WILMINGTON, North Carolina – The UNCW men’s basketball team shoots for its longest winning streak in the C.B. McGrath era on Thursday when the Seahawks play host to Delaware as the Colonial Athletic Association schedule heats up.
The two clubs collide at 7 p.m. in UNCW’s seventh home game of the campaign. It’s Military Appreciation Night at Trask Coliseum, with numerous military members from the surrounding communities attending the game.
This year’s game will feature Active Duty Marines from Marine Corps Installations East Camp Lejeune, representatives from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, JROTC cadets from Laney High School, UNCW faculty, Staff and Students who are military affiliated and a host of veterans from several community organizations.
Military VIP’s planning to attend include Lt General Walter E. Gaskin, USMC (Ret), Hew Wolfe, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, and Vice Admiral Dennis Jones, US Navy (Ret).
The Seahawks improved to 6-10 overall and 2-1 in the league by sweeping a pair of road games last week at James Madison and Towson. The Blue Hens have won three in a row and sit just one game out of first place in the CAA with an 11-6 record in all games and 3-1 mark in conference play.
The improving Seahawks registered a thrilling 86-83 double overtime victory at JMU last Thursday in a game that saw McGrath’s club storm back from late deficits in regulation and both overtime periods. UNCW followed that up with a hard-earned 67-61 decision at Towson two days later.
“It’s always important to get road wins, especially at the start of the conference season,” said McGrath. “It will give us confidence and momentum going into this weekend. We made the plays that we had to down the stretch in both games. Our guys stepped up and made the plays…we were focused last week.”
“Delaware is off to a great start in the conference. They’re playing well together and present a lot of problems. We’ll have to be ready, active on the defensive end, and contest everything on the outside.”
Thursday’s game features two of the CAA’s premier big men in seniors Devontae Cacok of UNCW and Eric Carter of Delaware.
Cacok ranks fifth in the NCAA in rebounds per game (11.6) and tops the Seahawks in scoring (14.6 ppg) and board work. With 1,043 rebounds, he’s closing in on Keith Rendleman’s career record of 1,055 caroms set from 2010-13. Cacok paces the CAA in rebounding and stands 14th in scoring.
Carter, meanwhile, is also a load for defenses. He is fifth in CAA in scoring (17.8 ppg) and second in rebounding (10.3 rpg), with nine double-doubles. He averaged 10.5 points and 7.5 rebounds to help the Blue Hens sweep the regular season series with the Seahawks one year ago.
The contest will also showcase two of the league’s best newcomers as UNCW’s Kai Toews and UD’s Ithiel Horton display their talents.
Toews, a rookie from Toyko, Japan, set UNCW’s freshman assist record last week and already has 126 helpers midway through the season. He was named CAA Rookie-of-the-Week for the second time early Monday after averaging 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 10.5 assists in UNCW’s road sweep.
“He’s a true point guard and really feeds off getting his teammates shots,” McGrath said of the heady playmaker. “You always worry about depending so much on a freshman. He has a great basketball IQ. He’s been playing basketball a long time. He’s been involved in a lot of games and understands the game.”
Horton, named Rookie-of-the-Week following the first week of the season, is averaging 13.1 ppg, ranking him 19th in the circuit in scoring. He’s the top freshman scorer in the CAA.
Live Seahawk Digital Network (SDN) coverage of the UNCW-UD contest starts at 6:45 p.m. with Mike Vaccaro, the “Voice of the Seahawks,” and color analyst Marty Feurer on the call. Visit UNCWsports.com/SDN for live audio coverage.
A radio broadcast of the game may be heard on 95.9 FM “The Breeze” | WKXB HD 2 – 95.9 FM and 99.9 HD2 and live stats are available at UNCWStats.com.
THE SERIES: UNCW holds a 22-13 lead in the 35-game series with the Blue Hens. The Seahawks have claimed six of the last 10 games between the two clubs and stand 11-4 against UD at Trask Coliseum.
WHAT’S LEFT: The Seahawks have 15 games remaining in the 2018-19 regular season – eight at Trask Coliseum and seven on the road. UNCW plays six of its next eight games in the Port City.
DEFENSIVE WALL: Delaware features the CAA’s best defense, holding opponents to 42.7 percent shooting and 38.6 percent beyond the arc.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH: Senior forward Devontae Cacok (14.6 ppg) leads six Seahawks collecting at least eight points per game for the Seahawks.
NEXT UP: Following Thursday’s clash with the Blue Hens, the Seahawks close out their CAA week by entertaining Drexel on Saturday in a 2 p.m. tip at Trask Coliseum.
EVERYTHING SEAHAWKS: For more information on the UNCW men’s basketball team, visit UNCWsports.com and click on the men’s basketball button. Additional information is also available on UNCW’s social media channels: Facebook (UNCW Men’s Basketball), Twitter (@UNCWmenshoops), Instagram (UNCWBasketball).