Conference Rivalry Renewed Thursday
LMU continues conference play with the second Bay Area road swing, starting with Pacific.
Jan. 22, 2014
Nick Stover interviews Alex Osborne">
LOS ANGELES -- A conference rivalry that originally started in 1954 will be renewed this week for LMU men's basketball as the 2014 conference portion of the schedule continues with the Lions heading to Pacific on Thursday, Jan. 23. Pacific, who rejoined the West Coast Conference this season, is 10-7 on the season and 1-5 in the WCC while the Lions are 10-10 and 2-6. Tip-off is set for 7 pm and can be seen on TheW.tv and heard on KXLU 88.9 FM.
Pacific and LMU played each other at least twice a year from 1954 through 1971 as members of the WCAC, playing in 39 of the 48 meetings all-time. They have played in just nine games since, with Pacific earning an 86-76 win in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament on March 17, 2010. The win evened the series up at 24-24. Pacific is 10-7 on the season and 1-5 in the WCC, defeating Santa Clara at home on Jan. 11 while falling to Saint Mary's twice and on the road at Portland and Gonzaga.
INSIDE THE LIONS
Senior Anthony Ireland continues to pace the Lions in all areas of the floor, putting the final marks on his record-setting career. Saturday's game against Gonzaga was his 120th as a Lion, not missing a game in his career and setting the all-time games played record at LMU (breaking Terrell Lowery's all-time mark of 119). 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 against San Diego on Jan. 9, just the fourth player to start more than 100 in his career. He has started 113 in his career. Against SCU, it was his third career game with 30 or more points and his 38th 20-point game. With 368 points (ranked 19th in the NCAA as of Jan. 19), 111 assists (ranked 19th) and 34 steals (ranked 69th) in 2013-14, Ireland surpasses Jeff Fryer for sixth all-time in LMU history with 1,944 points. He also moved to fourth with 495 career assists and with two steals on Saturday, he tied Charles Brown (2001-05) for third all-time with 181 career steals. He needs just five assists to join Terrell Lowery as the only player in LMU history with at least 1,500 points, 500 assists and 150 steals in his career. There are only three active players in the NCAA that have those numbers (Kendall Williams - New Mexico; Chaz Williams - UMass; Shabazz Napier - UConn).
While Ireland has been a mainstay in the Lions' line-up the last four seasons, playing short-handed is nothing new for the Lions in the six seasons under Head Coach Max Good. Junior Chase Flint, who had played in 42 games as a Lion with 24 starts, suffered a broken elbow against Portland on Thursday and will be out the rest of the season. He is the third former starter and fourth major contributor to be lost for the season in 2013-14. In addition, sophomore transfer Ben Dickinson missed the game on Saturday against Gonzaga and remains out indefinitely due to personal reasons. Combined with freshman Patson Siame's year of residency, the Lions will play this weekend with just seven scholarship players. Entering Thursday's game, key players have missed 51 games this season due to injury, including Godwin Okonji (leg suffered in car accident prior to practice on Oct. 20, see LMULions.com for more) for the entire season (20 games), senior Ayodeji Egbeyemi (hip) the last 12 games, and freshman Nino Jackson (ankle) the last 16 games, all of whom the Lions will look at applying for a medical redshirt following the season. Freshman Gabe Levin also missed two games with a shoulder injury. The Lions have had seven starting line-ups this year, second only to Good's first season in 2008-09 for fewest line-ups. A year ago the Lions had 10 different starting line-ups as key players missed 30 games. In 2011-12 when they won 21 games, the Lions featured 11 starting line-ups but had key players miss just 25 games, the fewest in Good's tenure. In 2010-11 they had 15 line-ups with players missing 63 games. In 2009-10 in which the Lions had 18 wins, they had 10 line-ups with the second fewest missed games, 26. And in his first season, the Lions were down to six scholarship players at one point and key players missed 68 games.
The Lions enter the week second behind Pacific in the WCC and 13th in the NCAA (as of Jan. 19) hitting 75.6 percent on the season from the free throw line. Free throws played a key role in five of the last six 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 away from Gersten, 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 16 of the 20 games on the season, including 18 against Portland Thursday on 15 against Gonzaga on Saturday. Senior Alex Osborne had 12 of his 21 rebounds on the offensive side on the week. The Lions moved back to No. 1 in the WCC with 13.5 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 eighth overall in rebounding at 7.4 and Osborne is 18th at 5.5 rpg. Levin is fourth in the WCC with 2.7 offensive rebounds per game while Osborne is 15th at 2.1.
Speaking of Osborne, he has been a force on the glass of late as he wraps up a blue-collar type career. He played in his 113th game against Gonzaga on Saturday, tying with three others for eighth all-time. He is on pace to finish second all-time behind teammate Anthony Ireland for games played in a career. And as his career wraps-up, he has been leading the Lions on the glass since WCC play began. In the last nine games he is averaging 8.6 rebounds per contest (77 total), including the Lions' first 15-15 games since 2009. Osborne, who is fourth in WCC games at 7.5 rpg and 18th overall at 5.5 rpg overall, scored 20 points with 17 rebounds, eight of which were offensive, in the win over La Sierra. It was the first 15-15 game by a Lion since Dec. 28, 2009. He went 8-for-10 from the field, had two assists, two steals and a block in the win. Osborne is also ranked 11th in the WCC with 1.2 spg. His 102 career steals is ranked 23rd all-time in LMU history.
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, who scored a team-high 19 against Gonzaga last Saturday, now has 287 points on the season and is ranked 10th 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 Pacific, Levin has 133 rebounds and is ranked eighth all-time for a freshman.
The Lions have had more turnovers than their opponents just three times in 20 games this season, giving it away just seven times to open WCC play against the Cougars. They had 10 steals and forced Portland into 17 turnovers to just 13 of their own on Thursday, then forced Gonzaga into 15 turnovers on nine steals. LMU, who had nine turnovers in the first half, finished with just 12. They are averaging just 12.45 turnovers per game this season and rank third in the WCC in turnover margin at +1.50. 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.