Panthers return home to face Franklin Saturday

Levi Buck

FULL NOTES IN PDF

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover men's basketball team will look to improve upon its season-long four-game winning streak and keep pace at the top of the HCAC standings with a weekend contest against Franklin.

The Panthers (1204, 7-2 HCAC) and Grizzlies will conclude their regular season series at 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan.20, inside Collier Arena.

COVERAGE:  LIVE STATS  |  VIDEO       

THE TEAMS: Since dropping a two-point decision to Rose-Hulman back on Jan. 3, Hanover has won four straight, with three of the victories coming on the road. The Blue and Red's current wave of success on the court has the team tied for the best overall record in the conference and just one game back from Mt. St. Joseph for first place in the HCAC standings.

The Panthers, who are currently receiving votes in the D3hoops.com National Top 25 poll, have been ranked as high as No. 4 this year, which came in the preseason edition. The team, which as of Monday has at least received national votes for 14 straight polls, also spent additional week in the top five earlier this season. 

Hanover is starting to find a rhythm both offensively and defensively, as they rank inside the top 20 in the country in multiple statistical categories. After shooting over 60 percent last time out, HC is now 18th in the NCAA for season field goal percentage, .496. Defensively, the Blue and Red have allowed fewer than 50 points on three occasions, as their scoring defense average of 64.3 is 16th best in the nation.

Franklin (4-12, 3-6 HCAC) enters Saturday having dropped three of its last four overall, including an 84-69 decision to Transylvania this past Wednesday. Despite six losses in conference play, FC has been in every game, dropping five outings by seven points or less.

The Grizzlies are the top rebounding and shot blocking team in the HCAC, averaging 37.9 rebounds and 4.8 rejections per game. Offensively, the Grizzlies are tallying 73.7 points per game, but are getting close to three points less in road contest, 70.9.

THE SERIES: Despite winning eight of the last 10 meetings, Hanover still trails in the all-time series, 87-77. Since 2010, the Panthers have won seven of eight home games, including each of the last four meetings inside Collier Arena. The two sides met back on Dec. 2 at Franklin, with Hanover rallying in the second half to secure a 75-68 victory.

LAST TIME OUT: Senior Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind.) broke the program's all-time three-point field goals record and the Panthers shot over 60 percent from the field en route to a 64-41 win at Mt. St. Joseph. McKinney made 5-of-6 attempts from deep, giving him 218 three-pointers in his career and a team high 17 points Wednesday evening.

After recording just three first half points, the senior scored 12 straight for Hanover to open the second half, ultimately shutting the door on the Lions. Juniors Cam Fails (Mason, Ohio) and Nick White (New Albany, Ind.) did most of their damage in the first 20 minutes of play, combining for 25 of HC's 39 points. The two finished with 16 and 13 points respectively.

To go along with HC's hot shooting, the team produced its best defensive effort of the season, conceding season lows in points (41) and field goal percentage (.304).

UP NEXT: Hanover will conclude a brief two-game home stint by welcoming Transylvania for a 7:30 p.m. tip Wednesday, Jan. 24. The Panthers and Pioneers met back in December, with Transy recording its first victory in the past four meetings.

Contact: Tyler Jester                                                                                   

jestert@hanover.edu