Men’s basketball travels to North Alabama to open up 2016-17

Men’s basketball travels to North Alabama to open up 2016-17


SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo men's basketball travels to the state where their season ended a year ago, Alabama. This time an hour and a half due west, as the Lions look to get revenge on the team that knocked them out of the 2016 NCAA Tournament when they open up the 2016-17 campaign on Saturday, Nov. 12 against No. 5 University of Alabama-Huntsville.

Saint Leo and Ala.-Huntsville faced off in the NCAA South Regional where the Chargers came away victorious, 98-81, on their home court in Huntsville, Ala. on March 12.

The game is set to get underway at 7:30 p.m. where the Lions face off with the Chargers. A year ago, the two teams went 1-1 with Saint Leo winning the first matchup on Nov. 14, 2015, at home, 93-90, in overtime. In that win, Marcus Dewberry, a 2016 Preseason All-American selection by the Division II Bulletin, dropped 26 points to help lift the Lions over the Chargers.

The story will change this year when the two teams tango at a neutral site, the University of North Alabama. The game is the second game of the Sunshine State/Gulf South Conference Challenge where the Lions and University of Tampa Spartans travel to face the UAH-Chargers and North Alabama Lions.

Tampa and North Alabama kick things off at 5:30 p.m. before Saint Leo and Ala.-Huntsville take the court.

"We are excited for the start of the season and the opportunity to play against outside competition," Head Coach Vince Alexander stated. "However, we do have a tough challenge as we start the season No. 5-nationally ranked Ala.-Huntsville. We split with them last year in our meetings – with them winning the NCAA South Regional game at their place which left a bitter taste in our mouths."

Following Saturday's opening game with Ala.-Huntsville, Saint Leo will then face host North Alabama on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 3:00 p.m. A year ago at the SSC/GSC Challenge, the Lions, who wear Green and Gold, walked away from the court with a 97-90 win. Saint Leo will look to repeat their efforts at the SSC/GSC Challenge as they went 2-0 a year ago.

"Obviously losing that game in March, it was the last game of our season; it leaves you thinking all summer and into this fall. They are a very good team and very well coached, but we are looking forward to seeing where we are as a team when we face them Saturday," Alexander added about the opening weekend of the 2016-17 basketball season.

With six returners from a year ago, the Lions will hold a slight upper hand during the opening weekend as they added eight new bodies to the roster and have two upper classman return to the court this season.

Returning to the front court is the dynamic duo of Marcus Dewberry and Tyreece Brice. These two will be tough to stop this season as Dewberry is playing his final season in the Green and Gold and Brice playing his second season at Saint Leo. Behind Dewberry and Brice, Saint Leo added four guards to the roster in Aikeem Sims, Davon Payne, Junior Searcy and Malik Fuller, with returning guard Gary Hector.

The Lions see two newcomers come to the roster as forwards in Justin Satchell and Antoine Tobias where Saint Leo snagged two trees for centers in 6-foot-11 Drago Popovic and 6-foot-10 Darius Huggins to the roster as well.

 "We've added some guys to this roster to go along with whom I feel are two of the best guards in the country … nevertheless, we are still learning each other and working very hard on our offensive and defensive execution," Alexander mentioned. "We look forward to our progress throughout the season and the great challenge that lies ahead."

After the trip to Florence, Ala., the Lions will head to Lakeland to open up Sunshine State Conference play when they take on Florida Southern at 7:30 p.m.

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