BU plays down big game vs. Stony Brook

Call it a matchup of the once-defeateds.

Both Boston University and Stony Brook have only one conference loss, sitting tied atop the America East at 7-1. The view from on high in AE is becoming a familiar one for the two schools, as both found a way to the conference title game last season -- with BU winning a thriller and advancing to the NCAA tournament.

The teams have already played once in 2011-12, with the Terriers taking a 61-55 decision at home on Jan. 14.

With the season’s second meeting looming Friday (9 p.m., ESPNU and ESPN3), the Seawolves are promoting a “RED-OUT” at sold-out Pritchard Gym. Students in attendance will get T-shirts and have a chance to win prizes (including $20,000 or a 2012 Mercedes C-Class).

With a setup like that, the stakes must be pretty high. Right, Joe Jones?

“This game on Friday, to be honest with you, I don’t know if it’s any more important than tonight’s game,” the BU coach said after his team handled UMBC 83-48 on Tuesday night, “because we’re gonna play certainly seven more conference games, we’re gonna play in the conference championships and we’ve just gotta keep getting better.

“That’s really the goal," he said. "I hope I can get them to understand that, and we will play better if we do.”

Jones said the Terriers don’t always play well when they let the magnitude of a game get to them, that they’re much better when they take each one as just the next game on the schedule.

Travis Robinson led the Terriers out of the starting gates quickly on Tuesday with 10 first-half points.

“We know UMBC is not one of the better teams in the league but we take it just like we’re playing Stony Brook or Vermont, it’s just the next game on the schedule,” Robinson said afterward. “So we just want to get out and play the best basketball that we can. So we had to jump out on ‘em and make our statement.”

BU’s statement clearly left an impression on UMBC coach Randy Munroe.

“It’s certainly one of the top three teams in the league,” Monroe said of BU. “Without question. They have some very good players. I think they have good balance.”

While the Terriers only have two players -- Darryl Partin and D.J. Irving -- averaging double-figures in scoring on the season, on Tuesday they also got strong contributions from Robinson, Patrick Hazel and reserves Zach Chionuma and Malik Thomas.

“I really feel like right now we have one of the stronger benches in the league and I think it’s gonna be a strength of ours down the stretch,” Jones said.

Stony Brook, meanwhile, is led by senior guard Bryan Dougher (13.7 points per game average) and junior forward Tommy Brenton (8.1 rebounds per game).

BU has been up and down this season, going through streaks of four losses, four wins and seven losses before its current seven-game winning streak. But the Terriers feel the tough nonconference schedule they played -- six of their 11 losses have come to teams with RPIs between 50 and 75 -- has helped prepare them for league play.

“We’re a really tough-minded team,” Partin said Tuesday. “We pride ourselves always on defense and rebounding. Going against bigger, better teams, teams that were just more prepared at that time, it really helped us out in situations like this.

“We always stay confident and know how good of a team we are, and just remembering what we can do and what we will do. That’s all we try to focus on, just staying confident and just betting better day by day. We knew the wins would come around.”

The win came easily Tuesday, as the Terriers led by as many as 37 points in the second half. It won’t be anywhere near that easy on Friday.

Stony Brook is coming off of an impressive win of its own, clocking Hartford 60-37 on Wednesday night behind Dougher’s 23 points (15 coming on 3s).

“It’s the next game on our schedule. That’s really our motto, how we take it every game,” Partin said of the matchup with Stony Brook. “Now we can really focus in on them, look at some of the mistakes we made last time playing them. And just get better.

“Just get ready to come out with a lot of energy -- I know it’s gonna be a good environment up there. They’re a very good team. We’ll be ready to go.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.