Road Stint Closes with PCH Rival
Men's basketball to travel to Pepperdine on Saturday, Feb. 1.
Jan. 31, 2014
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- LMU men's basketball returns to Southern California but will have one more road game to conclude their current road stint when they travel to Pepperdine on Saturday, Feb. 1 for the first of two Wells Fargo PCH Cup battles. The two rivals will meet for the 159th time, the longest running series in LMU history. Game time is set for 3 pm and the game can be seen on Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Comcast SportsNet. It will also be live on KXLU 88.9 FM.
THE MATCH-UP WELLS FARGO PCH CUP
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. He has not missed a game in his career, playing in his school record 122nd against Saint Mary's while earning his 115th start, also a record. He had his 39th 20-point game with his 24 against Pacific, adding his third 30-point game with 34 points against Santa Clara on Jan. 4. As of Jan. 31 he is second in the league at 18.6 ppg (62nd nationally), second in assists at 5.6 (29th nationally) and second in steals at 1.86 (71st). With 409 points (ranked 31th in the NCAA as of Jan. 31), 124 assists (ranked 20th) and 41 steals (ranked 52nd) in 2013-14, Ireland surpasses Kieth Smith for 5th all-time in LMU history with 1,985 points. He also moved past Jim Williamson for third with 508 career assists and is third all-time with 188 career steals. He joins 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). None of them, including Lowery, have 500 career rebounds. Ireland is at 486 heading into Saturday against the Waves.
The Lions enter the week second behind Pacific in the WCC and 8th in the NCAA (as of Jan. 31) hitting 76.2 percent on the season from the free throw line. They raised their season number by nearly a percent after the season-high 31-for-37 effort against Pacific (the most since going 32-for-40 against CS Fullerton in the CIT on Mar. 14, 2012). Free throws played a key role in seven of the last nine 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 first 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 in the Lions' last five wins, going 105-for-127 (82.6 percent) while opponents were 62-for-83 (74.6 percent).
The Lions have had more turnovers than their opponents just four times in 21 games this season, giving it away just seven times to open WCC play against the Cougars and then a season-low six in the win over Pacific on Jan. 23 (the fewest since five against Portland Jan. 12, 2013). They then had a season-high 19 against the Gaels. While taking care of the ball on Thursday, the Lions' rarely-used zone had 11 blocks, forced 11 Pacific turnovers on eight steals that led to an 18-6 edge in points off turnovers. The Lions are averaging just 12.45 turnovers per game this season while leading the league in steals at 7.45 per game. LMU ranks third in the WCC in turnover margin at +1.41. 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.
Freshman Evan Payne led the Lions with 25 points against Pacific, second only to his 27 points against BYU in the first meeting. The 27 points is tied for the fourth best by a freshman in LMU History and his 25 is tied for eighth. The BYU game was the first of conference, making the point total 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 321 points on the season and is ranked ninth all-time for freshman scoring in a season. His 14.6 ppg is ranked 11th in the WCC.
Freshman Gabe Levin went for his freshman record fifth double-double on Thursday against Pacific with 12 points and 10 rebounds, his first since his 14 points and 14 rebounds at Pittsburgh. He is one of just five freshman to have multiple double-doubles in their debut season at LMU. He has grabbed 14 rebounds in a single game three times already this season. Heading into the game against Pepperdine, Levin has 149 rebounds and is ranked sixth all-time for a freshman. In addition, he added seven blocks in two games last week, five blocks against the Tigers, giving 23 on the year. He is ranked 7th in rebounding at 7.5 rpg and 6th in blocks at 1.2 bpg.
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 Jan. 16 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 Jan. 18 against Gonzaga and remains out indefinitely due to personal reasons. Combined with freshman Patson Siame's year of residency, the Lions will play this Saturday with just seven scholarship players. Entering the Pepperdine game, key players have missed 59 games this season due to injury, including Flint's three games, Godwin Okonji (leg suffered in car accident prior to practice on Oct. 20, see LMULions.com for more) for the entire season (22 games), senior Ayodeji Egbeyemi (hip) the last 14 games, and freshman Nino Jackson (ankle) the last 18 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.