NCCU Eagles Perry Smith Jr. (12) secures jumpball to kickoff the Morgan State game. Photo by Daijah Boyd.

Thrillers, blowouts, takeaways from NCCU’s basketball season

May 3, 2024

The 2023-2024 season for N.C. Central’s Men’s Basketball Team included big wins, crushing losses and moments to remember.

Due to the injuries the team faced throughout the season, NCCU Basketball Coach LeVelle Moton described the year as “challenging.”

NCCU’s overall record was 18-13 (9-5 in its conference, 11-2 at home, and 6-9 away), finished over .500 and made their way to the tournament.

One of those 13 losses came in the season opener against the 2022 NCAA National Champions, University of Kansas. The Eagles fell 99-56 and were dominated in the paint 48-20.

In the next five games NCCU went 3-2, which included a classic against their MEAC rival, Campbell University. In the 78-75 overtime thriller, fans from both colleges were on the edge of their seats.

The year began to get shaky after that win. The Eagles dominated Coastal Carolina 70-58, but a 3-game losing streak, which included their first home loss, followed.

“I would say the biggest challenge was overcoming when we lost a couple in a row and our first loss at home,” Josh Smith, a NCCU sophomore guard said.

The Eagles found a momentum swing when they went on a 6-game winning streak. In a stretch that started with a win against their nemesis North Carolina A&T, NCCU scored a combined 493 points, 93 assists, and 210 rebounds.

The journey from there to the tournament became exhilarating. NCCU won 7 of their last 12 regular season games.

One of those wins included the last game of the regular season against South Carolina State. According to Coach Moton, this was a standout game that meant a lot to him and the players.

Eagles Keishon Porter (11), Po’Boigh King (35) and Emannuel Izunabor (13) huddle during the tournament game against Delaware State. Photo by Daijah Boyd.

The game was recognized as ‘DB Day’ to honor fallen eagle and former Eagle Forward Devin Butts. Throughout the season, Eagles worn “DB 52” patches on their jerseys to recognize Butts.

You could feel the emotion in the air as his family was in attendance. NCCU came out victorious 79-68 and clinched the 2nd seed in the MEAC tournament.

NCCU’s season came to an end after the second game of the tournament. They fell short 71-58 to Delaware State.

Moton said that the team “played hard and competed every single night,” but they are still hungry for a championship.

“We don’t do moral victories so it’s either championship or nothing for us, that’s our standard,” Moton said. “We fell short of our goal and so next year we’re just focusing on championships.”

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NCCU Eagles Perry Smith Jr. (12) secures jumpball to kickoff the Morgan State game. Photo by Daijah Boyd.
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