James Madison will look to pull within a game of first place in the CAA Wednesday evening when the second-place Dukes take on first-place Northeastern in Boston at 7 p.m. with television coverage on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and New England.
***MEDIA UPDATE - 2/20/13 5 p.m.*** The full television coverage will be Comcast SportsNet (MidAtlantic and New England) and The Comcast Network (Philadelphia). The GoNU.com video stream will be unavailable to fans who reside within those TV markets but will be available for on-demand viewing at the conclusion of the game. Fans can also listen live on MadiZONE, follow live stats linked to this article or follow @JMUSports on Twitter.***
The Dukes (16-12, 10-5 CAA) will carry momentum into Matthews Arena, where they have not played since 2010, after freshman guard Andre Nation's game-winning dunk at Delaware vaulted JMU into a second-place tie with Towson in the conference standings. Northeastern (17-10, 12-3) is still in first place in the Colonial Athletic Association, but has seen its lead slip to two games after losses to Delaware and UNCW.
Nation, who won his third CAA Rookie of the Week honor on Monday, averages 8.9 points per contest, just outside the conference's top 30 individual scorers. He ranks seventh in the conference with 1.6 takeaways per game and needs four steals to match the JMU freshman record of 46.
Nation is one reason why the Dukes lead the CAA in turnover margin at +2.39. Another reason is redshirt senior guard Devon Moore, whose 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is second only to George Mason's Byron Allen in the CAA.
Moore averages 11.3 points per contest for the season, but he's just under 17 per game over JMU's last five games. He recorded 19 points, four rebounds, and six assists in Sunday's game at Delaware, including the lob leading to Nation's game-winning slam. That left him five assists shy of tying Pierre Curtis' program record of 463.
Redshirt senior guard A.J. Davis has been particularly hot of late, scoring 16, 17 and 27 in three of his last four outings. Over that period, Davis has averaged 7.3 more minutes on the court and 6.4 more points per game more than his season averages. He also shot 50 percent (15-of-30) from behind the arc.
Northeastern, which owns the league's best scoring offense, is led by an unselfish backcourt that scores as easily as they pass. Senior guards Joel Smith and Jonathan Lee together average 30.1 points and 7.1 assists per game, though Smith has been slowed by an injury during the last week. Sophomore combination guard-forward Quincy Ford is as versatile as any player in the CAA, ranking among the top 15 players in the conference for both scoring and rebounding.
Under Matt Brady, JMU is 1-3 against Northeastern. The lone win was a 75-69 home victory on January 3, 2011. The Huskies lead the all-time series 10-3.