|No. 24 Rhode Island in midst of historic run|
Rhode Island is on a historic winning streak of 10 games, its longest in almost 70 years, and the Rams are ranked -- at No. 24 -- for the first time since November 2016.
They are also coming off their eighth straight conference road victory, a program record, in an 88-74 win at Dayton last Saturday.
Rhode Island's last 10-game winning streak occurred between the 1948-49 and 1949-50 seasons. The Rams (15-3, 7-0 Atlantic 10) look to build on the streak when they next visit another program nicknamed the Rams -- Fordham (6-13, 1-6) in New York City on Wednesday.
"We know the position we're in," Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley said. "We know what our goals are. We're just really locked in on that next game."
Of the ranking, Hurley said his team will not feel added pressure.
"It's attention you can't run from," said Hurley, whose brother, Bobby Hurley, has Arizona State ranked No. 21. "They should be excited about it and want to keep it going."
Fordham enters on the opposite end of the spectrum as losers of five straight games and seven of its last eight games.
In a 68-46 loss at Saint Joseph's last Saturday, Fordham was led by junior guard Joseph Chartouny and junior forward Prokop Slanina, who each scored 11 points with Slanina adding eight rebounds and two blocks and Chartouny seven rebounds along with four assists and two steals.
"I ask for our guys to fight and defend for 40 minutes," Fordham coach Jeff Neubauer said. "We certainly need to find a way to get over the hump."
Rhode Island's key to success is its depth led by senior guard Jared Terrell, who had a season-high 24 points in the win over Dayton. Senior backcourt mate E.C. Mathews, who had 17 points and seven rebounds, moved into the top 10 of Rhode Island's career scoring list with 1,686 points.
Another senior guard, Jarvis Garrett, had seven points, five assists and three rebounds in 20 minutes. Hurley calls Garrett "the key" to the team because of his acceptance of coming off the bench.
"If he would have gone sour coming off the bench and been frustrated, that would have had a negative effect on the team. Instead, he's a weapon," Hurley said.
Reserve junior forward Nicola Akele helped fill the void left by the foul-plagued Rams' frontcourt against Dayton with a season-high nine points, all in the first half. Forwards Andre Berry and Cyril Langevine had two personal fouls apiece while Akele went 4-for-5 from the field and added three of his four rebounds in 11 minutes in the first half.
Reserve freshman guard Fatts Russell scored all 10 of his points in the second half, creating a 10-5 run of his own.
"We have a special team," Akele told the Providence (R.I.) Journal. "I keep believing in myself, believing in the team and keep fighting."
Terrell added, "We've got a lot of guys that can come off the bench and do a lot of great things."