Elon (6-5) at Columbia (5-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 22, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Levien Gymnasium (2,700) -- New York, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Elon 4-1, Columbia 1-2. Away Record: Elon 2-4, Columbia 3-2. Neutral Record: Elon 0-0, Columbia 1-0. Conference Record: Elon 1-1, Nebraska 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAMES NOTES: Two teams hovering around .500 will try to push the season in a more positive direction when the Elon Phoenix land in Levien Gymnasium to battle the Columbia Lions in non-conference action Saturday afternoon.
The Phoenix had quite a challenge in their last contest when they faced top- ranked Duke. Elon was routed 76-54 by the Blue Devils which was the third loss in four games. Elon has managed to earn a pair of wins on the road but has also suffered four defeats. Overall, Elon is now 6-5 and already has a victory against an Ivy League squad after downing Dartmouth 71-49.
It has been almost two weeks since Columbia last hit the hardwood. In their last outing the Lions earned a 54-42 road victory over American to put an end to a three-game losing skid. With that victory the Lions pushed themselves back over .500 (5-4) while gaining their third win on the road in five tries. This is the first of a three-game homestand for Columbia, which continues against crosstown foe Manhattan next Saturday.
This is the third straight season these teams will face off. Each squad has collected a win, with the road team victorious in each instance, including Columbia's 65-60 victory last year.
Elon hung around with Duke in the first half and was tied 25-25 with 5:23 remaining in the opening frame. The Blue Devils closed the half on a 10-2 run and went on to lead by as many as 23 points in the second half when Elon allowed the Blue Devils to score 13 second-chance points. Sebastian Koch scored 14 points and was a rebound shy of a double-double for Elon.
As a team, Elon does not shoot particularly well. The Phoenix connect on only 39.2 percent of their shots from the field but have still managed to score a respectable 68.2 points per game. Elon has managed that by throwing up a large number of attempts from beyond the arc. Elon has attempted the 17th-most 3- point shots (268) and hit on 32.8 percent of those attempts. On the other end the Phoenix limit foes to a similar field goal percentage (.395) and 64.4 points per game. Jack Isenbarger (14.5 ppg) and Lucas Troutman (14.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) are the top scoring options on the roster. Troutman is also the top rebounder for a team that is suffering from a negative margin (-3.8) on the glass.
There wasn't a whole lot of offensive success in Columbia's matchup with American. The Lions won despite shooting at just a 34.7 percent clip by holding American to 31.0 percent shooting including a 7-of-24 showing in the second half. Grant Mullins (20 points) and Brain Barbour (19) accounted for 72.2 percent of the Lions' offensive output.
Columbia has not exactly been impressive in its other games on the offensive end. The Lions score an even 65.0 points per game, but hit on just 41.6 percent of their field goal attempts. A slim edge on the boards (+0.7) and defensive efforts that have allowed just 58.9 points per game on 40.6 percent shooting have allowed the Lions to remain competitive in most contests. Barbour (14.1 ppg, 4.4 apg) runs the point and also finds plenty of opportunities for himself. Mullins (12.2 ppg) has been scoring at an impressive rate for a freshman and has connected on a team-leading 54.7 percent of his shots from the field. Alex Rosenberg (10.6 00g) is the third player scoring in double figures for the backcourt-heavy Lions.
When Elon catches fire from long range the Phoenix can be dl attempts while knoc Still the top scorer on the team is Jahii Carson (17.9 ppg, 5.3 apg). The freshman guard has been sensational in his first season and is among the top rookie scorers in the country. Evan Gordon (11.4 ppg) adds scoring from the backcourt, while Jordan Bachynski (10.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 4.8 bpg) has been a force on the interior. The Sun Devils are scoring a respectable 75.7 points per game, while owning a scoring margin of nearly +10 points.
Texas Tech rallied from a 20-point deficit against Alabama to come within two points (63-61) with just over a minute remaining but couldn't come any closer. The Red Raiders didn't do themselves any favors by shooting at just a 37.9 percent clip including a 3-of-18 effort from beyond the arc. Jaye Crockett played 32 minutes off the bench in the losing effort and recorded a double- double of 22 points and 11 rebounds.
In recent weeks the Red Raiders have really struggled to find their shot from beyond the arc. The 3-of-18 effort was the second straight game in which the Red Raiders failed to make more than 17 percent of their shots from 3-point range. Still, the Red Raiders are the second-highest scoring team in the Big 12 (78.0 ppg) and the 35th in the nation. Texas Tech hits 45.9 percent of its shots from the field. The Red Raiders have done a good job in forcing turnovers, ranking sixth in the country in steals (11.1 pg). Even though he has spent the entire season coming off the bench, Crockett (16.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg) has been the team's leading scorer and rebounder. Josh Gray (11.5 ppg) is also scoring in double figures, as is Dejan Kravic (10.1 ppg).
Behind Felix and Carson, the Sun Devils will be more than capable of holding their own against the high-octane Red Raiders. Arizona State has yet to prove it can win on the road though, meaning this game should be tightly contested throughout.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona State 81, Texas Tech 76
12/22 10:35:09 ET