Final Home Stand Starts With Broncos
The final home stand of the 2013-14 season begins on Thursday against Santa Clara.
Feb. 26, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- The 2013-14 LMU men's basketball regular season heads into the final conference weekend as does the careers of seniors Anthony Ireland and Alex Osborne. The duo have played more games than any players in LMU history and they play their final two home games of their careers this week, starting with Santa Clara on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 8 pm. The game will be aired live on Time Warner Cable SportsNet and can be heard live on KXLU 88.9 FM.
INSIDE THE LIONS
It's the final home games in the stellar career of Anthony Ireland, who is ranked in the top-10 all-time in LMU history in 14 of the 23 career statistical categories. Fans can be a part of the festivities. Thursday's game against Santa Clara is Partner Appreciation night. The game will also be broadcast live on the WCC Regional Networks. Then on Saturday, Mar. 1 the Lions face San Francisco on Senior Day. Come celebrate one of the best players in LMU history with a special "2,000 and Counting" T-Shirt giveaway for students. It is also Young Alum "Return to the Student Section" Night. Special $5 tickets are available for alums within the last 10 years. For more information, visit LMULions.com/Tickets.
It has been nearly two months since Santa Clara and LMU last played on Jan. 4. The match-up will feature two of the top teams in the WCC in taking care of the basketball. The Broncos lead the league with just 9.7 turnovers per game, helping them to a league best +2.14 turnover margin. The Lions are third at +1.25 thanks to a league leading 7.25 steals per game and 12.4 turnovers per game, the second lowest in school history. This will be the 10th meeting for Anthony Ireland against the Broncos, and entering the match-up he is averaging 22.7 points per game in the previous nine meetings. He scored a career-high 34 points in the first meeting this season, playing in 40 of the 45 minutes. He has also hit 47.7 percent from the field while chipping in 35 assists and 18 steals.
Senior Anthony Ireland continues to pace the Lions in all areas of the floor, putting the final marks on his record-setting career and cementing himself even more in the LMU record book. He has not missed a game in his career, playing in his school record 128th against Pepperdine while earning his 121st start, also a record. With the limited roster, Ireland has played the full 40 minute they last two games Ireland is the only Lion in LMU history with at least 2,000 career points, 500 career rebounds, 500 career assists and 150 career steals. He is the only active player in the NCAA to have hit those milestones and there are only three active players in Division I basketball (Kendall Williams - New Mexico; Chaz Williams - UMass; Shabazz Napier - UConn) to have 1,500 points, 500 assists and 150 steals. As of Feb. 24 he is second in the league at 18.8 ppg (63rd nationally), second in assists at 5.39 (40th nationally) and second in steals at 1.68. With 527 points (ranked 34th in the NCAA as of Feb. 16), 151 assists (ranked 32nd) and 47 steals (ranked 83rd) in 2013-14, Ireland now ranks third in points with 2,103, third in assists with 535 and second in steals at 194.
Freshman Evan Payne scored 16 points against Pepperdine, making him the all-time freshman scoring leader in LMU history. He has 423 career points, passing Jarred DuBois (417 points in 2008-09). It was his 22nd double-digit scoring game of the season, setting the freshman record for double-digit scoring games. He has five 20-point games, one shy of the freshman record of six shared by three players. Payne scored 25 points against Pacific in the first meeting on Jan. 23, second only to his 27 points against BYU in the first meeting on Dec. 28, 2013. 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 423 points on the season, just the second freshman in LMU history to go over 400. His 15.1 ppg is ranked ninth in the WCC and is on pace to 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. 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 Santa Clara, Levin has 184 rebounds and is ranked second all-time for a freshman. In addition, he has 30 blocks on the year, ranking 13th in LMU history for blocks in a season by any player, and his 1.20 bpg is ranked 6th within the WCC this season. His rebound average of 7.1 is ranked ninth in the WCC and would also set the LMU freshman record of rpg in a season.
The Lions enter the week second behind Pacific in the WCC and 10th in the NCAA (as of Feb. 24) hitting 76.0 percent on the season from the free throw line. The Lions with 17-for-19 against Gonzaga as Anthony Ireland hit 10-for-11. The Lions hit 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). The all-time program record is 77.7 percent sent in the 2001-02 season.
The Lions have had more turnovers than their opponents just seven times in 28 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 matched the season low with six against Pepperdine last Thursday. The Lions are averaging just 12.25 turnovers per game this season while leading the league in steals at 7.25 per game. LMU ranks third in the WCC in turnover margin at +1.25. 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.
LMU has stayed aggressive despite the depleted roster, heading into the week the Lions are one of the best in the WCC in getting And-1 opportunities. Freshman Evan Payne is tied for the league lead with Saint Mary's Brad Waldow in completing 15 And-1 chances (basket and made free throw). Anthony Ireland is fourth on that list with 13. As a team, the Lions have hit 50 heading into the weekend.
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. The Lions enter the Santa Clara game with just seven scholarship players. 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 to be lost for the season in 2013-14 due to injury. Combined with freshman Patson Siame's year of residency, the Lions will play this weekend with just seven scholarship players. It has shown up the last two games for the Lions as Anthony Ireland has played 80 straight minutes, not coming out in the last two games. In addition, the Lions' opponents have held a 76-8 edge in points off the bench the last two contests.
Entering the Santa Clara game, key players have missed 60 games this season due to injury, including Flint's 10 games, Godwin Okonji (leg suffered in car accident prior to practice on Oct. 20, see LMULions.com for more) for the entire season (28 games) and senior Ayodeji Egbeyemi (hip) the last 20 games. The two seniors will look to apply for a medical redshirt and the end of the season. Freshman Gabe Levin also missed two games with a shoulder injury. The Lions have had nine 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. Other impacts on the roster this season have included freshman Nino Jackson, who has been out after a severe ankle sprain prior to the game against UC Riverside on Dec. 2, withdrawing from the University and is no longer with the program due to personal reasons. Sophomore transfer Ben Dickinson missed the game on Jan. 18 against Gonzaga and also remains out indefinitely for personal reasons.