Loyola Marymount (4-4) at Northern Arizona (3-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 5, 8:35 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Walkup Skydome (16,230) -- Flagstaff, Arizona. Television: FS-AZ, FS-W. Home Record: LMU 2-1, NAU 1-0. Away Record: LMU 1-1, NAU 1-3. Neutral Record: LMU 1-2, NAU 1-1. Conference Record: LMU 0-0, NAU 0-0. Series Record: Loyola Marymount leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks will play just their second home game of the season on Wednesday night, as they entertain the Loyola Marymount Lions at Walkup Skydome.
LMU has split its first eight games right down the middle. After dropping two of three in the Great Alaska Shootout over Thanksgiving weekend, the Lions returned home for a pair, losing to Long Beach State (73-70) and defeating Portland State (66-56).
NAU spent its first six games of the season either on the road or on a neutral court, with its only two wins in that span coming over UC Davis (85-82) and Campbell (70-62). The Lumberjacks finally played their first home game last Saturday against Sam Houston State, and they responded well with a 77-60 victory.
Loyola Marymount holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series over NAU, which includes a home win in the Nov. 26, 2011 matchup (81-61).
The Lions have been efficient at the offensive end of the court this year, scoring nearly 75 ppg on 43.8 percent field goal efficiency. Their shooting effort took a step backward in their last outing, as they shot just 41.1 percent (including 4-of-20 from three-point range), but they stepped up their play at the defensive end by holding Portland State under 41 percent accuracy from the field in the 10-point victory. Ashley Hamilton tallied 19 points and nine rebounds and Anthony Ireland scored 12 points, while the two combined to shoot 15-of-17 from the foul line. Godwin Okonji, Chase Flint and C.J. Blackwell all scored 10 points in the win. On the season, Ireland has been LMU's catalyst. The junior is one of the most well-rounded guards in the nation, scoring 20.3 ppg on 44.6 percent shooting from the field (.414 from three-point range) while adding 5.9 rpg, 4.6 apg and 1.8 spg to his stat line. Hamilton is a great inside complement with 14.6 ppg and 7.9 rpg. Ayodeji Egbeyemi (12.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg) has also been strong for LMU, which as a team grabs 41.0 rpg, 8.9 more than its opponents.
NAU got down early to Sam Houston State in its latest game, but behind 47.3 percent field goal shooting and 81.8 percent from the free throw line, it was able to pull away and lead by double digits for virtually the entire second half. DeWayne Russell continued his fantastic freshman campaign with 19 points on 6-of-10 from the field. Gabe Rogers struggled with his shot, especially from long-range (4-of-13), but he still ended up with 19 points, and Stallon Saldivar came off the bench to register 11 points and five assists. The impressive showing from the field was a departure for this Lumberjack squad, as they average just 65.3 ppg on less than 43 percent field goal shooting. Russell has been one of the consistent bright spots for the team, as he is making good on 47.4 percent of his field goal attempts and draining a pair of three-pointers per contest en route to 16.3 ppg. The impressive first-year guard is also automatic from the foul line, draining 93.3 percent of his free throws. Rogers can also make noise on the scoreboard (15.6 ppg), but he needs a lot of field goal attempts to do so, as he sits with an ugly shooting percentage (.314).
Both teams possess excellent guard play, highlighted by Ireland and Russell, but beyond its standout freshman, NAU doesn't nearly possess as much talent as the Lions. LMU has been inconsistent so far, but figure it to use its size advantage to help claim victory in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola Marymount 77, Northern Arizona 71
12/05 10:35:19 ET