Grand Canyon (0-1) at San Diego (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 9, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jenny Craig Pavilion (5,100) -- San Diego, California. Television: None. Home Record: Grand Canyon 0-0, USD 1-0. Away Record: Grand Canyon 0-0, USD 0-0. Neutral Record: Grand Canyon 0-1, USD 0-0. Conference Record: Grand Canyon 0-0, USD 0-0. Series Record: Grand Canyon leads, 10-8.
GAMES NOTES: In the final matchup of the 2013 San Diego Classic, the host San Diego Toreros will take on Division I newcomer Grand Canyon in a non- conference bout at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Although it was unable to grab a win in its first foray into the Division I ranks, Grand Canyon certainly did itself proud. The Antelopes connected on 15- of-26 shots in the second half to storm back before eventually falling in the tournament and season opener against Loyola Marymount, 78-75 on Friday. This year the Antelopes will be competing in the Western Athletic Conference, but are not eligible for the league tournament. Still, they bring in a 23-8 record from a year ago as well as a high-profile coach in former NBA player Dan Majerle. Grand Canyon will play its first home game of the year next Saturday against Western New Mexico.
Unlike Grand Canyon, San Diego was able to defend its homecourt and grab a win on Friday night in its opener. The Toreros trailed South Dakota State, 67-61, with just under five minutes to go but some timely shooting from Christopher Anderson helped the team rally, as the Toreros came back to claim a 74-70 victory. San Diego ended the contest on a 13-3 run, despite making good on just 6-of-12 shots from the free throw line in the final 20 minutes. Dating back to last season the Toreros have now won four of their last five games. Though it is a small sample size, it is a sign of improvement for a team that hasn't had a winning record since 2008. San Diego visits Morgan State as part of a two-game road trip next.
This year will feature a lot of first time meetings for Grand Canyon and that includes Saturday's matchup with San Diego.
Killian Larson was the player of the game for the Antelopes in the loss to the Lions. The starting center poured in a game-high 18 points and also came within a rebound of a double-double. Larson was the top returning scorer so his efforts were to be expected. However, continuing to do so at such an efficient rate (6-of-8) would be a big boost for Majerle's squad. Larson wasn't the only Antelope making noise offensively as a total of five players got into double figures. Demetrius Walker made a real case for the starting lineup as he netted 17 points off the bench. Also getting in on the action were Blake Davis (12 points, five rebounds), Justin Foreman (11 points) and Jerome Garrison (10 points).
Although Anderson hit a few key shots down the stretch it was Johnny Dee that carried the Toreros offensively on Friday night. Dee knocked down 6-of-12 shots from beyond the arc, and 9-of-17 overall en route to a 27-point eruption. Dee was the team's leading scorer a year ago and has proven throughout his career that he can be lethal from 3-point range. Anderson was also instrumental, as he buried a key 3-pointer, while finishing with 11 points and eight assists. Anderson also collected three steals but turned the ball over a game-high six times. Anderson's struggles at the free-throw line (2-of-10) were also troubling as the rest of the team went 11-of-16 at the line. European import Duda Sanadze had a solid start to his career, as he netted 14 points, while knocking down a pair of shots from beyond the arc. Dennis Kramer nearly posted a double-double (nine points, 10 rebounds) and Jito Kok made up for a weak offensive outing (five points) with three blocked shots.
Even though moral victories do not end up in the actual win column, Grand Canyon has got to be pleased with how it performed on Friday. The task at hand on Saturday will be another big challenge especially if Dee erupts again and Anderson can cut down on the mistakes.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Diego 75, Grand Canyon 67
11/09 10:39:01 ET