Hanover men set for mid-week showdown with Earlham

Colin Smith

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HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover men's basketball team will look to win back-to-back HCAC games for the second time this season and keep pace atop the HCAC standings with a meeting against Earlham this week.

The Panthers (9-4, 4-2 HCAC) will welcome the Quakers for a 7:30 p.m. start Wednesday, Jan. 10.

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THE TEAMS: The Blue and Red are off to another strong start this season, as they posted eight wins prior to January for the second straight year. Since the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign, HC is 17-4 overall and 7-1 in HCAC contests during the opening two months of the season.

Hanover, who is currently receiving votes in the D3hoops.com National Top 25 poll, has been ranked as high as No. 4 this year, which came in the preseason edition. The team, which has at least received national votes for 13 straight polls, also spent additional week in the top five earlier this season.

The Panthers are averaging 77.0 points per game, but defense has been the story of late, as HC has held five of its last six opponents to under 70 points, including three teams to under 55 points during the stretch. Overall, the Blue and Red are allowing 66.1 points per game, which is among the top 30 in the country.

Earlham (3-10, 1-5 HCAC) has dropped five straight overall and each of its last three HCAC games entering Wednesday night. The Quakers are also just 1-5 in away games this season.

One bright spot for Earlham has been its offense, as they have four players currently averaging 10 or more points per game, including senior Elijah Wilson-Thomas (17.8). Overall, EC is scoring 80.5 points per outing.

THE SERIES: Winners of 10 straight, the Panthers lead the overall series with Earlham, 79-40. Since 2010, HC is 6-1 at home versus EC, including a 66-53 decision last February. Head coach Jon Miller is 13-1 when facing the Quakers, while Jason Polykoff is 0-6 against HC at Earlham. A pair of wins this season would tie Hanover's longest winning streak all-time against Earlham, 12, which was set from 1976-1982.

LAST TIME OUT: A balanced offensive attack, led by four players in double figures led HC to a 77-69 victory at Manchester last Saturday. The Panthers made 26-of-52 field goals in the win, shooting at least 50 percent for the seventh times this season and for the third time in the last five outings.

Leading the offensive charge was junior Cam Fails (Mason, Ohio), who tallied 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and a 7-of-9 performance at the charity stripe. Fails posted two steals as well, giving him multiple swipes in each of the last five outings.

Senior Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind.), junior Nick White (New Albany, Ind.) and freshman Isaac Hibbard (New Albany, Ind.) each made five field goals and tallied double-digit point totals.

UP NEXT: Hanover will return to the road to face Anderson at 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 13. The Panthers defeated the Ravens twice last season, including a 74-65 triumph on the road last year.

Contact: Tyler Jester

jestert@hanover.edu