Lions Travel to Unbeaten Toreros
Conference play continues with a Wednesday trip to San Diego.
Jan. 15, 2013
|GAME:||LMU (8-9, 1-3) at San Diego (10-8, 3-0)|
|DATE/TIME:||Jan. 16, 2013 // 7:00 p.m. (PST)|
|LOCATION:||Jenny Craig Pavilion // San Diego, CA|
|TV:||Time Warner Cable SportsNet|
|RADIO:||KXLU 88.9 FM (Jesse Kass)|
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LOS ANGELES -- LMU men's basketball continues a busy opening stretch to the West Coast Conference season when they travel to San Diego on Wednesday, Jan. 16 for a 7 pm tipoff. The Lions (8-9, 1-3) begin their second two-game WCC road swing of the season against WCC unbeaten San Diego (10-8, 3-0), who is coming off a road sweep last week. The game will be aired live on Time Warner Cable SportsNet and can be heard on KXLU 88.9 FM.
INSIDE THE LIONS
The Lions are 8-9 on the season after splitting a pair of conference games at home last week - earning an 84-80 come-from-behind win over Santa Clara on Thursday and falling to Portland, 68-64, on Saturday.
Junior Anthony Ireland led the Lions with 29 points and eight assists on Thursday and went for 22 points, four assists and four rebounds against Portland, pushing his average to 20.8 points per game on the season, which is ranked 12th (as of Jan. 13) in college basketball (NCAA-I) and second in the WCC (WCC rankings on page 4). In the last four games at home, Ireland has averaged 26.3 points, 4.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds while shooting 46.4 percent from the field, 54.2 percent from three (13-for-24) and 93.3 percent (28-for-30) from the charity stripe, going 14-for-15 this past week.
Senior Ashley Hamilton is having his best season as a Lion, scoring 17 points with seven rebounds, two blocks, a steal and an assist off the bench in the win over Santa Clara and going for 17 more against Portland. He is averaging 15.1 ppg and 6.8 rpg, ranking ninth and sixth, respectively, in the WCC. He has 526 rebounds in his career, the 25th Lion to crack 500 rebounds for a career. He is ranked 21st all-time at LMU.
Redshirt junior Alex Osborne has started the last eight games at center in the place of Godwin Okonji, who had emergency Laparoscopic Appendectomy on the evening Dec. 12. Osborne has responded in a big way. He had nine points and a career-best 10 rebounds against Ole Miss in his first start and then followed that with 11 points and five rebounds at Saint Louis. Against Saint Mary's he led the Lions with eight rebounds while scoring 10 points with two blocks and two steals. He added eight points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists against Santa Clara. He is 20th in the league in rebounding at 4.7 rpg, 14th in offensive rebounds with 31, and 11th with 1.41 steals per contest, earning six this last weekend.
All about shooting: The Lions have had five games when hitting better than 50 percent from three and hold a 4-1 record in those games. They did it in their first WCC win over the Broncos, hitting 9-for-16 (56.3 percent) from long range, going 6-for-8 in the second half. Ireland went 3-for-6 while freshman Nick Stover came off the bench to hit both of his attempts to finish with six points in 13 minutes. The Lions are third in the league in three-point shooting at 37.3 percent. Anthony Ireland is fifth in the WCC hitting 42.5 percent (hitting 7-of-14 last week) and Ashley Hamilton is sixth at 42.2 percent. On the flip side, the Lions held Santa Clara to just 40 percent shooting in the win on Thursday, but saw Portland hit 54.7 percent in the setback Saturday. The Lions are 0-5 when opponents do that this season, including all three WCC setbacks.
The 2012-13 season is a combination of experience and the unknown as the Lions returned eight letterwinners, including three starters, from last year's team that had the best season since the Elite Eight campaign at 21-13 overall and 11-5 (4th) in the WCC. With the experience, however, there is plenty of youth. The 15-man roster has just 15 years of NCAA Division-I basketball experience - one of the youngest rosters in the country.
Chase Flint (who ranks seventh in the WCC in minutes played at 32.6 mpg and eighth in assists with 4.29 apg, while averaging 6.6 points per game) missed the game against Saint Mary's due to a stress reaction in his left shin, becoming the second Lion starter to miss games due to injury/illness. He will miss four to six weeks. Godwin Okonji (5.3 ppg, 4.2 apg, 0.60 bpg) continues his rough season, leaving the game Saturday with a turned ankle. His status is questionable for Wednesday. He already missed two games earlier this season as he underwent an emergency Laparoscopic Appendectomy on the evening Dec. 12. Okonji was up and missed the Lions' games against Ole Miss and Saint Louis, but returned against Morgan State on Dec. 27, just 15 days after surgery. It has been a tough season for Okonji, whose father passed away in Africa at the start of the season in November. The Lions bench is already thin due to redshirts to sophomore C.J. Blackwell (will apply for a medical redshirt at the end of the year), transfer Ben Dickinson (due to NCAA transfer rules) and freshman Taj Adams (coaches' decision). That leaves just seven scholarship players available for the Lions as conference play continues. Blackwell missed his fourth game of the season against Saint Louis due to the same knee issues that saw him miss the first three games of the season. With the issues remaining, he will miss the remainder of the season and Blackwell will look to appy for a medical redshirt at the end of the season.
INSIDE THE GAME
The Lions begin their second two-game road swing of the season, opening with WCC unbeaten San Diego on Wednesday as part of a Time Warner Cable SportsNet broadcast. San Diego and LMU will meet for the first time this season and for the 85th time in program history. The teams split the season series a year ago with both teams winning on the road. The Lions opened with a 79-68 win in San Diego on Jan. 7 and the Toreros knocked off the Lions at Gersten Pavilion on Feb. 23. The teams have split the last two season series with the series an even 5-5 in the last 10 meetings. San Diego, who has won four straight and is 7-2 at home this season, is one of the best on defense in the WCC allowing just 66.5 points per game and holding teams to 43.3 percent shooting overall and just 31.3 percent from three. Johnny Dee leads the team with 15.0 ppg, hitting 40-for-101 from three.
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