Drexel (1-2) vs. Saint Mary's-CA (3-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 22, 4:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Anaheim Convention Center (9,100) -- Anaheim, California. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Drexel 0-1, SMC 2-0. Away Record: Drexel 1-1, SMC 1-0. Neutral Record: Drexel 0-0, SMC 0-0. Conference Record: Drexel 0-0, SMC 0-0. Series Record: Drexel leads 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The DirecTV Classic gets underway at the Anaheim Convention Center when the Drexel Dragons face the unbeaten Saint Mary's Gaels in a Thanksgiving day matchup.
After posting an impressive 27 wins last season, Drexel has not gotten this campaign off on the right foot. The Dragons are just 1-2 through the first three games after posting their first victory (61-59) against crosstown foe Penn. All of the Dragons' games have been close thus far with all decided by four points or less and two needing overtime to declare a victor.
The 2012-13 season has gotten off to a much better start for Saint Mary's. After the Gaels easily blew past Eastern Washington (85-66) on Sunday the Gaels sit at 3-0. The Gaels' other wins include a 95-69 rout of Sonoma State and a hard fought 67-58 victory on the road over Utah State.
The winner of this game awaits the winner of a Xavier/Pacific matchup while the loser of each contest will also be paired up.
In just one previous meeting, Drexel came out on top with a 70-64 victory in 1991.
The Dragons' triumph over Penn earned head coach Bruiser Flint his 200th at the school. The win came despite a pair of missed free throws in the final 20 seconds by Frantz Massenat that kept Penn's hopes alive. The Dragons shot 41.5 percent from the floor in the game including a 4-of-10 effort from beyond the arc, while also holding a 36-28 edge in rebounding. In his collegiate debut Tavon Allen scored 15 points which tied with Dartaye Ruffin for the team lead.
Defense was the key for Drexel last season and thus far it has not been there to the same degree. The Dragons are surrendering 70.3 points per game after holding teams to just 56.1 last season. Drexel has still been able to control the boards bringing in 40.7 per game as a team. Allen's influence will be vital for the Dragons as they lost top scorer Chris Fouch (16.7 ppg) to right ankle surgery earlier in the week. In his first game at the college level, Allen connected on 5-of-9 shots, included 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and also made an impact on defense by collecting four steals. He now joins Massenat (11.0 ppg. 6.3 apg) and Damion Lee (12.0 ppg) as players that will be relied on to score. Ruffin (10.0 ppg, 8.7 rpg) can also put points up and leads the team on the boards.
The Gaels breezed past Eastern Washington by shooting at an impressive 50.0 percent from the floor, including an 8-of-19 effort from the 3-point line. The Gaels really pulled away in the second half when 64.3 percent of their shots found the bottom of the net. Saint Mary's also had a 42-34 edge on the boards and dished out 21 assists as a team. Stephen Holt led the scoring with 16 points.
Holts was a preseason All-West Coast Conference selection and has largely lived up to that bulling from a scoring standpoint (14.7 ppg). However the top option is Matthew Dellavedova. The all-time leader in assists at Saint Mary's will have the ball in his hands for the majority of the Gaels' possessions in any game. Delladova is scoring 16.7 points a contest, while handing out 5.3 assists per game. Both Brad Waldow (10.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and James Walker (10.7 ppg) are scoring in double figures as well, with Walker's contributions coming off the bench. With Delladova running the show the Gaels have been humming along on offense scoring 82.3 points per game, while shooting 50.6 percent from the floor.
Although this is technically a neutral site game, Saint Mary's trip will be much shorter. That will allow the Gaels to remain fresh and keep up the offensive success as well as the success in putting up wins.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's 77, Drexel 70
11/22 10:33:19 ET