Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Century of Tradition: Durham Edition

Considering the number of schools in Boston and Massachusetts as a whole, it comes as a surprise to some that the Terriers’ closest conference rival – geographically speaking – is an out-of-state opponent. After Northeastern packed its bags and left America East following the 2004-05 season, New Hampshire became the Terriers’ shortest in-conference trip. With the Wildcats making the trip down to Case for tomorrow’s game, it’s time to take a look at BU’s history with the Granite State.

Adam Sandler may hail from New Hampshire, but the Wildcats aren’t laughing about their all-time record versus the Terriers. BU is 87-36 all-time versus UNH, including a Boston sweep last year. To put the Terriers’ 51-win advantage in perspective, consider this: BU is 20 or more games above .500 against only one other school. That would be Colby, which no longer plays D-I basketball and hasn’t appeared on the Terriers’ schedule for 40 years.

The teams’ first meeting was the first game for BU’s first head coach, P.V. Stroud, and it didn’t end well. UNH won 75-12. Needless to say, Stroud’s tenure was short. New Hampshire proved to be a difficult opponent in the basketball program’s infancy, as the Terriers also lost the next ten meetings before securing a 31-20 win in 1930-31. Fittingly, the Terriers’ head coach was named Win Carlson, who left after the following season as the team’s winningest coach.

After some more difficulties against the Wildcats, BU won 14 straight against their opponent from the north and had a chance to even the series at 17 apiece in the last game of the 1953-54 season. UNH managed to halt the streak short of 15 with a three-point win in Durham, depriving the Terriers of both a .500 record in the head-to-head series and for the season. BU ended the season with nine wins and 11 losses. Five years later, the historic Elite Eight team of 1958-59 won 86-65 in Durham to draw level at 18-18 all-time.

After 50 years of even play between the two sides, BU has dominated UNH for the past-half-century. Notable performances can be found on both ends of the court. The Terrier record for points scored, 124, was set in a 48-point win against the Wildcats on February 17, 1979. Last time the two teams met, Corey Lowe attempted 16 3-pointers, tying a record he already held. On the defensive end, BU turned in a memorable performance by holding the Wildcats to 29 points on January 13, 2007.

While we’re on the subject of Durham, there’s another school hailing from a place called Durham. Said school happens to be pretty good at basketball. The Duke Blue Devils have opposed the Terriers on six occasions, winning all six. Some of the contests have been competitive – BU lost by just ten in a game on January 21, 1992 – but others were ugly, such as the 109-55 drubbing handed down by the eventual NCAA champions at Cameron Indoor Stadium. As difficult as some of the Terriers' losses have been to swallow this year, none of them approach a 54-point defeat.

A Century of Tradition will return to its normal Thursday time slot next week.

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