CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo ENMU junior forward Aaron Edwards goes up to the basket in traffic to score two points during Saturday’s regular-season finale against West Texas A&M at Greyhound Arena.
On paper, the Eastern New Mexico University men couldn’t have gotten a tougher draw.
Second-year ENMU coach Andrew Helton isn’t complaining, though.
The Greyhounds (13-13), the fourth seed from the Lone Star Conference South Division, face North champion Central Oklahoma (25-3) in a 1:30 p.m. quarterfinal matchup today at Bartlesville, Okla.
“It’s the draw we’ve earned,” Helton said. “Obviously, if we’d won the last game, the draw would’ve been different.”
ENMU won four in a row — including three on the road — to put itself in position for a tournament berth, then lost to rival West Texas A&M 74-54 on Saturday night.
Central Oklahoma, one of five Oklahoma schools leaving the conference after this year, has won four consecutive North titles. The Bronchos, ranked seventh in NCAA Division II, beat the Hounds 103-85 on Dec. 20 at Greyhound Arena.
ENMU is the No. 3 scoring team in the LSC (77.7 ppg), but ranks last in points allowed. UCO leads the conference in scoring at 81.6 ppg.
“It’ll probably be up-and-down,” Helton said of the likely style of play. “We like to run, but they probably push it more than we do.
“I think we’ve got to guard them a little better this time. That’s the biggest concern we have right now.”
How the Hounds shoot the ball, particularly from long range, is also a big key.
“We’re a team that needs to shoot the ball well,” Helton said. “A lot of our offense comes from our ability to make shots.”
The Bronchos’ top player is senior guard Dauntae Williams, who scored 33 points and dished out seven assists in the first game against ENMU.
“He’s one of the best players in the country in Division II,” Helton said.
Helton said the Hounds were able to get their legs back a bit after finishing the regular season with five games in 11 days.
ENMU (13-13) vs. Central Oklahoma (25-3)
When: 1:30 p.m. (MST) today at Bruin Fieldhouse, Bartlesville, Okla., in a Lone Star Conference tournament quarterfinal.
Radio: KSEL-FM 93.5
Last time out: The Greyhounds lost at home to West Texas A&M 74-54 on Saturday, while the Bronchos defeated Cameron 78-68 at Lawton, Okla.
Last meeting: UCO posted a season scoring high in a 103-85 victory over ENMU at Greyhound Arena on Dec. 20.
Of note: The Bronchos, one of five Oklahoma schools leaving the conference after this year, have won four consecutive North titles. Their win total this season is the second-best in school history. … UCO’s Dauntae Williams, a 6-foot-4 senior G, leads the LSC in scoring (21.3 ppg). He also shoots 50 percent from the field, averages 6.4 rebounds and has team highs of 102 assists and 65 steals for the season … Williams, from Missouri City, Texas, is the only non-Oklahoman on the 15-player roster. … Three other Bronchos are averaging in double figures for the season — 6-4 junior G Shane Carroll at 11.1 ppg, and 6-5 junior G Tyler Phillips and 6-2 junior G Brent Friday, both at 10.4. … ENMU also has four players scoring in double figures — junior G Stefan Mirabal (14.2 ppg), junior Fs Max Carrier (13.0) and Aaron Edwards (10.8) and senior F Tyler Jefferson (10.5). … Central Oklahoma is 14-0 at home and 4-0 on neutral courts. … The Bronchos have 465 assists for the season against 372 turnovers. … UCO has made at least one 3-pointer in 700 consecutive games, and in all but one of 721 games since the rule came into effect in 1986. … West Texas A&M, seeded fourth, edged the Bronchos 80-79 in last year’s tournament quarterfinals. … UCO is virtually a lock to make the NCAA Division II tournament, at least as an at-large, for the seventh time in coach Terry Evans’ nine seasons.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner