Aggies show improvement this season by TyRel Thompson
The men’s basketball team of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University is rolling into midseason in stride.
The Aggies are 15-11 overall (8-3 in conference play), coming in at number two in the current Mid Eastern Athletic Conference standings.
Last season was a test of faith for the Aggies, with them having their first losing season in years. A few key takeaways from last season for the Aggies; winning only a total of three games, one game in conference play and two other games outside of the conference, the team finishing last in conference play (1-15), having the worst overall record (3-29) in the MEAC.
It was head coach Jay Joyner’s, South Carolina State University alum, first full season as the Aggies’ head basketball coach. He took over as the interim head coach in the 2015-2016 season following the resignation of former head basketball coach, Cy Alexander. The departure of Sam Hunt was a big impact as well, with him being the team’s leading scorer a season ago.
Last season was a test of faith for the Aggies, with them playing in their first losing season in recent years. It is important however to have a short term memory when it comes to sports and it comes with the territory of being an athlete. Nevertheless, despite a rocky 2016-2017 season,he N.C. A&T Men’s basketball team has made many improvements this season.
The Aggies started off with a 5-1 record through the first 6 games of the season, and 6-1 through the first 7 games in conference play. A huge reason for their success so far this season is the emergence of redshirt junior forward, Femi Olujobi. Olujobi in the MEAC conference, is currently 5th in scoring (17.5 points per game) and 6th in rebounds (7.8 pg). The forward has played exceptionally well so far this season, leaving teams with no choice but to double-team him whenever he has the ball.
Other key players for the Aggies this season are freshman Kameron Langley, and senior Denzel Keyes. Langley, a freshman guard and Greensboro native, is 2nd in the MEAC with 1.69 steals per game, and 3rd in assists (4.9 pg). Keyes, a redshirt senior, and crowd favorite, has brought an energy boost to the team and is currently 7th in the MEAC averaging 53.6 percent from the field.
One of the highlights of the season was the Aggies defeating the reigning MEAC champions North Carolina Central University (11-10, 5-2) in a hard fought game. Without a doubt, the rivalry between the 2 universities runs deep, and has a lot of history. After trailing 48-31 the team ended the game on a 39-16 run. Leading the way for the Aggies was Denzel Keyes, who had a game-high 20 points, scoring 15 of his points in the second half. What a comeback by the Aggies; as well as, a good season so far, and what is looking like a very promising one.
Since defeating the Eagles the team has went 2-2 in its last 4 games. During that 4 game span the team notched a win against Hampton University (13-14, 8-4) and winning a close one against Delaware State University (2-24, 0-11). The next matchup for the Aggies will be in a double-header against Howard University (8-19, 5-6) on February 17th, in Corbett Sports Center.