Back At Quarterfinals With Unfamiliar Foe
Men's basketball to face BYU for first time since Jan. 11 and for first time in WCC tourney on Saturday.
March 8, 2014
LAS VEGAS -- LMU men's basketball advanced to the West Coast Conference Basketball Championships for the fifth straight year thanks to a 67-64 win over Portland in the opening round on Thursday. In the quarterfinals, the Lions will face No. 2-seed BYU on Saturday, Mar. 8 at roughly 2:30 pm (30 minutes after the end of game 1, which starts at 12 noon). Its been nearly two months since they faced one another in conference play and will be the first meeting in the WCC tournament. Watch the game live on BYUtv and on TheW.tv. Listen live on KXLU 88.9 FM.
LIONS AT THE WCC TOURNAMENT
More freshman marks for Evan Payne. Teammate and senior Anthony Ireland set the freshman record for points in the tournament with 24 against Santa Clara on Mar. 5, 2011. Ashley Hamilton had 23 on March 5, 2010 and Kevin Young had 20 on Mar. 6, 2009. Payne's 19 is tied for fourth on that list.
Sophomore Nick Stover, who hit a lay-up with 30 seconds to play to break a 62-62 tie, finished with 14 points on Thursday, one off his career-high. He is beginning to call Las Vegas home. In five games in Vegas, he is averaging 8.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg while shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 78.6 percent from the charity stripe. In the 56 games away from Vegas, he averages 3.7 ppg, 1.4 rpg, and shoots 37 percent from the field and 69.7 percent from FT line.
Senior Anthony Ireland had 14 points, eight rebounds and three steals on Thursday, giving him 133 points in his career in Las Vegas. It is ranked third all-time for points in the tournament. Bo Kimble is second with 145 and Hank Gathers the leader at 186. His 26 assists is second, two behind Corey Gaines, while his 20 steals is the all-time record.
The Lions seven turnovers on Thursday was the lowest for the Lions in tournament history. They also forced Portland into 19 turnovers for a +12 turnover margin, second best for the Lions in the tournament. They used that to overcome a 12-point first half deficit and a 13-point second half deficit, outscoring Portland 28-3 in points off turnovers. The Lions reduced their turnover per game average to just 12, the second lowest in school history.
LMU improved to 7-5 under Head Coach Max Good at the WCC tournament, the second most wins at the conference tournament.
INSIDE THE LIONS
Senior Anthony Ireland continues to cement himself even more in the LMU record books, not missing a game and not one day of practice in his three-year career. LMU has played 5,300 minutes since Ireland joined the program. He has played in 4,614 of them, making him 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. As of Mar. 2 he is second in the league at 18.5 ppg (61st nationally), second in assists at 5.45 (37th nationally) and second in steals at 1.68. As of Mar. 6, here is where he ranks all-time in LMU history: :
Freshman Evan Payne had 19 points against Portland, his freshman-record 25th double-digit scoring game of the season. He continues to add to his all-time freshman scoring record with 482 points. He has six 20-point games, equalling a record shared by three players. The 27 points he scored against SCU and in the first meeting against BYU is tied for the fourth best by a freshman in LMU History and his 25 is tied for ninth. 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. He is just the second freshman in LMU history to go over 400 and his 15.5 ppg is ranked eighth in the WCC and is on pace to set the LMU freshman record for ppg in a season. He is also ranked 8th in the WCC in free throw percentage (85.0%) and 9th in steals (1.35 spg), grabbing eight last week, getting four against both Santa Clara and San Francisco. His 42 steals are ranked fourth for a freshman at LMU.
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 this season. With nine rebounds Thursday, Levin has 198 rebounds and is ranked second all-time for a freshman. In addition, he has 31 blocks on the year, ranking 13th in LMU history for blocks in a season by any player, and his 1.1 bpg is ranked 6th within the WCC this season. His rebound average of 7.1 is ranked ninth in the WCC and would also rank second for rebounds per game in a season for a freshman at LMU.
The Lions shot 19-for-24 from the line Thursday and entered the week second behind Pacific in the WCC and 9th in the NCAA (as of Mar. 2) hitting 76.0 percent on the season from the free throw line. 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 31 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 on Feb. 20. They had just seven against San Francisco to end the regular season and just seven more on Thursday. The Lions are averaging just 12.00 turnovers per game this season while leading the league in steals at 7.26 per game. LMU ranks second in the WCC in turnover margin at +1.97. 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. They are ranked second with 49 and-1 chances, second only to Saint Mary's 51 (basket and made free throw). Freshman Evan Payne leads the WCC in completing 16 And-1 chances. Anthony Ireland is fourth on that list with 12.