Fairfield (2-1) at Lehigh (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 19, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stabler Arena (5,600) -- Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: Fairfield 0-0, Lehigh 0-0. Away Record: Fairfield 0-1, Lehigh 0-2. Neutral Record: Fairfield 2-0, Lehigh 1-0. Conference Record: Fairfield 0-0, Lehigh 0-0. Series Record: Fairfield leads, 7-2.
GAME NOTES: The Lehigh Mountain Hawks will attempt to climb back to a .500 record when the Fairfield Stags visit Stabler Arena for an NIT Season Tip-Off consolation round bout.
The Stags are 2-1 through the first three games of Sydney Johnson's tenure at the helm. Johnson became the program's head coach after spending the past four seasons serving the same position at Princeton. He inherited a Stags squad that reached the MAAC Tournament Championship game and won 22 games last season. The team took down Penn, 62-53, its last time out by converting 19- of-23 attempts at the charity stripe. The Stags opened up the Johnson era with an overtime win over Central Connecticut State, which was followed by a 54-45 loss to Virginia in Charlottesville.
Bethlehem was in a state of celebration during the NCAA Tournament last season when its Mountain Hawks upset the No. 2 seed Duke in the second round. That trip to the Big Dance and bracket busting victory set the bar high for 2012-2013. Coach Brett Reed's team is off to a 1-2 start, but its losses came from highly difficulty road games at Baylor and Pittsburgh. Lehigh's lone win of the season was a rout of Robert Morris.
This will be the 10th time these programs square off on the hardwood. Fairfield holds a 7-2 edge in the all-time series that began in the 1976-1977 season. Lehigh won the last encounter which to place in 1987-1988.
The Stags have yet to go into a halftime break trailing on the scoreboard this season. Fairfield has hit 13-of-26 attempts from three-point range in the first halves of its first three games, but it has drained only 4-of-21 from distance after the intermission. The team has been solid defensively due to the presence of freshman Josip Mikulic. The freshman big man from Croatia is leading the team in blocks and earned the MAAC rookie of the week award after finishing his collegiate debut with 12 points and eight boards. Senior point guard Derek Needham is the general of the team, which he paces with 14 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per contest.
Lehigh is going to be challenging for the Patriot League Championship once again this season with its star combo guard C.J. McCollum back for his senior year. McCollum opened up the season with a 36-point outburst against Baylor, which equals the total amount of points he produced over the next two games. The two-time Patriot League Player of the Year has been given a lot of credit for the program's recent success, but he has plenty of help with Mackey McKnight and Gabe Knutson starting as well. McKnight is a lightning quick point guard with averages of 14 points and six assists per contest. Knutson is a scrappy 6-9, 220-pound forward with 1,110 career points.
B.J. Bailey is expected to make his debut for Lehigh tonight, which will make a huge difference. The junior guard is not going to fill up the stat sheets, but his tenacious defense will give Needham fits which in turn, will give Lehigh a definite edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Lehigh 80, Fairfield 71
11/19 10:38:49 ET