Ultimate Road Test on Saturday
Men's basketball faces Gonzaga for second-place battle in WCC play.
Feb. 10, 2012
The LMU men's basketball team will send their perfect conference road record to the toughest place to play in the West Coast Conference, and one of the toughest in the nation, when they travel to Gonzaga on Saturday, Feb. 11. Gonzaga (19-4, 9-2) is 12-1 at home this season and sits in second place in the WCC after defeating No. 13 Saint Mary's Thursday. They lead the Lions (16-9, 9-3) by a half a game, who improved to 8-2 on the road (6-0 in the WCC) with a win at Portland. Game time is 5 pm, and can be heard on KXLU 88.9 FM and through LMULions.com.
GAME: LMU (16-9, 9-3) at Gonzaga (19-4, 9-2)
INSIDE THE LIONS
LMU improved to 9-3 in the WCC, 16-9 overall, with their fourth consecutive win, a 76-62 victory on the road at Portland on Thursday. The nine conference wins is the most since the 1990-91 season when the Lions won their last nine WCC games. In addition, the Lions won their sixth straight road game, improving to 6-0 in the WCC away from home. It matches the 90-91 team for the most consecutive road wins (overall), four shy of the 1987-88 program record of 10 straight road wins. The six straight WCC road wins is the most since that 87-88 team went a perfect 14-0 in WCC play.
LMU enters Thursday's game ranked 17th in the NCAA Division I National Rankings in three-point field goal defense, holding opponents to a league low 29.0 percent from long range overall and 26.6 percent in WCC games. The Lions have held 13 teams under 30 percent for the game, including BYU's 2-for-25 (8 percent), Pepperdine's 2-for-15 effort on Thursday (13.3 percent) as well as Gonzaga and Portland to 15.4 percent (2-for-13). In non-conference they held UCLA to 13.3 percent and North Texas' to 15.8 percent.
The Lions lead the WCC in free throw percentage, hitting 73.2 percent after going 21-for-25 (84 percent) against San Francisco, 14-for-15 in the second half alone. The Lions' top-six scorers hit better than 74 percent, including LaRon Armstead's 85.5 percent, which is ranked second in the WCC. As of games on Feb. 9, Armstead ranks 45th in the NCAA Division I National Rankings. He went six-for-six, all in the final minute of the Lions win over Pepperdine. Anthony Ireland is 12th in the WCC at 76.4 percent. In the Lions two wins at BYU and at Santa Clara, free throws came in big as they hit 15-for-16 in the final minute of play (7-for-8 at BYU; 8-for-8 at SCU). The Lions are ranked 47th out of 338 teams in NCAA Division I.
The Lions will put their 8-2 road record to the test with its toughest road swing of the season as they continue their three-game road swing at Gonzaga and at No. 16 Saint Mary's. The Lions have won six in a row on the road, all in WCC play, and the eight road wins is the most since 11 road wins in the 1989-90 season when the Lions advanced to the Elite Eight under Head Coach Paul Westhead.
The Lions had five players score in double figures, all within six points of each other, in the 14-point win at Portland Thursday, including a 10-point, nine-rebound effort from sophomore Godwin Okonji. The Lions have four players, led by senior Drew Viney with 15.7 points per contest in 15 games. Sophomore Anthony Ireland is second on the team with 15.1 points per games while ranking fourth in the WCC. Ashley Hamilton returned to the line-up against San Diego on Jan. 7, and in 13 games, he is averaging 11.0 points and 5.4 rebounds. Junior Jarred DuBois, who has missed five games this season, is averaging 10.9 points.
More numbers: The Lions' 60-point second half in the comeback win over San Francisco on Feb. 4 was the most points in a single half since they scored 69 in the second half against USC on Nov. 30, 1993. The Lions hit 11 three-pointers in that win, and with another 10 against Portland Thursday, the Lions have hit 21-for-39 from three the last two games (53.8 percent). They have hit double-digit three-pointers six times this season, ranking fourth in the WCC with 6.8 three-pointers. The Lions improved to 8-1 on the season when they hit at least seven. Heading into the season, the last time they hit 10 or more three-pointers in a game was 10 against USF on Jan. 14, 2010. The 11 made is the most since hitting 12 against Mercer on Nov. 24, 2007.... The Lions are 12-1 when leading at the half (7-1 in WCC), 11-1 (6-0) when outrebounding their opponent, 16-3 (9-1) when shooting better than 40 percent, 8-1 (4-0) when holding their opponent to less than 40 percent, and 12-0 (6-0) when scoring 70 or more points.
The Lions have played in three overtime games in a season for the first time since 2007-08, winning all three. It is the first time in program history the Lions have won three overtime games in a single season.
Injuries once again have forced change in the Lions starting five as the Lions have started nine different line-ups. Three of the Lions' top-seven - top scorers Jarred DuBois, Drew Viney and Ashley Hamilton - have combined to miss 27 games this season. The Lions have found some consistency, starting the same five the last seven games (record of 6-1) and have now played seven games with their top-seven, improving to 6-1 after the win over Portland. In 2010-11, LMU's top-seven missed 66 games as the Lions featured 16 different starting line-ups... Junior Jarred DuBois missed two games (La Sierra, North Texas) due to soreness in his foot and then three more games (at Pep, Gonzaga, at BYU) after suffering a concussion against San Diego on Jan. 7... Junior Ashley Hamilton, who was the Lions' leading scorer after three games, suffered an injury to his right foot against Harvard and missed the next 12 games... Senior Drew Viney missed 10 of the Lions' first 12 games after a stress fracture in his foot the week prior to the start of the season in October. He returned to the line-up full-time against Vanguard on Dec. 27... Prior to the team's departure to San Francisco Dec. 31, redshirt sophomore Edgar Garibay asked for and was granted his release from the LMU men's basketball program.
This will be the 79th meeting between Gonzaga and LMU and the second since Gonzaga pulled out a 62-58 nail-biter at Gersten Pavilion on Jan. 14. How tough a test will the Lions road streak be under? The Lions have won just six times in Spokane, the last coming in 1992, a streak of 22 games. Its not just LMU has struggled in Spokane. Gonzaga has lost just seven times since the McCarthey Athletic Center opened in 2004, twice to conference opponents. In the first meeting, Ashley Hamilton led the Lions with 16 points, while LaRon Armstead added 14 and Anthony Ireland 11. Trailing 58-57, the Lions would have a shot at the lead as Alex Osborne, who finished with four points and six rebounds, grabbed the defensive rebound. However, Viney's shot was short of the front of the rim with 44 seconds left. With the shot clock near zero, Elias Harris score with a reverse lay-in with seven seconds on the clock that gave the Zags a 60-57 lead. Gonzaga would foul Ireland, who made the first and missed the second on purpose. Pargos got the rebound, then hit two free throws with 1.5 seconds left.
AT THE POINT
Sophomore Anthony Ireland started the season scoring 22 or more points in four of five games, and with his 25 points Jan. 26 in the win over Santa Clara, he now has eight games with 20 or more on the season and 10 in his young career. He is one of two Lions to play every game this season (Ayodeji Egbeyemi is the other) and he is second in the WCC in minutes played at 36.2 per game. He enters the week ranked fourth in the WCC in scoring at 15.1 points per game. He was named WCC Player of the Week on Jan. 24 after his 27-point effort in the win over BYU. He is third in the WCC with 4.9 assists per game and became just the second Lion since 1998 to earn a double-double with points and assists when he did it against Vanguard (14 pts, 10 assists). He had 21 assists in the final two non-conference games, going for a career-high 11 against Morgan State on Dec. 21. According to records, its is the most in back-to-back games since Terrell Lowery in 1990. He now has 217 career assists to rank 18th all-time at LMU. He also has 40 steals on the season (1.6 spg), to rank fourth in the WCC.
LaRon Armstead continues to show why he is the Lions' senior leader, and on Thrusday he became the 30th player in LMU history to appear in 100 games in his career. He came off the bench to score 22 points against then #23 Saint Louis, becoming a mainstay in the Lions' rotation since. He went for double figures in six of seven games before the Morgan State game, and has returned to that form in the WCC, going for 14 in the win over Pepperdine. Against the Waves he hit a big three-pointer for a 57-51 lead late, and then after the Waves cut the lead to five, he grabbed three straight defensive rebounds. He is fifth on the team with 9.0 points per game while adding 2.8 rebounds, and 16 steals. He has hit 26 three-pointers is tied for third on the squad.
Redshirt senior Drew Viney entered 2011-12 needing just a single point to become the 31st player in LMU history to reach 1,000 career points. After having to miss the first six games due to a stress fracture in his foot, it took exactly 12 seconds in his first game back against Columbia to hit the century mark. Viney knocked down a 12-foot jumper to become the 31st player in school history to reach a 1,000 points. After missing three more games due to soreness in the foot, he returned to the line-up against Vanguard, scoring 29 points with eight rebounds. He had his 11th career double-double in the win over Pepperdine, which ranks tied for 12th at LMU. He enters Saturday's game averaging 15.7 points, 5.4 rebounds with 15 blocks, 13 steals and 24 assists in 15 games. His career numbers are starting to add up. Here is where he ranks in the LMU career record books as of Feb. 10: 20th with 1,235 points 15th with 16.7 ppg 22nd with 428 made field goals 27th with 927 field goal attempts 9th with 127 three-pointers made 11th with 304 three-pointer attempts 3rd with a 41.8 three-point field goal percentage 23rd with 252 free throws made 18th with a 79.7 free throw percentage 26th with 484 rebounds 5th with 79 blocks. He needs 16 more rebounds to become the 13th LMU player with 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.
LMU men's basketball has been selected to be featured in one of the 13 nationally televised games on the ESPN Networks for the 10th Annual Sears BracketBusters. The Lions will host Valparaiso on Friday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. The game will air nationally on ESPNU. Sears BracketBusters will feature 13 nationally televised games across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 selected from 142 eligible teams - the largest pool in the event's history. ESPNU will air five games; ESPN2 and ESPN3 each have two exclusive; and four flex options to be televised on ESPN or ESPN2 (determined approximately one week before the game). This year's television package consists of teams from 14 conferences, including five from the Missouri Valley; three from the Colonial Athletic Conference and Mid-American Conference; and two from Horizon League, Summit League, Western Athletic Conference and WCC. The Lions enter the week with an RPI of 110. The Crusaders, who play in the Horizon League, have an RPI of 106 as of Feb. 6. The game will be part of the 2012 Centennial Family Weekend, with a full slate of activities scheduled within LMU athletics. The game itself is the 2012 Centennial Game as the Lions will wear the Centennial Gold Uniforms. It will also feature the ASLMU Pregame Tailgate at 4 p.m.
The Lions have found success in the big games under Head Coach Max Good. The Lions are 3-3 against ranked opponents the last three season under Good. The games against UCLA and Florida State were the eighth and ninth time under Head Coach Max Good the Lions played a team from the "BCS" conferences. The Lions are 3-6 in those meetings, defeating USC (67-59), Notre Dame (87-85) and now UCLA (69-58), all on the road. In addition, Good has led the Lions to more road wins than any head coach since Paul Westhead. At 8-2 this season, the Lions have the most road wins since the Westhead era.
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