Northern Iowa (1-2) vs. Loyola Marymount (4-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 22, 1:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sports and Fitness Center (4,000) -- St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Television: Global Video Network. Home Record: UNI 1-0, LMU 1-0. Away Record: UNI 0-2, LMU 1-0. Neutral Record: UNI 0-0, LMU 2-0. Conference Record: UNI 0-0, LMU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: No stranger to success on a neutral court this season, the Lions of Loyola Marymount take on the Panthers of Northern Iowa in the opening game of the 2013 Paradise Jam this afternoon in St. Thomas.
Action in the tournament continues through Monday, with the winner of this bout facing the winner of the Marist/Maryland matchup on Sunday, and the losers meeting on Saturday.
Northern Iowa has stumbled out the game, suffering defeats in two of its first three outings. The team opened with a 75-64 loss at Ohio University, but rebounded to whip Coe College at home in an 86-52 final. Last Saturday, UNI fell at George Mason (76-70). The Panthers kick off Missouri Valley Conference play at home versus Bradley on Jan. 1, 2014.
Loyola Marymount is a perfect 4-0 on the young season, the club opening with a pair of wins over Grand Canyon (78-75) and South Dakota State (98-89) at the San Diego Classic, followed by a road victory over Long Beach State (74-73) and a home win over Northern Arizona (90-78). A win in this game would give LMU its first 5-0 start since 2003-04, and the team is gearing up for another schedule of tough games against its West Coast Conference foes. League play begins for the Lions at home against BYU on Dec. 28.
This game represents the first-ever meeting between these two schools in men's basketball.
With a record of 1-2, it's not surprising to see the Panthers putting up mediocre numbers in nearly every statistical category. They are shooting 43.2 percent from the floor, 32.3 percent from 3-point range, in netting 73.3 ppg, while at the defensive end yielding 67.7 ppg behind typical outputs of 43.6 percent field goal efficiency, which includes a 35.9 percent showing from beyond the arc. Despite coming off the bench in each contest, Chip Rank heads the club with 15.3 ppg, and he is joined in double figures by Deon Mitchell (12.0 ppg), Matt Bohannon (10. ppg, 3.7 rpg) and Matt Morrison (10.0 ppg). Three of the top-four scorers are shooting better than 51 percent from the field, and UNI owns a +4.3 rebounding advantage. In the recent loss to George Mason, Bohannon led the Panthers with 19 points, while Seth Tuttles added 17 points and seven boards, Rank tallied 14 points and Mitchell pitched in with a dozen. Northern Iowa missed 15 of its 21 3-point attempts, logging an overall shooting percentage of .400, while the Patriots converted 44.4 percent of their total shots.
Scoring hasn't been an issue for the Lions during the first few weeks of the season, as they are putting up 85 ppg behind shooting efforts of .490 overall and .794 from the free-throw line. They have however, struggled from downtown, converting a mere 25 percent of their 3-point tries. Loyola Marymount is +6.5 in rebounding margin and +2.3 in turnovers. Anthony Ireland paces the unit with 16.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per outing, while Gabe Levin (14.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Ben Dickinson (13.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Evan Payne (11.8 ppg) round out a productive quartet. Ireland (18 points, 10 assists) and Levin (15 points 10 rebounds) both logged double-doubles in the recent win over Northern Arizona, while Evan Payne came off the bench to contribute 16 points, and Chase Flint chipped in with 11. LMU shot a red-hot 55.4 percent from the floor, but found the bottom of the net on only 5-of-16 3-point attempts. The Lions claimed a 38-28 edge on the glass, while outscoring the Lumberjacks in bench points, 33-9.
The Panthers aren't about to roll over and play dead just because the Lions come in sporting a perfect record. That said, expect LMU's season of good fortune to continue as it picks up a satisfying win far away from home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola Marymount 77, Northern Iowa 65
11/22 10:39:56 ET