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Marist (4-9) at Niagara (5-7)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 3, 7 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Gallagher Center (2,400) -- Niagara, New York. Television: Time Warner Sportsnet. Home Record: Marist 2-3, Niagara 4-1. Away Record: Marist 1-4, Niagara 1-5. Neutral Record: Marist 1-2, Niagara 0-1. Conference Record: Marist 1-1, Niagara 1-0. Series Record: Niagara leads, 20-15.

GAMES NOTES: In their first game of 2013 the Niagara Purple Eagles will get back to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play when they host the Marist Red Foxes at the Gallagher Center on Thursday night.

The Red Foxes have been slipping recently and have lost their last three contests including an 85-75 loss to the College of Charleston on New Year's Eve. Marist is now just 4-9 this season including a 1-4 mark on the road where the Red Foxes will be yet again on Saturday against Canisius.

Niagara had won consecutive games before traveling to South Bend on New Year's Eve where the Purple Eagles were routed 89-67 by Notre Dame. The loss dropped the Purple Eagles' to 5-7 this season. Like most teams, the Purple Eagles play better at home where they are 4-1 this season.

In terms of the all-time series, Niagara leads 20-15. Last season the two squads split the season series with the home team victorious in each instance.

Marist allowed Charleston to connect on 51.8 percent of its shots from the field in the loss on Monday. The Red Foxes got some big performances from Chavaughn Lewis (23 points, 7 rebounds) and Dorvell Carter (19 points) in the loss. Carter was the major reason for the Red Foxes' 23-10 edge in points from the bench.

In the loss to Charleston the Red Foxes managed to connect on 46.4 percent of their shots from the field which was a marked improvement over their normal shooting percentage. On average the Red Foxes have hit on just 39.4 percent of their shots, accounting for their scoring average of 61.8 points per game. Rebounding is another weak area with Marist bringing in only 32.2 boards per game while suffering from a -8.9 differential on the glass. Devin Price (14.3 ppg) and Lewis (13.1 ppg) are each scoring in double figures for the Red Foxes. Each is shooting worse than 40 percent from the field for a team with no other players scoring more than eight points per game.

Niagara did managed to outscore Notre Dame from beyond the arc (27-24) but that was one of very few positives the Purple Eagles had. Notre Dame connected on 62.0 percent of its field goal attempts including 18-of-24 in the second half. Niagara was also on the short end of a 41-29 difference on the boards.

On the offensive side of the ball Niagara has not had nearly as much trouble as Marist. The Purple Eagles are the third-best scoring team in the MAAC this season by netting 73.0 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting. It is on defense however where Niagara falls short. The Purple Eagles are getting lit up for 76.3 points per game. The backcourt duo of Antoine Mason (19.0 ppg) and Juan'ya Green (15.5 ppg, 4.6 apg) has been impressive for Niagara. Adding to the list of scoring options are Ameen Tanksley (9.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Marvin Jordan (9.4 ppg). Niagara isn't a very deep team though with only one other player putting in more than six points per game.

Both of these squads rely on a duo of players to carry them. With that being said Niagara's tandem of Mason and Green should get the better of Marist's Price and Lewis.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Niagara 72, Marist 67

01/03 10:45:08 ET