TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Richmond Spiders (20-12) will travel to Alabama (19-14) as a six seed in the 2017 NIT. UR will open postseason play on Tuesday night at 9:15 ET on ESPN2.
The Spiders make their ninth appearance in the NIT and the second in three seasons. The Spiders are 8-8 all-time in the NIT and advanced to the quarterfinals in 2002 and 2015. Richmond has played in the postseason seven times in the last 10 seasons, winning seven total games. The Spiders advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2011.
UR will play Alabama for the fourth time all-time and the first time since 1988. Alabama is 3-0 all-time against the Spiders.
Richmond has won 20 games against power conference teams during Coach Mooney's tenure, including a victory over Boston College earlier this season.
The game will air on ESPN2 with Dave Neal and Dalen Cuff on the call. Fans can watch online through the Watch ESPN app.
The game will also be on the radio on ESPN 950 AM, 107.3 BBT and RichmondSpiders.com.will call the action over the radio airwaves.
|2016-17 SPIDER MEN'S BASKETBALL GAMEDAY CENTRAL - ALABAMA
|Who||Richmond Spiders (20-12) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (19-14)|
|When||Tuesday, March 14, 9:15 PM ET|
|Venue||Coleman Coliseum (15,316)|
|TV||ESPN2 | Watch ESPN|
|On Air||Dave Neal, Dalen Cuff
|Live Stats||Click Here|
Alabama enters the NIT as a three seed after falling in the SEC Tournament to Kentucky. The Crimson Tide have wins over NCAA teams South Carolina and Vanderbilt and finished sixth in the SEC standings. Alabama averages 68.7 points per game, but holds teams to just 64.5 points. The Crimson Tide sports all five starters taller than 6-5 and average 39.2 rebounds per game.
Series vs. Alabama
Richmond is 0-3 against Alabama all-time. The teams last met back in 1988 when Alabama won 54-49 in the Robins Center. Prior to that, Alabama won games in 1964 and 1962.
Richmond In The NIT
Richmond is making its ninth trip to the NIT and second in three seasons. UR is 8-8 all-time in the tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2002 and 2015. The Spiders have picked up a number of NIT victories over power-conference teams including Arizona State, Minnesota and West Virginia.
Small But Mighty
Richmond uses a lineup with four of five starters standing at 6-4 or shorter. The Spiders' first player off the bench is 6-3 Julius Johnson. However, 6-0 Khwan Fore led the Spiders in rebounds in the A-10 tournament and 6-4 Nick Sherod was second. UR's defense forces 14.2 turnovers per game and the Spiders are 32nd in the country in turnover margin.
Richmond senior T.J. Cline was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and freshman De'Monte Buckingham was tabbed Rookie of the Year. Along with Cline on the First Team and Buckingham on the Rookie team, ShawnDre' Jones was named All-A-10 Third Team.
Richmond became the first team since 1988, and just the third team in A-10 history, to boast both the Player and Rookie of the Year on the same team.
With Cline on the First Team, the Spiders have now had five First Team honorees since 2010, more than any other A-10 program over that stretch.
After coming close on three occasions, T.J. Cline finally broke through for the first-ever triple-double in school history against Duquesne. He scored 34 points with 12 rebounds and 11 assists. It marked just the sixth time that any NCAA DI player has reached 30 points in a triple-double in the last 20 years. Of those six players, Cline was the only one to do it in regulation.
On Senior Day, Cline broke through again, tallying 19 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. He is one of just two players with two triple-doubles in the NCAA this year.
Cline has more assists than any player in the country his height or taller and ranks 10th in the nation with an assist rate of 38.7. His 182 assists on the season rank 3rd all-time at Richmond as he now trails Greg Beckwith's school by 18 dimes.
Cline is putting together one of the best seasons in recent memory in rebounding as Charles Stephens (1997-98) was the last Spider to average over eight rebounds a game for an entire season (8.3).
Cline has tallied 11 double-doubles this season, more than any other Spider since 1987-88 when Peter Woolfolk tallied 13.
Batman and Robin
Cline's partner in crime the past three years has been fellow senior ShawnDre' Jones. Jones also scored 30 points in UR's win over Duquesne, the first time a pair of Spiders have each scored 30 in a game in Mooney's tenure. Jones then followed it up with a gutsy 30-point effort at VCU. He is tied for second in the A-10 with three 30-point games this year.
Jones is averaging 16.8 points per game and 4.0 assists per game, ranking top 10 in the league in both categories. His assist-turnover ratio of 2.0 ranks eighth in the league.
Jones and Cline are the third-highest scoring duo in the Atlantic 10. Jones became the first player in Richmond history to top 1,400 points, 300 assists and 200 three-pointers made.
Jones earned his first All-Conference honor this year after winning Atlantic 10 Sixth Man of the Year accolades in 2015. He was named All-A-10 Third Team this year.
Buck Stops Here
The Atlantic 10's Rookie of the Year, De'Monte Buckingham has been outstanding since entering the starting lineup at JMU (12/20).
He tallied the most rebounds (183) of any Spider freshman since Charles Stephens in 1998.
Buckingham averaged 11.9 points per game in conference play, and also nabbed 30 steals, ranking fourth in the league and first among freshmen. He exploded for a career-high 26 points in Richmond's A-10 semifinal loss to VCU.
Although quiet off the court, Khwan Fore can make a big statement on it. His rim-rattling dunks can be momentum shifters when coming from a 6-0 guard. He had three such dunks in the second half at Dayton and two against Davidson. He is Richmond's most athletic player pound-for-pound with a 45-inch vertical.
He exploded for a career-high 24 points against George Washington, scoring on dribble drives and pull-up jumpers at the elbow. He then dished a career-high 12 assists at Fordham, the most by any Spider since 1996. In the A-10 quarterfinals, Fore scored 14 points and had the game-winning steal and layin as the clock expired.
In A-10 play, Fore averaged 11.1 points with 4.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He ranks eighth in the league with 1.6 steals per game.
While Richmond runs a "Princeton-style" offense, the Spiders are far from slow and boring. Richmond ranks in the top 75 in the nation in pace of play and UR averaged 75.7 ppg in conference play, good for second in the league. Richmond also shot 48.4 percent from the field in A-10 play, leading the league.
Defending The Line
Richmond has done a fantastic job defending the three-point line this season. It's even more impressive considering the improvement from last year. Last season, Richmond ranked 267th in three-point defense. This year, the Spiders rank 35th in the nation by holding opponents to just 31.5 percent from long range.
The Spiders have always run an offense with constant motion and crisp passes that lead to shots in rhythm. Richmond is at its best when every player on the court is setting up someone else for a shot.
The Spiders lead the league in assists (16.9) and assist-turnover ratio (1.5). Richmond has dished more or same assists than the opponent in 26 of the season's 32 games. In Atlantic 10 play, the Spiders averaged 18.1 assists per game.
UR ranks sixth in the country in assist-to-FG percentage of 63.7. The Spiders led the league in assist-turnover ratio last year and ranked second the year before.
In Richmond's first four A-10 road wins, the Spiders have built leads of 18, 21, 18 and 15 points in the second half. In each instance, the home team has made it a one-possession game in the final 10 minutes. However, Richmond has been able to make winning plays in each instance down the stretch.
The Spiders are 19-1 when holding a lead with five minutes remaining and 16-2 when leading or tied at the half. UR has overcome double-digit deficits in three of the teams' wins, and only given up a double-digit lead in a loss once to then-ranked Maryland.
Richmond tallied eight Atlantic 10 Weekly awards with Cline (4) and Jones (1) winning Player of the Weeks and Buckingham (3) winning Rookie of the Week awards.
Cline was tabbed by the USBWA as the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week after his triple-double. It marked the first national player of the week honor for any Spider.
Cline was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and an All-Atlantic 10 First Team honoree. Buckingham was Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week and an All-Atlantic 10 Rookie Team honoree. Jones earned a spot on the All-Atlantic 10 Third Team.
Climbing The Record Books
ShawnDre' Jones and T.J. Cline continue to climb Richmond's all-time record book.
Cline has now scored 1,574 career points at Richmond, with Jones right behind him at 1,560. Adding his points from his freshman year at Niagara, Cline has totaled 1,836 career points.
Jones moved into fifth place all-time with 221 career three-pointers. Jones now also has 355 assists for his career, ranking eighth all-time.
Cline is now eighth all-time in field goals made and seventh in assists. He is third all-time for assists in a single season, just 18 away from the school record.
With Jones and Cline continually moving up, seven of the top 14 scorers all-time have graduated since 2010.