After defeating Mount Union in a 97-90 shootout Wednesday, the Marietta College men's basketball team has its sights set on John Carroll.
Marietta (10-4, 6-1) will be hosting the Blue Streaks (6-7, 3-4) this Saturday at Ban Johnson Arena.
With the Pioneers and the Blue Streaks each being near the top of the OAC the past few years, the two teams have developed a competitive rivalry.
MICHAEL UHL Special to The Times
Marietta College’s J.J. Martin, right, and Mount Union’s Matt Kiger (45) position themselves for a rebound during OAC men’s basketball action at Ban Johnson Arena Wednesday night. MC won.
After beating JC three times two seasons ago, Marietta dropped both contests to the Blue Streaks a year ago.
"When we started building our program, the premier team in the league was John Carroll," said MC head coach Jon VanderWal. "We felt like we were trying to catch them and Capital. Our guys don't look at John Carroll's record, they look at it as a big rivalry. It's going to be a good college basketball game."
John Carroll and Marietta are No. 1 and 2 in the league in scoring, respectively. The Blue Streaks have averaged 82 points per game compared to 79.1 for the Pios. The difference between the two teams has been on the defensive side, as Marietta is giving just 69.3 (3rd in OAC) points per game while John Carroll is allowing 80.1 (9th).
VanderWal said it is important for Marietta not play into John Carroll's type of basketball.
"They're going to press the whole game. They're an up-tempo team," VanderWal said. "If we play their style of basketball, we're going to be in trouble.
"It's a fine line, because we're an up-tempo team as well. We play two different styles of up-tempo, though. We just have to get quality shots and take care of the basketball so they don't fastbreaks. Our shot selection has to be good."
Marietta is led by senior J.J. Martin, who is coming off a 33 point game against Mount Union. Martin is averaging team-highs with 16.5 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game. Sophomore Brennan McKean and junior Tyler Hammond are averaging 8.9 and 8.4 points per game, respectively. Senior Tyler Worstell leads the team with 37 assists on the season.
John Carroll is led by Kyle Hubbard's 16.6 points per game. Danny Wallack has also contributed well with 9.9 points per game. Kenny Janz is the team's top rebounder with 6.2 a game.
A win would be huge in the standings for Marietta, who is currently a game behind Capital for first place in the OAC. It would also help build momentum for the rest of the season.
"This is a big time game that we really need to get," VanderWal said. "It would be nice to be coming off a win going to Capital next (Wednesday)."
Marietta is expected to start Martin and senior Jason Humphrey in the post, Hammond at point guard and senior Scott Kimmey at wing. The other wing position will be determined based on matchups. Tip-off is slated for 3 p.m.
The Lady Pioneers are coming off a tough loss to No. 20 Mount Union Wednesday and will look to rebound on the road against John Carroll Saturday.
Marietta has a 6-8 overall record but has struggled in conference play at 1-6. John Carroll hasn't fared much better at 2-5 in the OAC. A win for either team would put them back into the thick of things.
Marietta is scoring 58.3 points per game while allowing 63.8. On the flip side, John Carroll is getting 65.9 per game offensively and allowing 65.3.
Marietta is led by sophomore Heather Booth's 10.4 points per contest. Fellow sophomore Candice Alexander is close behind with 9.9. Alexander is also tops in rebounding on the team with 6.4 a game. John Carroll's leading scorer is Melissa Spahar with 14.4 points per game.
Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.