Jan. 4, 2012
After a thrilling overtime winner in the West Coast Conference opener on the road, LMU (8-6, 1-0) returns to Gersten Pavilion for its WCC home opener against BYU (12-4, 1-1) on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. It will be just the fourth all-time meeting between the two programs and the first ever at Gersten Pavilion. The game will be on PrimeTicket and BYUtv, as well as streamed on LMULions.com in non-TV markets. The game will also be on KXLU 88.9 FM.
INSIDE THE LIONS
LMU opened WCC play with a 77-76 overtime win at San Francisco. The Lions improve to 3-0 on the season in overtime. The Lions win a WCC opener on the road for the first time since a 72-68 win at Saint Mary's on Jan. 13, 1995. The Lions improve to 8-6 on the season, 1-0 in the WCC.
Drew Viney returned to the line-up on Dec. 27 against Vanguard and scored a game-high 29 points with eight rebounds. He had 15 points against USF, fouling out late in the second half, playing 32 minutes. He has played four games on the season and is averaging 16.0 points per contest. He is one of three Lions (active) in double figures for the season. Sophomore Anthony Ireland averages 14.1 while junior Jarred DuBois averages 10.2. Freshman C.J. Blackwell led the Lions with 19 points in his WCC opener, and is fifth on the team with 9.3 points. Senior LaRon Armstead is fourth with 9.5 points per game, playing just 23 minutes against USF due to a concussion suffered early in the second half.
As for Ireland, he had 21 assists in the final two non-conference games, going for a career-high 11 against Morgan State on Dec. 21. According to records, its is the most in back-to-back games since Terrell Lowery in 1990. He leads the team with 5.21 apg, ranking third in the WCC.
The Lions lead the league in free throw percentage, hitting 73.5 percent, including a crucial 14-for-16 effort in the win over USF. The Lions' top-six scorers hit better than 75 percent, including LaRon Armstead's 87.8 percent, which as of Jan. 1 is second in the conference. He is 36-for-41 on the season. Jarred DuBois leads the team at 90.5 percent (19-for-21 - but doesn't qualify for WCC rankings). Anthony Ireland is 13th in the league at 75.6 percent.
LMU also leads the league in three-point field goal defense, holding opponents to 31.4 percent from long range. The Lions have held seven teams under 30 percent for the game, including UCLA's 13.3 percent and North Texas' 15.8 percent.
The Lions are 3-1 in their last four games against ranked opponents. They started the season with a 69-58 win over No. 17 UCLA and with the win over No. 22 Saint Louis, they have now beaten a ranked-opponent in consecutive chances for the first time since the 1989-90 NCAA Tournament.
Senior LaRon Armstead suffered a concussion in the second half against San Francisco and will be evaluated during the week. His status for the BYU game will be determined later in the week... Junior Ashley Hamilton, who was the Lions' leading scorer after three games, played 16 minutes against Harvard, scoring eight points before he left with a injury to his right foot. He began practice on Monday and will likely be in uniform for BYU on Thursday... Senior Tim Diederichs has missed the last two games due a strain in his right foot and is day-to-day... Prior to the team's departure to San Francisco, redshirt sophomore Edgar Garibay asked for and was granted his release from the LMU men's basketball program. Garibay played 37 games in three season, earning a medical redshirt in his freshman season in 2009-10 after tearing his ACL.
The Lions will play BYU for just the fourth time in school history and for the first time ever at Gersten Pavilion when the Cougars come to the Pavilion for WCC action on Jan. 5. It is the first opponent in conference play other than the seven schools that have made up the league since 1979 and the first other than those seven in Gersten Pavilion. The last time the Lions played a WCC game against a team other than its most recent membership was Nevada on Feb. 3, 1979. The Lions won 67-62 in Alumni Gym. The Cougars enter the game 12-4 overall and 1-1 in the WCC, falling at Saint Mary's in the opener and then defeating San Diego in Provo on Saturday. Four players average double figures, including Noah Hartsock with 17.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.