OREM — After opening the season with a 74-66 win on Friday over IUPUI, Utah Valley University enters on a three-game stretch against teams that notched NCAA Tournament wins a season ago, including games in back-to-back days against North Carolina A&T and eighth-ranked Oklahoma State.
The Wolverines host North Carolina A&T, the 2013 MEAC Tournament Champions, on Monday at 7:05 p.m MT, and travel to Stillwater to face the Cowboys on Tuesday at 6 p.m. MT. UVU (1-0) wraps the three-game stint at No. 19 Oregon next Tuesday in Eugene.
In the win over IUPUI, four players reached double figures led by Holton Hunsaker’s 18 points. Zach Nelson added 13 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double in his first college game. UVU hit 25-of-28 attempts from the free-throw line in the win.
North Carolina A&T won its opener over Greensboro College, 91-64, behind 30 points from Richaud Pack and 27 from Lamont Middleton. Middleton led the Aggies in scoring last season with 12.4 per game and headlines a roster that has 10 newcomers. Pack, in his first season on the court at A&T, transferred from Florida International and was on the team that split two games with Utah Valley during the 2009-10 season.
"Coach Alexander is one of the most respected in the business and he will have his team well prepared," UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said.
Alexander's track record is among the best in MEAC history after serving as the longtime coach at South Carolina State. Alexander-led clubs have won six MEAC tournament titles.
The Wolverines hold a 1-0 lead in the all-time series after a 64-55 win last year in Greensboro, N.C. UVU is 3-3 all-time against teams from the MEAC.
Oklahoma State will be the highest-ranked opponent Utah Valley has ever faced, now in its 11th season of NCAA Division I basketball. The Wolverines have played two other ranked opponents in program NCAA history — No. 10 Marquette (Jan. 2, 2012) and No. 18 Minnesota (Nov. 19, 2009).
The Cowboys, who are eighth in the AP and 12th in the ESPN Coaches Poll, are expected to challenge Kansas’ run at nine straight Big XII titles. It will be the second time that UVU will face a team from the Big XII and the first time since playing at Nebraska on Feb. 1, 2005. The Wolverines lost that game, 91-57, and were led by 26 points from current Orlando Magic guard Ronnie Price.
Marcus Smart leads a roster that handled Mississippi Valley State, 117-62, on Friday night. Smart is a consensus first-team All-American and the pick for national player of the year by USA Today, the USBWA and Blue Ribbon.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.