Feb. 22, 2012
LMU men's basketball enters the final two games of the regular season in the thick of the race at the top of the West Coast Conference, starting with a crucial battle with surging San Diego at Gersten Pavilion on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. The Lions are a game behind BYU and Gonzaga for second in the WCC, and two behind Saint Mary's. Follow the game live online through Lions' All-Access at LMULions.com and on KXLU 88.9 FM.
INSIDE THE LIONS
LMU improved to 18-10 overall on the season with a 61-53 win over Valparaiso in the Sears BracketBusters on Feb. 17. It is the Lions best record since going 18-9 in the first 27 games in the 1995-96 season. LMU enters Thursday's game at 10-4 in the West Coast Conference with its 75-60 win over No. 16 Saint Mary's last week. It was the Lions third win in five tries over a ranked opponent this season and gives the Lions its most wins in WCC play since the Elite Eight team in 1989-90 (who went 13-1).
The Lions are coming off a stretch of four games in nine days, and Anthony Ireland was a big reason they went 3-1 in that stint, which included three straight on the road and two in the RPI's top-30. Ireland scored a game-high 19 points with eight rebounds and five assists against Valpo, adding to the 16 points and seven assists he had at Saint Mary's to earn his second WCC Player of the Week of the season. In the Lions' last four games he averaged 18.3 points, five assists and five rebounds. Ireland is second in the WCC with 15.5 points per game and fourth with 4.8 assists per game.
LMU entered the week ranked 15th in the NCAA Division I National Rankings in three-point field goal defense, and are now holding opponents to a league low 29.1 percent from long range overall and 26.6 percent in WCC games after limiting Saint Mary's to 21.4 percent. The Lions have held 14 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 73.1 percent. The Lions' top-six scorers hit better than 73 percent, including LaRon Armstead's 85.5 percent, which is second in the WCC. As of games on Feb. 12, Armstead ranks 44th 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 9th in the WCC at 77.4 percent. The Lions entered the week ranked 54th out of 338 teams in NCAA Division I.
The win at Saint Mary's improved the Lions to 7-1 on the road in WCC play and 9-3 overall away from home. Its the best conference road record since going 6-1 in that 1989-90 season, and the seven wins matches the raod win total of the 1987-88 team, who went 14-0 in league play. In addition, Lions finish the regular season at 9-3 on the road, its best road record since winning 11 games in that Elite Eight season. Included in that record was a six-game road winning streak, matching the 1990-'91 team for the most consecutive road wins (overall).
The Lions had its top four scorers on the season all go for double figures in the win over Saint Mary's. Fifth-year senior Drew Viney leads the Lions with 15.9 points per contest in 18 games, leading the Lions with 17 Wednesday. Sophomore Anthony Ireland is second on the team with 15.5 points per game while ranking third in the WCC. Ashley Hamilton had 11 against Saint Mary's and 12 against Valpo for an average of 10.5 in 16 games. Junior Jarred DuBois, who had 15 against the Gaels, is averaging 10.3 points.
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, they have hit double-digit three-pointers six times this season, ranking fifth in the WCC with 6.7 three-pointers. The Lions hit seven against Saint Mary's and improve to 9-2 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.
MORE NUMBERS: The Lions are 14-1 when leading at the half (8-1 in WCC), 12-1 (6-0) when outrebounding their opponent, 18-3 (10-1) when shooting better than 40 percent, 10-1 (5-0) when holding their opponent to less than 40 percent, and 13-0 (7-0) 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 - combined to miss 27 games this season. The Lions have found some consistency, starting the same five the last 10 games, improving to 8-2 after the two wins last week. They have now played 10 games with their top-seven, improving to 8-2. 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.
After playing at San Diego in the third game of conference play, the two will finally meet to comlete the season series in the second to last conference game of the season. The Lions earned a grind-it-out 79-68 at San DIego on Jan. 7 to take a 43-40 edge in the series. Drew Viney scored 20 points and Ashley Hamilton made his return to the line-up with 16 points and seven rebounds. Johnny Dee led all scorers with 24 points on 6-for-12 shooting from long range. The 84th meeting between the two programs will feature two of the "surprise" teams this season as the Lions are a game out of second after being picked sixth in the preseason poll, and the Toreros are a game and a half out of fifth after being picked ninth. The Toreros have won three of their last four in conference play, including a 78-75 overtime winner over Portland last Thursday. Former walk-on, sharp-shooter Johnny Dee leads the Toreros with 13.7 points per game, hitting 71 three pointers on a 42.8 percent clip. The game will be Military Night at the Game, with anyone with a military ID getting two free tickets to the game.
The Lions have found success in the big games under Head Coach Max Good. The Lions are 4-4 against ranked opponents the last three season under Good, including a 3-2 mark in 2011-12. 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 9-3 this season, the Lions have the most road wins since the Westhead era.
AT THE POINT
Sophomore Anthony Ireland started the season scoring 22 or more points in four of five games, and with his 23 points at Gonzaga, he now has nine games with 20 or more on the season and 11 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 is tied for second in the WCC in scoring at 15.5 points per game and fourth with 4.8 assists per contest. He earned his second WCC Player of the Week honor with 16 points and seven assists in the win over ranked Saint Mary's, and 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the win over Valpo. His first was after his 27-point effort in the win over BYU and he 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. After 13 assists last week, he now has 229 career assists to rank 16th all-time at LMU. He also has 43 steals on the season (1.6 spg), to rank seventh in the WCC.
LaRon Armstead continues to show why he is the Lions' senior leader, becoming the 30th player in LMU history to appear in 100 games in his career, and now ranks 27th with 103 games played. Fellow senior Tim Diederichs became the 31st to hit a 100 in the game against Gonzaga. He is 28th with 102 games played. Armstead 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 8.3 points per game while adding 2.7 rebounds, and 18 steals. In addition to his free throws, he has hit 3- three-pointers, tied for second 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 Wednesday's game averaging 15.9 points, 5.2 rebounds with 16 blocks, 19 steals and 27 assists in 18 games. He is second on the team with 30 three-pointers (ranking third in WCC games hitting 45.1 percent). His career numbers are starting to add up. Here is where he ranks in the LMU career record books as of Feb. 19: 17th with 1,285 points 15th with 16.7 ppg 20th with 447 made field goals 25th with 960 field goal attempts 9th with 131 three-pointers made 10th with 315 three-pointer attempts 4th with a 41.6 three-point field goal percentage 20th with 260 free throws made 28th with 328 free throws attemted 20th with a 79.3 free throw percentage 24th with 496 rebounds 5th with 80 blocks. He needs four more rebounds to become the 13th LMU player with 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.
Redshirt junior Jarred DuBois, who began play with the Lions in the same 2008-09 campaign with senior LaRon Armstead, played just five games a year ago due to foot surgery and was granted a medical redshirt. After missing three games due to a concussion, he returned against Santa Clara to score nine points, hitting his final point on a free throw to give him 1,000 points in his career. He is the 32nd player in LMU history to do so. He is averaging 10.3 points per game this season after going for 15 against Saint Mary's to rank 20th in the WCC. In his career at LMU, he is sixth all-time with 141 career three-pointers, 13th with a career three-point percentage of 37.1, fifth with a career free throw percentage of 84.0 percent and 17th with 227 career assists.
For the fifth straight season a freshman has earned a double-double, thanks to C.J. Blackwell going for 13 points and 11 rebounds against Idaho State on Dec. 10. Blackwell led the Lions with 19 points against USF in the WCC opener, hitting 7-for-12 from the field and 4-for-7 from long range against USF. He was at it again at Portland Thursday, coming off the bench for 11 quick points in just nine minutes. Blackwell continues a run of successful freshman at LMU. Blackwell is sixth on the team with 6.5 points per game and is hitting 37.1 percent from three. He is fifth on the squad with 26 three-pointers, hitting three at Portland. He and Jarred DuBois are 12th and 6th, respectively, in the WCC in three-point field goal percentage. The Lions have had a member on the WCC All-Freshman team each of the last three seasons. DuBois, who set a freshman scoring record at LMU in 2008-09 with 417 points, was the first in the `08-'09 campaign. In 2009-10, Hamilton was named All-Freshman after going for 8.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The latest was Ireland, who finished with 340 points as a freshman in 2010-11 to rank seventh all-time at LMU.
- GO LIONS -