Final Road Trip Begins in Portland
Lions head to the Pacific Northwest, starting with Portland on Thursday.
Feb. 12, 2014
Anthony Ireland and Evan Payne">
LOS ANGELES -- LMU men's basketball will head to the Pacific Northwest for their final regular season road trip of 2014, starting with the University of Portland on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7 pm. The Pilots (13-11, 5-7) have not played since Wednesday, Feb. 5 where they fell to Gonzaga in Spokane, while the Lions (11-14, 3-10) are coming off the homestand last weekend. The game can be seen on TheW.tv and heard on KXLU 88.9 FM.
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, putting himself in even more elite company in the LMU record book. He has not missed a game in his career, playing in his school record 125th against Pacific while earning his 118th start, also a record. With his running lay-in with about five minutes to play against the Gaels, Ireland passed Bo Kimble for fourth all-time in LMU history in all-time scoring. He finished with 13 points against the Gaels and 17 against Pacific to put him at 2,039 points heading into the game against Portland. As of Feb. 9 he is second in the league at 18.5 ppg (71st nationally), second in assists at 5.44 (39th nationally) and second in steals at 1.72. With 463 points (ranked 35th in the NCAA as of Feb. 9), 136 assists (ranked 25th) and 43 steals (ranked 66th) in 2013-14, Ireland also passed Jim Williamson for third with 520 career assists and Mike for second all-time with 190 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 495 heading into the game against Portland.
The Lions enter the week second behind Pacific in the WCC and 7th in the NCAA (as of Feb. 9) hitting 76.0 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). They went 13-for-16 in the last meeting against Pacific. The all-time school record was set in 2002 at 77.7 percent.
The Lions have had more turnovers than their opponents just six times in 25 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 in the win over Pacific, 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 12.60 turnovers per game this season while leading the league in steals at 7.28 per game. LMU ranks third in the WCC in turnover margin at +1.16. 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 in the first meeting on Jan. 23, 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. After 17 against Saint Mary's and 18 against the Tigers Saturday, Payne now has 369 points on the season and is tied with Bill Donovan for fifth all-time for freshman scoring in a season. His 14.8 ppg is ranked 10th in the WCC and would set the LMU freshman record for ppg in a season.
Freshman Gabe Levin went for his freshman record fifth double-double against Pacific on Jan. 23 with 12 points and 10 rebounds, his first since his 14 points and 14 rebounds at Pittsburgh. He has been on a torrid pace since, averaging 13.2 ppg and just under eight rebounds per contest the last five games. 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 Portland, Levin has 172 rebounds and is ranked second all-time for a freshman. In addition, he has 29 blocks on the year, ranking 5th in blocks at 1.3 bpg within the WCC. His rebound average of 7.5 is ranked seventh in the WCC and would also set the LMU freshman record of rpg in a season.
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 weekend with just seven scholarship players. Entering the Portland game, key players have missed 71 games this season due to injury, including Flint's six games, Godwin Okonji (leg suffered in car accident prior to practice on Oct. 20, see LMULions.com for more) for the entire season (25 games), senior Ayodeji Egbeyemi (hip) the last 17 games, and freshman Nino Jackson (ankle) the last 21 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 eight 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.
A Grand Finale: Senior Anthony Ireland enters his final season all over the record books at LMU with the projection to do even more. He enters the season as a Preseason All-WCC selection and is:
The Next Step - LA Times
2014 Senior CLASS Award Candidate
Watch-list for the Bob Cousy Award
Preseason Lou Henson Award All-American
WCC Best Player Selection (sbnation and College Hoops Journal)
One of nation's most unknow top players (CBS)
LMU Magazine: "Ice Man"
College Hoops Daily