When the AU men’s basketball team hosts Bucknell University Feb. 23 at 7 p.m., there’s going to be a lot on the line.
Not only would the Eagles (18-9, 9-3 PL) be tied for first place with the conference-leading Bison (20-8, 10-2 PL), but they’ll also continue to peak at the right time in the season.
“Obviously, it’s a big game,” AU Head Coach Jeff Jones said. “There’s a lot at stake. It’s not going to be easy, [but] our guys are playing really hard and they’re motivated.”
AU will be attempting to avenge its 67-61 loss from Jan. 25 in Lewisburg, Pa., and one difference between the two contests could be the matchup between AU’s Tony Wroblicky and Bucknell’s Mike Muscala. Muscala is the reigning Patriot League Player of the Year and fourth in the conference in scoring.
But Wroblicky has come on strong, recording two double-doubles (the first two of his career) in the past four games.
Included in that stretch was a dominating 18-point, 17-rebound performance in AU’s 71-62 victory over Lehigh Feb. 9.
Last time against Bucknell, AU’s sophomore center played just 22 minutes after getting in foul trouble. He’ll be a key for the Eagles come Thursday.
“[Tony] has been playing really well as of late,” Charles Hinkle said. “If he can score as well as stay out of foul trouble, that will definitely help us out.”
Hinkle will also be important for AU, as he’s the team’s biggest scoring threat (second in the PL at 19.1 points per game), as well as a help down low. Hinkle’s 5.5 rebounds per game ranks sixth in the conference.
In the Eagles’ previous matchup against the Bison, Hinkle shot just 4-11 from the field and recorded 12 points, one of his lowest scoring outputs of the season.
Daniel Munoz is another player who’s been coming on as of late for AU, as the junior floor general registered a career-high 10 assists in the Eagles’ last game.
He has turned the ball over just five times in the last three games and is first in the conference in assists per game (4.2).
“Danny is playing really good for us,” Hinkle said. “He’s sound with the ball, he doesn’t really turn it over and he makes great decisions. He really tries to find his teammates in the right spot, and he makes his teammates better.”
Even though you can’t always count on a player to be consistent and meet his averages, one thing you can count on is that AU will play well at home. Playing at Bender is something the team definitely looks at as an advantage, as the Eagles are 11-0 at home this season.
“We like playing here,” Jones said. “We play well here, and anytime you don’t have to get in the bus to travel, I’ll take it. We’re happy to be playing at home, and, although it doesn’t guarantee us anything, we’re glad to be playing in front of the home crowd. Hopefully, it’s a big one.”
Thursday’s game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.