Lions Host Nation’s No. 1

The Lions host the number one team in the nation on Thursday.
Feb. 8, 2017

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LOS ANGELES - LMU men’s basketball just finished a stretch of games where they played six of the last eight on the road, including the last three in a row. They return home to host the number one team in the nation, unbeaten Gonzaga on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 pm. It is the first time the top-ranked team will play in Gersten Pavilion and just the third time the Lions have hosted the nation’s top team (1956 and 1978). The game can be seen on Spectrum SportsNet and out-of-market at TheW.tv. The game will also be live on KXLU 88.9 FM.

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GAME PREVIEW
Date | Time: Thursday, Feb. 9 | 7 pm
Where: Gersten Pavilion | Los Angeles, CA
Game Preview: LMU Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | GU Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
The Match-Up: LMU: ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATS
GON: ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATS
Live Broadcast: Spectrum SportsNet, ROOT NW/RM, CSN Bay Area | TheW.tv (out of market)
Radio: KXLU 88.9 FM | Listien Online
Live Stats: GAMETRACKER | StatBroadcast
GameDay Info: GAMEDAY CENTRAL | BUY TICKETS | COMING TO LMU

THE MATCH-UP

• Senior led LMU continues their season defined as the Cardiac Lions as they enter the week at 11-12 overall and 4-8 in the WCC after splitting a pair of games last week. Last week’s results broke the mold as they defeated San Diego by 19 and fell to USF by 10. On the season, the Lions have seen 11 of their 23 games decided in the last 10 seconds of the contest (record of 4-7). LMU has played 14 games decided by eight points or less, going 6-8 in those contests after the eight-point setback at BYU on Jan. 28, 85-77. LMU is 3-3 in one-point games, 1-2 in three-point games, the five-point setback against BYU (Dec. 31), the 79-73 win over the Tigers on Jan. 26, and 1-1 in seven-point games.

• Gonzaga’s resume is pretty self explanatory. Only unbeaten team in the nation at 24-0, sitting at 12-0 in the WCC. The Lions welcome top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga on Thursday, making it the first time Gersten Pavilion has hosted the top team in the nation. The only other times it happened on campus was when San Francisco came to town No. 1 in 1956 and 1978. Overall, this will be just the seventh time LMU has taken on the nation’s highest ranked team, last playing Gonzaga in the 2013 WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. Here is a look at the Lions against number one:

  • Feb. 3, 1956 at USF (L, 68-46)
  • Mar. 3, 1956 vs. USF (L, 65-48)
  • Jan. 15, 1977 at USF (L, 90-63)
  • Feb. 18, 1977 vs. USF (L, 104-65)
  • Nov. 15, 1989 at UNLV (L, 102-91)
  • Mar. 9, 2013 vs. Gonzaga (L, 66-48)

• This will be the 90th meeting between LMU and Gonzaga. The Zags won the first meeting in Spokane, 93-55 on Jan. 12.

INSIDE THE LIONS

• The Lions are 11-12, 4-8 on the season after the 72-53 win on Thursday over USD and the 74-64 setback to USF on Saturday. The weekend prior the also split a pair of games, both decided by eight points or less. Here is a look at some of the latest buzzer beaters from the Cardiac season for the Lions:
  • Dec. 10 - LMU 69, CSUN 68 - Stefan Jovanovic hits a put-back with nine seconds remaining and Lions defense deflects shot at the buzzer for road win.
  • Dec. 17 - LMU 91, UIW 90 (ot) - Down eight in second half, Lions hit 11 straight free throws to end regulation, and defense holds on two UIW shots at the buzzer.
  • Dec. 19 - LMU 69, CSU 66 - LMU erases 10 point deficit in final nine minutes as Brandon Brown hits three-pointer with 0.9 seconds left for road win.
  • Dec. 22 - UTA 80, LMU 77 - LMU trailed by 9 with 6:30 to play and a pair of three-pointers at buzzer don’t fall.
  • Dec. 31 - BYU 81, LMU 75 - LMU led by 10 with 9:01 to play but TJ Haws hit back-to-back three- pointers, the second coming with 36 seconds to play, gave the Cougars the 79-76 lead. LMU had a chance to tie with 10 seconds left but the shot was blocked.
  • Jan. 5 - Pepperdine 71, LMU 70 - LMU led by seven with 7:54 to play but Waves hit put-back with 1.6 left for one-point win.
  • Jan. 14 - LMU 79, Portland 78 - Down five with 55 seconds to play, the Lions forced back-to-back turnovers, got a jumper from Brandon Brown, an offensive put-back by Kelvin Amayo, the game-winner lay-up from Brown with five seconds left and a block by Shamar Johnson at the buzzer to pull out the win.
  • Jan. 21 - Santa Clara 64, LMU 63 - Jared Brownridge hit a 25-foot three-pointer with 2.6 seconds left to lift the Broncos to the thrilling win.

DEPTH: The Lions get the most out of their roster, using all 12 active players the last three games against BYU, USD and USF. They used 11 players in the win over Pacific on Jan. 26. They have had 11 different starting line-ups, and went back to the beginning the last two games, starting the first line-up they used on the season of Brandon Brown, Steven Haney, Buay Tuach, Shamar Johnson and Stefan Jovanovic... The Lions used “just” just nine players on Jan. 14 against Portland, just the second time they have used less than 10 in a game. They used nine players against No. 19 Saint Mary’s on Dec. 29. In conference they have used all 12 players six times, the other three include Dec. 31 against BYU, on Jan. 5 against Pepperdine and again Jan. 12 against Gonzaga... Brown led the Lions on Thursday against USD in points, rebounds, assists and steals. He is the eighth different Lions to lead the team in rebounding. They have had nine different players lead them in assists and seven different Lions have led the team in scoring. Jovanovic led the Lions with 13 rebounds against USF, the most by a Lion this season. It equalled a career-high for the senior.

SENIORS: Brandon Brown, Buay Tuach, Stefan Jovanovic, Shamar Johnson and Kelvin Amayo are the five seniors leading the way this season for the Lions. In addition, to his 18-point performance on Thursday where he hit a career-best 4-for-8 from three in leading the Lions in points (18), rebounds (6), assists (6) and steals (2), Brown had his sixth 20-point game of the season with 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting in the win over Pacific. Tuach led the Lions with a career 16 points and eight rebounds at USF.

• Brown leads the way at point, sitting is 13th in scoring (13.7 ppg) and 7th in assists (4.5 apg). He is also 5th in steals per game (1.2), 13th in three-pointer percentage (39.8), 15th in three-pointers made per game (1.6), and 6th in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1). Tuach continues to do a little of everything for the Lions. He ranks 21st in scoring (11.9 ppg), 10th in shooting (52.5%), 7th in three-point shooting (41.8%), and 4th in steals (1.3 spg). He is on a career-setting pace, he had 96 points all of 2015-16. He has 272 through 23 games this year.

• Senior Shamar Johnson has been a consistent force in the paint for the Lions. He scored 10 points with six rebounds and a career-best six assists against BYU in the first meeting. He went for 12 points and eight rebounds in the win over Santa Clara at home and led the Lions with a career-equalling nine rebounds in win over Portland, adding 11 points. The Pensacola, Fla., native has become a leader for the Lions and is having his best season with 8.3 ppg and 4.9 rpg. He is 11th with 1.8 offensive rebounds per game.

• Rounding out the LMU senior class is a pair of transfers. Stefan Jovanovic scored in double figures the last seven non-conference games, including a pair of career-highs in the process. He is averaging 8.7 ppg and 5.2 rpg. He is ranked 18th in the WCC in rebounding, ranked 5th in offensive rebounds at 2.3 and 7th in blocks at 1.1. The final senior in the rotation, Kelvin Amayo, who was granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA, has been a big presence off the bench. In 17.9 minutes a game he is averaging 5.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.64 apg, and 0.86 spg. He had nine points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal against Santa Clara on Jan. 7, and had a big offensive put-back in the final 30 seconds to help Lions in comeback win over Portland.

NUMBERS… Junior Steven Haney Jr., a 2016 WCC All-Academic Selection and NABC Allstate Good Works team nominee, hit three three-pointers last week, giving him 116 three-pointers in his career, ranking 13th all-time in LMU history. He needs three more to tie for 12th with Charles Brown (2001-05). He is ranked 10th in the WCC with 1.9 three-pointers per game... The Lions 14 steals against BYU on Jan. 28 was a season-high, and second best in the WCC this season. The 23 forced turnovers was also the most on the season... LMU had six more steals in each game against USD and USF, forcing them into 10 and 18 turnovers, respectively. Against the Torreros, they only turned it over six times themselves to equal a season low (Jan. 7 vs. Santa Clara). They had 18 against USF... The 53 points allowed to San Diego on Feb. 2 was one of 11 times the Lions have held an opponent under 70 points. They are 8-3 in those games... In addition, they held the USD to 39.1 percent from the field the 12th opponent the Lions held to under 45% shooting in a game, improving to 10-2 in those games. The Lions are 10-1 when shooting better than their opponent, 9-3 when out-rebounding the opponent, out-rebounding both USD, 30-25, and USF, 39-38, last week.

• The Lions shot 53.1 percent from the field on the Feb. 2 win over USD, hitting over 50 percent for the sixth time this season. They went better than 50% from the field in back-to-back games, hitting 52.3 percent against Boise State after going for a season-best 57.4 percent in the win over Portland State. It is the first time the Lions have posted back-to-back games over 50 percent since December of 2009. LMU shot 50 percent or better just twice all of last year.

MORE NUMBERS… The 19-point win over USD on the road in WCC play was largest margin of victory in a WCC game since beating San Diego by 23 points, 87-64, on January 30, 1998, and the most on the road since defeating Portland 128-96 on Feb. 2, 1991... The 48 second half points against Pacific on Jan. 26 was the most in that half on the season. The 79 total points equaled their high in conference games this season, scoring 79 in the win over Portland... The seven blocked shots in the win was the second most on the year. They had nine against UIW on Dec. 17... The 48-point win to open the season was tied for the sixth largest in program history, equaling the Lions 78-31 win over San Diego on Dec. 10, 1958... The Lions scored 57 points in the first 20 minutes against Vanguard, the most in the opening half since the 1991 season... In the second half, LMU held Vanguard to just 17 points, limiting them to just 5-for-35 from the field and 1-for-18 from the three. It was the lowest half by an opponent since the Lions held Seattle to just 11 first half points in an 83-51 win on Nov. 23, 1996... They had 59 rebounds in that game, the most since they had 61 against Pacifica on Nov. 9, 2012.

AGAISNT THE RANKED Thursday’s match-up will be the third game against a ranked opponent on the season. The match-up with No. 19 Saint Mary’s on Dec. 29, 2016, was the first ranked opponent for the Lions since Feb. 12, 2015 when the Lions face No. 2/3 Gonzaga. The Lions faced three ranked opponents in the 2014-15 season, including No. 14 Wichita State at the Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 22 and No. 3 Gonzaga in the first meeting. The Lions are 4-14 in their last 18 games against ranked opponents. The other ranked match-up was against the fifth-ranked Zags on Jan. 12, and it was the 21st time the Lions have taken on a top-10 opponent since LMU opened Gersten Pavilion on Jan. 15, 1982. Since that date, the Lions have faced a top-10 opponent 20 times, just six at Hanks House. Their only win in that stretch came against Gonzaga on Feb. 18, 2010 when they were ranked No. 9.

COMING UP

The Lions will return home for Family Weekend. The precursor to the weekend will be a showdown with No. 1 Gonzaga on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 pm. On Saturday, join the Lions for the annual Family Weekend Game Day Experience as the Lions take on Portland at 1 pm. The activities start with the annual Tailgate Party at 11 am. For more information, visit LMULions.com.

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