Blue Dragons look to avenge loss

GAME 24 - No. 12 Hutchinson (20-3, 6-1) vs. Seward County (16-8, 6-2)
Date: Saturday, February 8, 2014
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m.
Site: Hutchinson Sports Arena, Hutchinson, KS (Capacity: 7,000)
Radio: KHUT-FM (102.9); KWBW-AM/FM (1450/98.5) - Glen Grunwald (PBP); Rusty Hilst (Analysis), 7:20 p.m.
Internet Video, Live Stats:, 7:20 p.m.
Twitter: @bluedragonsport
Tickets: Reserved - $7; Gen. Ad. - $5
Back on January 18 in Liberal, the Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team suffered through a 22-point loss to Seward County in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated.
As the Blue Dragons begin the second half of the 2014 Jayhawk West championship race on Saturday, they hope to turn things around in their second meeting of the season with the three-time defending league champion Saints.
Game time at the Sports Arena is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be videostreamed live by the Blue Dragon Sports Network and broadcast live on Blue Dragon flagship station KHUT-FM (102.9) and on sister stations KWBW-AM/FM (1450/98.5) beginning at 7:20 p.m.
Since that first meeting in Liberal, the now No. 12-ranked Blue Dragons (20-3, 6-1 Jayhawk West) have reeled off four-straight victories despite a myriad of injuries.
Seward County (16-8, 6-2), which had solo possession of first place after defeating Hutchinson, has gone just 3-2 since and HCC has overtaken the Saints for the top spot in the league.
Hutchinson received an unexpected day off this past Wednesday as the winter storm caused the game at Garden City to be postponed until Monday. The last time out, the Blue Dragons shot a sizzling 66.7 percent from the field in a 106-77 victory over Dodge City last Saturday at the Sports Arena.
Seward County was able to play its regularly scheduled game on Wednesday, defeating Colby 78-64 at Liberal.
Back on Jan. 18, the Saints were firing on all cylinders, building a 50-34 lead at halftime. Seward County shot 56.5 percent from the field while holding HCC to a season-low 36.8 percent from the field.
Saturday starts a stretch of four games in seven days for HCC.
About the 2013-14 Blue Dragons
+ The Blue Dragons are now No. 1 in the Jayhawk West in scoring average at 90.6 points per game. HCC has scored 80 or more points in 18 of 23 games and have reached the 100-point mark six times this season. The Blue Dragons are No. 1 in field-goal percentage (49.1 percent). HCC ranks last of eight teams in 3-point percentage at 30.8 percent, but leads the league in free-throw percentage at 71.8 percent.
+ HCC ranks last in the Jayhawk West in defensive scoring average (82.4 ppg.), sixth in field-goal defense (42.6 percent), but leads in the 3-point defense (30.6 percent). Hutch has allowed opponents 80 or more points in 14 of 23 games.
+ In Jayhawk West games, the Blue Dragons offensively are scoring 92.0 points per game. HCC is shooting 50.2 percent in conference play, 35.3 percent from point range and 73.7 percent from the free-throw line. Defensively, the Blue Dragons are allowing 83.4 points per game. Opposing teams are shooting 43.0 percent and 30.4 percent from distance.
+ All-American Kadeem Allen is leading the Jayhawk West and is second in the nation in scoring at 28.2 points per game. He is shooting 45.7 percent overall, 32.6 percent from 3-point range and 76.1 percent from the free-throw line (5th in the Jayhawk West). He is averaging 7.1 rebounds, 5.78 assists (2nd in the Jayhawk West) and 2.17 steals per game (tied for 2nd in the Jayhawk West). In conference play, Allen is averaging 27.7 points per game.
+ Allen has been named the Jayhawk Conference Player of the Week seven times and NJCAA National Player of the Week twice.
+ Second-leading scorer DeShawn Freeman missed last Saturday's game. Freeman is averaging 15.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 56.5 percent from the field. In the conference, Freeman is at 14.0 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 57.4 percent from the floor.
+ Sophomore Coreantae DeBerry is averaging 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He is shooting a Jayhawk West-best 65.5 percent from the floor, which ranks No. 13 in the NJCAA. DeBerry is now hitting 80.0 percent of his free throws, which ranks fourth in the Jayhawk West. DeBerry averages 12.9 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 73.3 percent in Jayhawk West games.
+ Sophomore Tafari Whittingham remains out because of an injury. He is HCC's leading rebounder with 7.8 boards per game, which ranks fourth in the Jayhawk West. He was averaging 10.2 points per game. Whittingham had three double-doubles this season.
+ Guard Darrick Wood comes off back-to-back 20-point games. He returned from a six-game absence on Jan. 8. Staring the last four games, Wood is averaging 11.6 points, 13.4 points in conference play. Wood is now second in the Jayhawk West in free-throw percentage at 80.3 percent.
+ Sophomore Nathan Jackson has scored in double figures in 12 of 23 games, scoring 14 points against Dodge City last week. His overall numbers have dipped to 9.1 points while shooting 57.0 percent from the floor and 5.1 rebounds per game. He is averaging just 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in conference play.
+ The Blue Dragons have been hot and cold in the rebounding department this season. HCC is fourth in the Jayhawk West in rebounding at 42.4 boards per game, including 13.6 offensive caroms per game. The Dragons allow 40.0 boards per contest, including 16.7 offensive rebounds allowed.
+ HCC turns the ball over 14.7 times per game and forces 14.5 takeaways per game.
+ The Dragons are averaging 16.83 assists per game, which ranks second in the West.
+ HCC is second in the league in blocked shots with 5.52 per game. Hutch had a season-high 10 swats vs. Garden City.
Scouting Seward County
l The three-time defending Jayhawk West champion Saints got off to a rough start, opening the season 4-6. Bryan Zollinger's team has righted the Saints' ship with a record of 11-2 since, including a nine-game winning streak.
+ Seward County is scoring 83.8 points per game (3rd in the Jayhawk West). The Saints are shooting 46.3 percent from the field overall (6th in the West), 32.3 percent (7th in the West) from 3-point range and 64.2 percent (7th in the West) from the foul line.
+ Defensively, Seward County is allowing 71.9 points per game. The Saints are fourth in scoring defense in the Jayhawk West. Opposing teams are shooting 40.4 percent overall and 33.9 percent from 3-point range. Seward County is fourth and fourth in the league, respectively, in those two categories.
+ Niem Stevenson is the sixth-leading scorer in the Jayhawk West and leads the Saints at 17.3 points per game. Stevenson is shooting 49.1 percent from the floor, 31.8 percent from 3-point range and 63.8 percent from the line. Stevenson also averages 5.9 rebounds and ranks 10th in the league in steals at 1.30 per game.
+ Kevin Smith is second in scoring for Seward County at 14.3 points per game, shooting 43.8 percent from the field. Smith is a 70.0 percent free-throw shooter.
+ Secean Johnson is averaging 12.2 points per game and finds ways to get to the free-throw line. Shooting 70.9 percent at the stripe, Johnson averages 7.2 free-throw attempts per game. Johnson is averaging 4.5 rebounds.
+ Malcolm Hill-Bey is Seward's top 3-point shooter and a real scoring option in conference play. For the season, Hill-Bey is averaging 12.2 points per game and is Seward County's top 3-point shooter at 38.7 percent with a team-high 36 made 3-pointers. Hill-Bey is seventh in the league in steals at 1.50 per game.
+ Brian Bridgeforth is third in the Jayhawk West in field-goal percentage at 62.4 percent from the field. He is averaging 10.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
+ Seward County is averaging 40.4 rebounds and 14.4 offensive boards per game. The Saints allow 36.2 rebounds per game.
+ Seward County is averaging 11.7 assists, 8.2 steals and 3.2 blocks per game. The Saints turn the ball over an average of 15.0 times per game while forcing 18.5 takeaways.
Series history vs. Seward County
This will be the 86th meeting between Hutchinson and Seward County in a series that began in 1970.
The Blue Dragons own a decisive 68-27 all-time record against the Saints.
HCC is 41-4 all-time against Seward County in games played in Hutchinson. HCC owns a 26-19 record at Liberal. The Saints are 6-1 vs. Hutchinson at the Green House in the last seven meetings with the Blue Dragons.
HCC trails 4-1 in Region VI meetings, the only victory coming in 1981.