A Tough Thursday Test to Open Holiday Homestand

Shamar Johnson
Dec. 21, 2016


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LOS ANGELES - Winners of their last four, LMU men’s basketball returns to Gersten Pavilion for a four-game homestand over the holidays. It opens with a tough Thursday night test as UT-Arlington (9-3), ranked 24th in the latest NCAA RPI rankings, comes to Los Angeles on Dec. 22 for a 7 pm tip-off. The game is sponsored by SEIA and can be seen on TheW.tv and heard on KXLU 88.9 FM.

Date | Time: Thursday, Dec. 22 | 7 pm (PT)
Where: Gersten Pavilion | Los Angeles, CA
GAME PREVIEW: LMU Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UTA Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
The Match-up: LMU: ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATS
UTA: ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATS
Live Broadcast: TheW.tv
RADIO: KXLU 88.9 FM | Listien Online
Live Stats: StatBroadcast | GameTracker
GameDay Info: GAMEDAY CENTRAL | BUY TICKETS | COMING TO LMU

THE MATCH-UP

• LMU claimed their fourth straight win with yet another thrilling 69-66 come-from-behind victory at Colorado State on Monday. The Lions improved to 6-3 on the season thanks to senior Brandon Brown’s three-pointer with 0.9 seconds left. The senior led Lions have been cardiac kids of late, earning one-point decisions in three of their last five match-ups, with five of their last seven games decided on the last possession of the game. They had the game-tying three-pointer off the mark in a three-point setback to UCONN on Nov. 17, and then the game-winner just miss in an 80-79 setback to Boise State on Dec. 5. Then the last three games have gotten even better. Stefan Jovanovic’s put-back with nine seconds to play on Dec. 10 defeated CSUN 69-68. Trevor Manuel played his first game as a Lion against UIW, hitting two free throws with two seconds left to send it to overtime. Brandon Brown and Buay Tuach then scored all 11 of the Lions’ points in overtime for the win. On Monday, the Lions erased a 10-point deficit with nine minutes to play to set-up Brown’s game winner on the road.

• UT-Arlington enters the game on Thursday at 9-3 overall and sits ranked 24th in the latest NCAA RPI rankings (Dec. 20). The Mavericks have won eight straight games, including wins at Texas (72-61 on Nov. 29), at then No. 12 Saint Mary’s (65-61 on Dec. 8) and at Bradley (56-51 on Dec. 16) in their most recent contest. They lead the nation in three-point field goal defense at 26.2 percent and hold teams to just 66.3 points per game, which is 74th nationally. The Sun Belt Conference members are led by point guard Erick Neal, who is 11th in the nation with 6.8 assists per game. He adds 9.9 ppg on a squad that has had 11 players play all 12 games. Kevin Hervey leads the team at 13.7 ppg and 6.9 rpg.

• This will be the first meeting between the two programs, the 10th institution from the state of Texas to face the Lions. They have faced Austin Peay, Baylor, Hardin Simmons, North Texas State, SMU, Texas A&M, UTEP, Texas State, and West Texas State. They are 7-11 against the state.

INSIDE THE LIONS

• The Lions are 6-3 on the season as they enter the holidays on a four-game homestand, including two final non-conference match-ups and then the start of WCC play on Dec. 29 against 19th-ranked Saint Mary’s. They have won four straight, starting with a 75-68 win over Southern Utah. Brandon Brown went for a career-best 26 points on 8-for-13 shooting. In the 69-68 win over CSUN, Stefan Jovanovic scored with nine seconds remaining to lift the Lions to the road victory. He finished with a career-high 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting. On Dec. 17 against UIW, Brown went for 24 points and a career-best eight rebounds as the Lions erased an eight-point deficit in the final 2:28 of regulation to force overtime. Buay Tuach had 14 of his 16 points after the half and Jovanovic had 15 points and nine rebounds. On Monday at Colorado State, the Lions did it again. They erased a 10-point deficit with nine minutes to play and Brown hit a three-pointer with 0.9 seconds left for the 69-66 win. He finished with 22 points while Jovanovic had yet another career-high with 21 points and eight rebounds.

• Brown and Jovanovic are two of five seniors pacing the Lions this season. Within the WCC, Brown is tied for 10th with 15.8 ppg, having scored at least 20 points in four of the last six games. Fellow senior Tuach is 23rd in the league and second on the team with 11.7 ppg while Jovanovic has been hot during the Lions winning streak. He is 24th in the league at 11.2 ppg, scoring over 15 ppg in the last four wins. He is also 19th in rebounding at 5.3 per game. Senior Shamar Johnson averages 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, fifth and second on the team, respectively, He ranks 11th within the WCC in offensive rebounds. The fifth senior on the roster, Kelvin Amayo, is averaging 7.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.8 apg and 1.0 spg, which is ranked 15th in the WCC.

• Brown and Tuach have been stat-stuffers so far this season. Tuach is also ranked 9th in assists (3.4 apg), 3rd in steals (1.6 spg), and 8th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8). Brown is ranked 7th in assists (4.6 apg), 9th in steals (1.1 spg), 15th in three-point field goal percentage (44.4%), and 9th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7),

• The Lions post play has been key early this season, outscoring opponents 338 to 233 in points in the paint the first nine games, including setting a season best three of the last five games. They had a then season’s best 44 points against Boise State on Dec. 5 and then exploded for a 50-33 edge in the win over CSUN on Dec. 10. They did one better Saturday, holding a 54-14 edge in points in the paint against UIW. It is the widest margin on record in last 20 years. In the win over the Rams Monday, they held a 30-12 edge in points in the paint and a 15-4 edge in second chance points.

• The second chance points were thanks to a rebounding edge on Monday. The Lions improved to 5-0 on the season when they out-rebound their opponent, holding a 40-31 edge over CSU. Against UIW, they held a 43-30 edge on the glass and held a 21-7 advantage in second chance points. They are 5-0 when holding an edge in second chance points... They are 5-0 when they shoot better than their opponents, 6-1 when scoring more points in the paint and 4-1 with more points off turnovers. They held a 17-16 edge over CSU.

• The Lions shot over 50 percent from the field in back-to-back games, hitting 52.3 percent against Boise State after going for a season-best 57.4 percent in the win over Portland State. It is the first time the Lions have posted back-to-back games over 50 percent since December of 2009. They hit 62.1 percent in the second half to erase a 10-point deficit. On Monday, they hit 50 percent in the second half against CSU to erase another 10-point deficit, hitting 13-for-26. The Lions went over 50 percent for the fourth time on the season with a 53.6 percent effort in the win over CSUN. LMU shot 50 percent or better just twice all of last year.

• Senior Stefan Jovanovic set a career-high for the second time in the Lions’ current win streak, going for 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting. He had a then career-best 16 points in the win over CSUN, going 7-for-9 from the field. He is now 4th in the WCC on the season hitting 62.7 percent. Senior Shamar Johnson, who led the Lions against Boise State with 14 points and seven rebounds, is is shooting 50.7 percent on the season (34-for-67). The Lions are fourth in the WCC as a team, shooting 47.7 percent.

• More rankings... the Lions are 2nd in the WCC in steals at 7.5 per game. Tuach is third in the league with 1.7 per game while Brown is 9th and Kelvin Amayo is 15th... The Lions had nine blocks against UIW on Saturday. Jovanovic is 8th in the WCC with 0.9 bpg. Of the nine on Saturday, four came from sophomore Trevor Manuel in his debut. The mid-season transfer from Oregon played his first game on Saturday against UIW, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds, the four blocks and two steals. He went 4-for-8 from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe, including the two that sent the game to overtime... Jovanovic is 5th in the league in offensive rebounds at 2.4 per game while Johnson is 11th 1.9.

UPNEXT

• Hoops for the Holidays continues the day after Christmas when LMU will host the 2016 LMU Holiday Classic on Monday, Dec. 26 against Morgan State at 5 pm. This special Christmas addition of the annual classic will feature free admission and $1 hot dogs. Parking is free that day. Bring the entire family for this special game.

• YEAR-END CELEBRATION: LMU will begin play within the West Coast Conference with two of the best. Help the Lions close-out the 2016 calendar year and begin the WCC season in grand style with this special two game package to watch the Lions take on Saint Mary’s on Thursday, Dec. 29 and then BYU on Friday, Dec. 31. Get one upper level ticket to each game for just $40 and lower level package is just $50. CLICK HERE FOR YEAR-END PACK.

• FAMILY NEW YEAR PACK: Close out 2016 on the right foot by bringing the family to the WCC Showdown between the Lions and BYU. This special family package is for 4 upper level tickets and 4 free hot dog coupons for just $80 when the Lions take on BYU on Saturday, Dec. 31. End 2016 right with Lion basketball. CLICK HERE FOR FAMILY PACK.


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