WCC Play Arrives With No. 19 Saint Mary's
West Coast Conference play begins with a bang at Gersten Pavilion as Lions face No. 19 Saint Mary's Thursday.
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LOS ANGELES - The college basketball season has reached conference play, and it begins with quite the one-two punch at Gersten Pavilion for LMU. West Coast Conference action begins on Thursday, Dec. 29 when the Lions host 19th-ranked Saint Mary's for a national television showdown on ESPNU starting at 8 pm. The match-up continues a four-game holiday homestand for the Lions, which continues with another WCC heavy weight on Saturday with BYU. The game on Thursday is sponsored by Westcoast Sports Associates.
|Date | Time:||Thursday, Dec. 29 | 8 pm (PT)|
|Where:||Gersten Pavilion | Los Angeles, CA|
|GAME PREVIEW:||LMU Game Notes | SMC Game Notes|
|The Match-up:||LMU: ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATS
SMC: ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATS
|Live Broadcast:||ESPNU | WatchESPN|
|RADIO:||KXLU 88.9 FM | Listien Online|
|Live Stats:||StatBroadcast | GameTracker|
|GameDay Info:||GAMEDAY CENTRAL | BUY TICKETS | COMING TO LMU|
THE MATCH-UP The senior led Lions finished non-conference play with a 70-49 win over Morgan State on Monday, giving them a 7-4 mark heading into the WCC. The 21-point win was a departure for what the rest of December has looked like as the cardiac Lions earned one-point decisions in three of their last six match-ups, with six of their last nine games decided on the last possession of the game (record of 3-3). The Lions are 4-3 in games decided by less than 10 points, going 2-1 in one-point games and 1-2 in three-point games. The Lions were led down the stretch of non-conference by the one-two punch of Brandon Brown and Stefan Jovanovic. The two seniors lead the Lions at 15.4 and 11.5 points per game, respectively. Brown adds 5.3 assists per game and a 42.9 percent shooting mark from three while Jovanovic adds 5.5 rebounds per game and a 65.1 percent shooting clip from the field. Brown had the Lions first double-double on Dec. 22 with 22 points and 11 assists and then fellow senior Buay Tuach had their second straight on Monday with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Saint Mary's continues to rise among the nation's elite sitting at 10-1 on the season, losing to a common foe as the Lions, falling to UT Arlington in Moraga on Dec. 8, 65-51. They have won four road games since, last defeating South Carolina State 74-47 on Dec. 22. The Gaels enter conference ranked fourth in the nation in allowing just 57.5 points per game. They continue to be one of the most efficient on offense, ranking 21st in field goal percentage (49.5), 11th in rebound margin (+9.5), 11th in assists per game (18.5), fifth in assist to turnover ration (1.74) and 17th in free throw percentage (77.2). Jock Landale leads the Gaels at 17.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest, hitting 63.6 percent from the field. Joe Rahon and Emmett Naar are one-two in assists and over 6.0 per game each.
This will be the 141st meeting between LMU and Saint Mary's. They met in the quarterfinals of the 2016 WCC Championships last year with SMC pulling away in the second half, 66-48. The Gaels have won nine straight in the series and lead 86-54 overall.
AGAINST THE RANKED: This will be the first ranked opponent for the Lions since Feb. 12, 2015 when the Lions face No. 2/3 Gonzaga. The Lions face three ranked opponents in the 2014-15 season, including No. 14 Wichita State at the Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 22 and No. 3 Gonzaga in the first meeting. In the 2013 season at the West Coast Conference Championships they faced No. 1 Gonzaga, in the WCC semifinals. It was the first time the Lions faced the No. 1 team in the nation since 1989. Fittingly, the last time the Lions had to face a No. 1 was actually in Las Vegas. In the historic 1989-90 season, LMU would open with preseason No. 1 UNLV on Nov. 15, 1989, falling 102-91. LMU has played a No. 1 (AP only) seven times, five of them coming against conference foe USF. The Lions are 4-12 in their last 16 games against ranked opponents. The Lions went 3-2 in 2011-12 against ranked teams, earning a win at #16 Saint Mary's on Feb. 15, 2012 (the last win over a ranked opponent and last win over Saint Mary's).
INSIDE THE LIONS The Lions are 7-4 on the season as they continue their four-game homestand for the holidays. The Lions have won five of their last six games and had a season-best four-game winning streak snapped on Dec. 22, falling to UT Arlington 80-77. The three-point decision continues the Cardiac Lions' trend of close games this season. How close? Removing the season opener and the last non-conference match-up on Monday, the score in the other nine games has been 664 to 658. In addition to the three-point setback to UTA on Dec. 22, the Lions 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 were 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 on Dec. 17. Brandon Brown and Buay Tuach then scored all 11 of the Lions' points in overtime for the win. On Dec. 19, the Lions erased a 10-point deficit with nine minutes to play to set-up Brown's game winner on the road at Colorado State.
Brown and Jovanovic are two of five seniors pacing the Lions this season and they both have been hot of late. Brown has had 20 points or better in four of the last six games. He leads the team with 15.4 ppg and 5.3 apg after going for team's first double-double on Dec. 22, scoring 22 points with 11 assists. Within the WCC, Brown is 11th in scoring and 6th in assists. He is also 11th in steals (1.0), 14th in three-point percentage (42.9), 14th in three-pointers per game (1.9) and 5th in assist-to-turnover ratio. Jovanovic has scored in the double figures in seven straight games, including a pair of career-highs in the process. He is ranked 22nd in scoring and 2nd in shooting at 65.1 percent, including a 7-for-9 effort Monday. He had 14 points and eight rebounds on Monday, and in the last seven games he is 45-for-61 from the field, good for 73.7 percent. He is also ranked 4th in offensive rebounds at 2.6 and 8th in blocks at 0.9 per game.
Fellow senior Buay Tuach had the Lions second straight double-double with 13 points and career-best 10 rebounds on Monday. He is is 25th in the league scoring 11.4 ppg. Tuach is also ranked 11th in assists at 3.3 per game, 5th in steals at 1.5 spg, and 11th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4). Senior Shamar Johnson averages 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He ranks 9th within the WCC in offensive rebounds at 1.9. The fifth senior on the roster, Kelvin Amayo, is averaging 6.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.7 apg and 0.9 spg.
The Lions post play has been key early this season, outscoring opponents 386 to 263 in points in the paint the first 11 games, including setting a season best three of the last seven 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 on Dec. 17, 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 on Dec. 19, they held a 30-12 edge in points in the paint. They held a 22-18 edge on Thursday against UTA and a 26-12 edge in the non-conference finale against MSU.
Against CSU, LMU had a 15-4 edge in second chance points thanks to a plus-9 rebounding edge over the Rams. They held a +5 edge against the Bears Monday and improved to 6-0 on the season when they out-rebound their opponent. Against UIW, they held a 43-30 edge on the glass and held a 21-7 advantage in second chance points. They are 6-0 when holding an edge in second chance points... They are 6-0 when they shoot better than their opponents, 7-2 when scoring more points in the paint and 5-1 with more points off turnovers, holding a 19-9 edge on Monday over MSU.
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 Dec. 19, they hit 50 percent in the second half against CSU to erase another 10-point deficit, hitting 13-for-26. They nearly did it again against UTA, hitting 55.6 percent in the second half and had a chance at the tie after tailing by nine with just over six minutes to play. 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.
More rankings... the Lions are 2nd in the WCC in steals at 7.4 per game. Tuach is 5th in the league with 1.45 per game while Brown and sophomore Jeffery McClendon are tied for 11th at 1.0... They rank 2nd in turnover margin at +0.91, forcing a league-high 14.8 per game... LMU is 2nd in offensive rebound at 13.0 per game and lead the league with an offensive rebound percentage of 37.0%.
UPNEXT 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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