by UTSA, North Texas, Marshall and UAB, all tied at 5-2.
On Thursday night, the Roadrunners rolled to an 88-43 home victory over the Charlotte 49ers, while the Monarchs won on the road, 50-48, over the UTEP Miners.
Leading by 11 points with nine minutes lef, the Monarchs scrambled to hold off the Miners with two defensive stops in the final minute.
Today, they’ll show up at the Convocation Center with a swagger, led by Stith and Ahmad Caver, not to mention a deep pool of other quality athletes.
“You know, they do a good job,” Henson said Friday afternoon. “They’ve got an identity. They keep guys in their system. They have veteran guys. (They’re a) great defensive team, (with) two superstars.”
That being said, Henson acknowledged that the Roadrunners are feeling good, without too many nagging injuries and are playing with confidence.
“So, it’ll be exciting to see our guys respond,” he said.
This year, the C-USA’s schedule is different.
On Feb. 16, the conference will divide the 14 teams into three groups based on the standings, with teams in each tier, or pod, playing round robin to determine the final seedings for the C-USA tournament.
Wallace said he is keeping an eye on the standings every day.
“I’m trying to get that top five for the top-five pod,” he said, “so we can play for first.”
Old Dominion 6-2, 16-5
North Texas 5-2, 17-3
UAB 5-2, 13-7
Marshall 5-2, 12-8
UTSA 5-2, 11-9
FIU 4-3, 13-7
WKU 4-3, 11-9
LA Tech 4-4, 14-7
Rice 3-4, 8-12
SouthernMiss 3-5, 11-9
FAU 2-5, 11-9
MiddleTenn 2-5, 5-15
Charlotte 2-6, 5-14
UTEP 1-6, 6-12
Old Dominion at UTSA, 3 p.m.
WKU at LA Tech, 4 p.m.
Marshall at Southern Miss, 4 p.m.
Middle Tennessee at North Texas, 5 p.m.
FAU at FIU, 6 p.m.
UAB at Rice, 7 p.m.
Charlotte at UTEP, 8 p.m.