Grand Canyon (5-6) at Chattanooga (4-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 29, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKenzie Arena (11,218) -- Chattanooga, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: Grand Canyon 3-0, Chattanooga 3-1. Away Record: Grand Canyon 0-5, Chattanooga 0-6. Neutral Record: Grand Canyon 2-1, Chattanooga 1-1. Conference Record: Grand Canyon 0-0, Chattanooga 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Antelopes of Grand Canyon University try to bring an end to a three-game slide today, as they tangle with the Chattanooga Mocs in the Dr. Pepper Classic at McKenzie Arena.
Coached by former NBA star Dan Majerle, the Antelopes have played well at home, winning all three dates in their own building, but being in enemy territory is another story altogether. In fact, Grand Canyon has come up empty in all five true road games thus far and is currently dealing with a three- game slide as a result. Last Monday, the team went to New Mexico and was downed by the Lobos in The Pit by a score of 80-68.
Meanwhile, the Mocs have had similar difficulties on the road in the early going, coming up empty in six true road dates, although they have split a pair of neutral-site matchups. Out of action for more than 10 days now, the last time Chattanooga hit the floor was on Dec. 18 versus UAB on the road, a meeting that ended in a 67-52 setback. The loss was the second in a row and the third in four tries for the Mocs.
Following this first-ever meeting, the teams will be back in action on Monday in this event, matching up against Maine and Middle Tennessee based on the outcomes today.
Grand Canyon shot 50.0 percent both from the floor overall and behind the 3- point line in the second half against New Mexico, but after falling behind by 20 at the break it made little difference. Daniel Alexander, who knocked down 4-of-7 shots on the perimeter, finished with 18 points, four assists and four rebounds, followed by Blake Davis with 13 points off the bench as he too shot the ball well on the outside (3-of-6). Killian Larson and Jeff Lowery both pitched in with 10 points in the losing cause as well.
The 'Lopes have had a different leading scorer in each of the last three games, but for the entire season the top man is Demetrius Walker with 16.9 ppg, although he has shot a dismal 29.4 percent behind the 3-point line. Seeing action in just three games, Alexander is still warming up with 15.7 ppg, while Larson is averaging a double-double with 14.7 points and a team- best 11.4 rebounds per outing, helping to give the squad a slight edge on the glass overall.
With just under eight minutes to play in the first half against UAB, the Mocs held a five-point lead at 25-20, but from there the team was outscored by the hosts, 15-2, and for much of the second half the Blazers led by double figures. Several of the Chattanooga starters struggled from the field at Bartow Arena, as Martynas Bareika shot only 3-of-14 from the floor yet still tied for the team lead with 11 points. Eric Robertson came off the bench and produced 11 points and six boards to match Bareika in both categories. As a group, the Mocs shot only 30.6 percent from the field and 8-of-30 behind the 3-point line. The team played without leading scorer Z. Mason.
Bareika, who has tied for the leading scorer for the Mocs in three of the last four outings, is now up to 10.8 ppg as someone who has started just three contests and is averaging slightly more than 20 minutes per outing. Gee McGhee chips in with 11.8 ppg and is second on the team with 37 assists, but even though he has proven his worth in those areas, he still has the potential to hurt the squad with a dismal 6-of-30 (.200) shooting behind the 3-point line, the team hitting just 32.8 percent of their chances on the outside overall.
Finally jumping to the big time in terms of the competition, the Antelopes are going to experience plenty of growing pains as they find their way through Division I as a member of the Western Athletic Conference, which is another way of saying the team will probably suffer another road loss today.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Chattanooga 77, Grand Canyon 68
12/29 11:05:55 ET