Kansas City, MO – The sixth-seed University of the Cumberlands Men's Basketball Team opens it 2017 national tournament run today at 5 p.m. when they face three-seed Texas Wesleyan in the opening round of Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. This is the Patriots 25th trip to the national tournament and the first time in program history that they will square off with the Rams.
Cumberlands enters today's game with a 22-8 overall record, including an 8-6 mark in the Mid-South Conference. UC finished fourth in the MSC and fell in the opening round of the conference tournament to Lindsey Wilson. The Patriots are led by Chance Morton (JR/Mobile, AL), Marquis Yates (SR/Manassas, VA), and Bernard Samuel (JR/Charleston, SC). Morton leads the Patriots averaging 13.3 points per game, while grabbing 8.6 rebounds. Yates is averaging 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this season. Samuel and Tornes are averaging 10.9 and 11.8 points per game respectfully.
The Patriots average 75.9 points per game, while holding opponents to 65.5 points per game so far this season. UC is ranked in the top ten of the NAIA in three-point field goal defensive (3rd), total defensive rebounds (5th), and scoring defense per game (6th).
Texas Wesleyan enters today's game with a 24-7 record, including a 13-5 mark in the Sooner Athletic Conference. The Rams earned an automatic berth to the tournament after winning the SAC regular season championship. Texas Wesleyan advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament before falling to tournament champion the University of Science and Arts 80-68.
The Rams have five players averaging double-figures led by Dion Rogers, Ryan Harris, and Trevon Jeffery. Rogers lead Texas Wesleyan averaging 19.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Harris averages 15.3 points, while Jeffery has grabbed a team-high 275 rebounds with scoring 355 points. Overall the Rams average 86.4 points per game, which ranks tenth in the NAIA, and 19.27 assists per game which is third best.
Fans can follow the action with live video through the NAIA Network, while live stats will be available here.
For the latest and most up-to-date information on University of the Cumberlands Athletics, please visit www.cumberlandspatriots.com. Fans can also follow us on Twitter - @UC_Patriots, Instagram - @UCPatriots, YouTube – CumberlandsPatriots, and Facebook by searching University of the Cumberlands Athletics.