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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- LMU men's basketball will close a busy first month of the 2012-13 season when they travel to Northern Arizona to face the Lumberjacks on Wednesday, Dec. 5 in a game set to tip-off at 5:35 p.m. (PT) The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports West and Fox Sports Arizona, as well as on KXLU 88.9 FM.
INSIDE THE LIONS
The Lions are 4-4 on the young season after defeating Portland State on Homecoming, Dec. 1, 2012. In the two-game homestand, senior Ashley Hamilton averaged 18 points and nine rebounds to pace the Lions. He leads the team with 7.9 rebounds per game and is ranked fifth in the WCC entering the week. He also ranks 11th in the league in scoring at 14.6 points per game.
Anthony Ireland has exploded for the Lions to start the young season, and enters the week third in the WCC in scoring at 20.3 ppg. He had three 20-plus point games at the Great Alaska Shootout, giving him 18 in his career. In the win over Texas State, he scored his 1,000th career point and he is now 31st all-time with 1,060 points.
The Lions have been dominate on the glass of late, ranking third in the WCC entering the week with a +8.9 rebound margin, out rebounding their opponents in the last four games and six of eight on the season. The Lions out rebounded Texas State 48-32, and on Saturday they out rebounded Portland State 41-27. The Lions lead the league in offensive rebounds at 14.4 per game.
Ayodeji Egbeyemi is off to his best season, sitting third on the team with 12.3 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game. He had his second career double-double on Thursday with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Entering the week, he is ranked 16th in the WCC in scoring, eighth in rebounding, 14th in three-point percentage, sixth in three-pointers made per game (1.9), 12th in blocked shots and sixth in defensive rebounds. He leads the team with 15 three-pointers and is shooting 39.5 percent from long range.
More from long range: The Lions hit 13-for-25 from three on Thursday (52 percent) and are hitting 36.5 percent as a team. The top four scorers are all above 39 percent, including Hamilton at 50 percent to rank second in the WCC.
C.J. Blackwell, who missed the first three games due to an injury, came back in a big way in his return home, hitting 5-for-8 from long range for 15 points against Long Beach State. He is 7-for-17 (41.2%) form long range on the season. Ireland is second on the team with 12 three-pointers, hitting 41.4%.
The 2012-13 season is a combination of experience and the unknown as the Lions returned eight letterwinners, including three starters, from last year's team that had the best season since the Elite Eight campaign at 21-13 overall and 11-5 (4th) in the WCC. With the experience, however, there is plenty of youth. The 15-man roster has just 15 years of NCAA Division-I basketball experience - one of the youngest rosters in the country.
The experience: LMU junior
Anthony Ireland (20.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.6 apg), who was named Preseason All-WCC after earning First-Team All-Conference a year ago, Ashley Hamilton (14.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg), a fifth-year senior who averaged over 11 points and 5.6 rebounds a year ago, and Godwin Okonji (5.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg), who has led the team in blocks the last two years. They enter the ninth game of the season having played 233 combined games and have combined to make 202 starts. In addition, junior Ayodeji Egbeyemi (12.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg), who has started all eight games of the season, and redshirt junior Alex Osborne (4.3 rpg) combine for 131 games of experience.
The youth: The rest of the Lions' scholarship roster is underclassmen. Sophomores
Bruce English (missed first eight games with ankle injury) and CJ Blackwell (missed first three games with knee injury, had 15 points in 37 minutes against LBSU) had solid first seasons, with English earning the start in the exhibition game on Oct. 30 while Blackwell showed flashes of offensive fireworks a year ago. The rest of the roster are newcomers, with sophomore transfers Ben Dickinson (who will redshirt due to NCAA transfer rules) and Chase Flint, who has started every game and is averaging 6.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, eighth in WCC with 4.6 apg, second in WCC with assist/TO ratio of 3.0, and ninth in WCC in mpg at 32.4, along with freshmen Taj Adams (will redshirt 2012-13), Marin Mornar (3.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Nick Stover (5.7 ppg in 17.0 mpg) and Adam Drexler (7.0 mpg in two games). COMING UP ON THE TUBE
LMU will head to Northern Arizona on Dec. 5 for a 5:35 pm (PT) tip-off. The game continues to grow in its television coverage and can now be seen in Los Angeles on basic cable through Fox Sports Net West. It will also be carried on Fox Sports Net Arizona and Fox College Sports. FSN West can be found in Los Angeles on Time Warner Cable on channel 41 (HD on 463) or on DirectTV on channel 692. In addition, the Lions PCH Cup showdown at Gersten Pavilion against Pepperdine on Jan. 24 has been moved up to 6 p.m. and will be aired on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. The NAU game will start three straight games to be televised for the Lions, followed by Ole Miss on ESPNU (Dec. 19) and Saint Louis on FSN-Midwest (Dec. 22). At least 17 games will be televised this year for the Lions. - GO LIONS -