BLUE DRAGON MEN'S BASKETBALL
No. 11 Hutchinson (28-6) vs. No. 22 Cape Fear (21-11)
When: Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Where: Hutchinson Sports Arena
Game Time: 12:00 p.m. (CT)
Live Radio: KHUT-FM (102.9), 11:50 a.m.
Live Stats: Click for link (available at tipoff)
Hutchinson CC Sports Information
In order for the Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team to become the first repeat national champion since Southeastern Iowa in 2003 and 2004, the Blue Dragons are going to have to win games in five-straight days to match the 2017 NJCAA championship.
That quest starts Tuesday as the No. 11-seeded Blue Dragons will take on No. 22 seed Cape Fear at noon in the final opening-round contest of the 2018 NJCAA Tournament at the Sports Arena.
The game will be broadcast live on Blue Dragon flagship station KHUT-FM (102.9) at 11:50 a.m. with Glen Grunwald (play-by-play) and Rusty Hilst (analysis) calling the action. NJCAATV.com will provide video services as a pay-per-view package.
The Blue Dragons were one of the eight at-large teams to qualify for the tournament field of 24. Hutchinson lost 82-80 to Coffeyville in the Region VI Tournament championship game on March 7 in Park City. Cape Field defeated USC-Salkehatchie 76-65 in overtime in the Region X Tournament championship. The Hutchinson/Cape Fear winner will play No. 6 seed Florida Southwestern in the second round on Wednesday.
Hutchinson head coach Steve Eck will also be going after a piece of Blue Dragon history on Tuesday. With a victory, Eck will surpass Charles Sesher as the program's winningest head coach. Both are tied with 259 victories. It took Sesher 24 years to amass his 259 wins. This is Eck's ninth season with the Blue Dragons.
The Blue Dragons make their 21st appearance in the NJCAA Tournament. Hutchinson is making its fourth-consecutive appearance in the NJCAA Tournament. The only other time the Blue Dragons went to three national tournaments in a row was in 1971, 1972 and 1973 under head coach Gene Keady.
The Blue Dragons are 48-24 all-time in NJCAA Tournament games. Hutch has advanced to the national semifinals 10 times and played in six championship games, winning in 1988, 1994 and 2017. The Blue Dragons play in the opening round of the NJCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. The Blue Dragons had opening-round byes in the last four tournament appearances in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The Sea Devils (21-11) will be making their fifth national tournament appearance. Their best finish was eighth place in 2011 in the old 16-team format.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Hutchinson and Cape Fear.
The Blue Dragons average 85.7 points per game, shooting 47.3 percent overall and 36.3 percent from 3-point range. Defensively, the Dragons allow 71.0 points per game while opponents shoot 37.7 percent overall and 29.9 percent from 3-point range.
Sophomore guard J.J. Rhymes led the Jayhawk Conference in scoring at 19.9 points per game. Devonte Bandoo averages 16.5 points per game. Both belong to the Blue Dragon career 1,000-point club. Freshman James Rojas averages 10.6 points per game while shooting 52.0 percent. Sophomore Kai Mitchell averages a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game, Rhymes averages a team-high 3.1 rebounds per game, Rob Whitfield leads in steals at 1.2 per game and Sal Nuhu averages 1.6 blocks per game to lead the Dragons.
Cape Fear averages 83.9 points per game shooting 44.9 percent overall and 35.4 percent from 3-point range. The Sea Devils average nearly 10 made 3s per game. Defensively, Cape Fear allows 65.5 points per game. Opponents shoot 40.4 percent overall and 33.3 percent from 3-point range.
Four different players average in double figures for the Sea Devils led by Zaqwaun Matthews' 14.2 points per game.