Playing their second single-game of the non-conference season, the 13th-ranked Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team plays host to NJCAA Division II Hesston College at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night at the Sports Arena.

One year ago, the Blue Dragons received one of their toughest tests in the non-conference season from the Larks. HCC eventually put the Larks away 84-74.

The Blue Dragons go after the program’s ninth time to post at least 10 straight victories to start a season.

In each of head coach Steve Eck’s first two seasons, the Blue Dragons were fast out of the gate. The 2010 HCC men started 9-0 and last year’s team won its first 17 games and climbed to No. 1 in the country in the NJCAA poll.

Hutchinson comes off a pair of victories on Friday and Saturday over Central Nebraska and Murray State. Freshman Anthony Thomas posted two double-doubles and the Dragons defensively were stellar, holding both opponents to less than 40 percent shooting and have done so in 7 of 9 games this season.

Defensively, HCC is allowing just 60.3 points and opposing teams to shoot 35.6 percent overall and 22.4 percent from 3-point range.

The 4-5 Larks come into Tuesday’s game riding the hot hand of sophomore guard Mahlon Jones, who had 33 points in a 91-83 loss to Barton and scored 32 points in an overtime victory over the Tabor College JV.

Scoring hasn’t been a problem for Hesston College this season, but stopping opposing teams has been. The Larks are allowing 86.3 points per game and have given up at least 80 points seven times.

Game Coverage
Internet: The Blue Dragon Sports Network will provide a live videostream beginning at 6:50 p.m. The link to BDSN can be found at BlueDragonSports.com and click on Game Day or Broadcast Schedule.

Radio: Blue Dragon flagship station KHUT-FM (102.9) and sister station KWBW-AM (1450) will broadcast live with Glen Grunwald (play-by-play) and Rusty Hilst (analysis) calling the action beginning at 6:50 p.m.

Live Statistics: Live stats will be available just before tipoff on Blue Dragon Game Day or on the Blue Dragon Sports Network Broadcast schedule at BlueDragonSports.com just before tipoff.

The Coaches
Hutchinson: Steve Eck is in his third season with the Blue Dragons. He has a 62-13 record with HCC. Eck is in his 14th season as a junior college head coach with a record of 384-65. Eck is in his 32 overall season as a head coach and has a 712-99 record.

Hesston College: Dustin Galyon is in his fourth season with the Larks. He is 49-50 at Hesston.

About The 2011-12 Blue Dragons
The Blue Dragons are averaging 78.8 points per game offensively. HCC is shooting 48.9 percent from the field, 31.3 percent from 3-point range and 62.0 percent from the foul line.

Defensively, the Dragons are allowing 60.3 points per game. Opposing teams are shooting just 35.6 percent overall and 22.4 percent from 3-point range. The Blue Dragons are averaging forcing 20.1 turnovers per game. HCC has held opponents to less than 40 percent shooting in 7 of 9 games this season.

Four players are averaging in double figures for HCC led by sophomore Mark Braden, who is averaging a team-high 15.6 points per game and is shooting 54.1 percent from the field.

Freshman Anthony Thomas is averaging 15.1 points per game and is shooting 49.0 percent. Thomas is also averaging a team-high 8.2 rebounds per game.

Sophomore A.J. Spencer comes the bench to average 11.2 points per game and is shooting 52.1 percent from the floor. Freshman Alex Davis is averaging 11.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and is shooting 54.1 percent.

The Dragons have shot better than 50 percent in 4 of 9 games.

After being out-rebounded in four-straight games, HCC had a plus rebounding margin in two games last week. The Dragons are averaging 40.8 rebounds, including 12.7 offensive boards per game. HCC is allowing 37.2 rebounds per game.

Scouting Hesston College
Averaging 24 points per game, which ties for eighth in NJCAA Division II, high-scoring guard Mahlon Jones comes off a pair of 30-point games last weekend against Barton and the Tabor College JV to lead to lead the 2011-12 Hesston College Larks.

The Larks are averaging 74.1 points per game and are shooting 45.8 percent from the field. The Larks are shooting 37.0 percent from 3-point range and only 53.6 percent from the foul line. Hesston has taken care of the ball fairly well averaging just more than 12 turnovers per game.

Jones leads three Larks who score in double figures. He is shooting 52 percent from the field and is also the team’s leading rebounder at almost seven rebounds per game.

Pierre Zook is averaging 12.2 points and is the Lark’s leading 3-point shooter at nearly 40 percent. Alex Santiago, who played last season at Butler, scored 17 points in the season opener against Union College, but hasn’t played since.

The Larks are a minus-8.5 in rebounding margin.

Series History With Hesston College
Despite there being only 30 miles between campuses, this will be only the 10th meeting all-time between the Blue Dragons and Larks.

Hutchinson is 9-0 against Hesston College with all games being played at the Sports Arena.

Last season’s 84-74 victory over the Larks was the closest margin of victory for Hutchinson in the series. Before that, the closest game was 30 points in 1996. HCC’s largest margin of victory was 62 in 1999. HCC’s average margin of victory in the first eight meetings with Hesston was 49.9 points.