By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
An Atlanta rivalry tonight will also be an important men's basketball game in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Clark Atlanta (12-8, 6-3 SIAC) hosts Morehouse (11-6, 5-4 SIAC) in a battle of schools located just a few feet from each other. That's ironic as only one game separates the two in the SIAC East Division race.
A Morehouse win could create a third-place tie between them and CAU, though Fort Valley State (9-11, 7-4 SIAC) would need to lose to Miles (4-13, 4-4 SIAC) tonight in Birmingham, Ala. Otherwise the Atlanta schools would be a half-game behind FVSU. Benedict is in first half Claflin is second. One game separates them.
But that's only if Morehouse wins. The Maroon Tigers are 3-0 in divisional play and have won four of their last five games. The one loss was a huge hiccup against cellar-dweller Spring Hill (4-17, 3-7 SIAC) nine days ago. They are led by guard Tyrius Walker who averages 15.5 points per game and is among the league leaders in assists, points and free-throw percentage.
While Morehouse is a high-scoring team, their 76.8 points per game (fourth in the SIAC) is a notch behind Clark Atlanta and their 76.9 points per game.
Tim Sanders (14.8 ppg) and Derek Harper (12.7 ppg) lead a CAU team that has five, nearly six, players averaging double-digit points a game. The Panthers are also the better rebounding team so far this season.
A missed last second shot at first place Benedict (11-8, 8-2 SIAC) was all that kept CAU from extending their three-game winning streak to four on Saturday.
But the big deal Monday is this is a battle between neighboring schools that look to beat each other in the biggest basketball game for each school every year. It's the first of two contests, with Morehouse hosting CAU, ironically, the day before Valentine's Day.