Portland Match-up Starts Welcome Back Week
After four straight away from Gersten Pavilion, the Lions return for a pair at home, starting with Portland.
Jan. 15, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- LMU men's basketball hits the midway point of their stretch of games that has them playing seven of nine away from Gersten Pavilion. The Lions (10-8, 2-4) return home after a four-game stint on the road for the two games at home for Welcome Back Week. It starts on Thursday with Portland on WCC Represent Vegas night at 7 pm. The Pilots (10-7, 2-3) are coming off their win over Gonzaga to end a five-game homestand. The game can be seen on TheW.tv and heard on KXLU 88.8 FM.
INSIDE THE LIONS
Senior Anthony Ireland continues to pace the Lions in all areas of the floor, puttng the final marks on his record-setting career. Thursday's game against Portland will be his 119th as a Lion, not missing a game in his career. He will equal Terrell Lowery's all-time mark against the Pilots. This all coming in a season where he set a career-high with 34 points against Santa Clara and then set the LMU record for career starts with his 110th against San Diego on Jan. 9, just the fourth player to start more than 100 in his career. He is on fire of late, going 25-for-45 (55.6 percent) from the field in the last two games. It was his third career game with 30 or more points and his 38th 20-point game. With 341 points (ranked 17th in the NCAA as of Jan. 12), 98 assists (ranked 20th) and 30 steals (ranked 75th) in 2013-14, Ireland is four points from Jeff Fryer's 1,922 points, which is sixth all-time in LMU history. He also moved to fourth with 482 career assists and with two steals on Saturday against BYU, he moved to fourth all-time with 177 career steals.
The Lions enter the week second behind Pacific in the WCC and 12th in the NCAA hitting 75.9 percent on the season from the free throw line. Free throws played a key role in the last four games as Santa Clara went 24-for-27 (88.9 percent), hitting 22 of 23 in the second half and overtime. San Diego hit 20 of 22 free throws in the second half to overcome a halftime deficit and finished 23-for-29 (79.3%) for the game. And in the final game of the road swing, BYU went 30-for-38 (78.9%), hitting 19-for-25 in the second half. In the four games, opponents went 94-for-122 (77.0%) from the charity stripe, while LMU was 54-for-74 (73.0 percent). It was a drastic difference to the prior four wins in the four-game homestand as the Lions went 74-for-90 (82.2 percent) while opponents were 45-for-62 (72.6 percent).
The Lions have had double-digit offensive rebounds in 14 of the 18 games on the season and are second in the West Coast Conference with 13.1 per game. They went for 13 offensive boards in outrebounding Santa Clara 41-36. The Lions had a season-high 20 offensive rebounds good for 23 second chance points in the win over UC Riverside. They equalled that total with 20 against La Sierra, going for a season-high 25 second chance points. Against Long Beach State the Lions had 19 offensive boards and held a 45-30 edge on the glass. They used five of their 19 offensive rebounds in the final minute to get the win at LBSU. Freshman Gabe Levin is sevent overall in rebounding at 7.7 rpg, and is fourth in the WCC with 2.8 offensive rebounds per game.
Freshman Evan Payne led the Lions with 27 points against BYU in the first meeting, posting his second straight career-high (24 points against La Sierra). The point total is tied for the fourth best by a freshman in LMU History. It is also the most ever by an LMU freshman in his first WCC game and the third-most by an LMU player in his conference debut. Payne now has 254 points on the season and is ranked 14th all-time for freshman scoring in a season.
Freshman Gabe Levin went for his fourth double-double in his young career with 14 points and 14 rebounds at Pittsburgh and is one of just five freshman to have multiple double-doubles in their debut season, and his four so far this season is now tied for the most in program history (Kevin Young - 4 - `08-09; Orlando Johnson - 3 - `07-08; Andy Osborn - 3 - `01-02; Luther Philyaw - 2 - `72-73). He has grabbed 14 rebounds in a single game three times already this season. Heading into the game with the Pilots, Levin has 122 rebounds and is ranked eighth all-time for a freshman.
The Lions have had more turnovers than their opponents just three times in 18 games this season, giving it away just seven times to open WCC play against the Cougars. They are averaging just 12.44 turnovers per game this season and rank fourth in the WCC in turnover margin at +1.28. The Lions have averaged under 13 turnovers a game just twice in program history. They averaged just 12.97 in 2009-10 and set the record in 1983-84 at 11.98 per game.
Three Lions average double figures, led by senior Anthony Ireland at 18.9 ppg, ranking second in the WCC and 54th nationally. The next two in double figures are freshman. Evan Payne is 12th in the WCC and second on the team with 14.1 ppg. Fellow freshman Gabe Levin is third on the team at 10.9 ppg. Through 18 games, the Lions are averaging 77.1 points per game (5th in the WCC). The last time the Lions averaged over 75 points a game in a season was in 2009-10 at 75.8 ppg. They averaged 75.9 in 1998-99, 79.0 in 1993-94, and 91.1 in 1991-92. The all-time record is 122.4 ppg in that 1989-90 Elite Eight season.