Iona (6-5) at Saint Joseph's (5-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 28, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hagan Arena (4,200) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: Iona 4-0, Saint Joseph's 3-1. Away Record: Iona 1-2, Saint Joseph's 1-2. Neutral Record: Iona 1-3, Saint Joseph's 1-1. Conference Record: Iona 1-1, Saint Joseph's 0-0. Series Record: Saint Joseph's leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: The Iona Gaels open a three-game road swing on Friday night, as they take on the Saint Joseph's Hawks in non-conference action at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia.
Iona's up and down season has started to pick up in recent weeks as it has won three of its last four games, most recently putting together its most dominant performance of the year last Sunday in a 100-72 win over Norfolk State. The Gaels are undefeated at home, but they've won just two of the seven contests played away from the Hynes Center.
While Iona is on the upswing, Saint Joseph's season is starting to trend downward, as it has lost back-to-back games and three of its last four, including a disappointing 60-57 decision at home versus Fairfield last Saturday. The Hawks do have an impressive win, having defeated nationally- ranked Notre Dame, 79-70, in overtime in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
Saint Joseph's has won three of the four matchups in the all-time series with Iona, although the Gaels took the last meeting in November of 2011, 104-99, in double-overtime.
The Gaels were clicking on all cylinders in their 28-point win over Norfolk State. Not only did they shoot 50.7 percent from the field, but they also made 10 3-pointers, drained 22-of-27 from the foul line, and won the rebounding battle by a commanding 47-26 margin. Lamont Jones saw significant minutes off the bench and took advantage with 24 points thanks in large part to a perfect night from the stripe (12-of-12). David Laury shot 8-of-10 from the floor on his way to 20 points, while Laury, Sean Armand (12 points), Tavon Sledge (12 points) and Taaj Ridley (10 points) each grabbed at least seven rebounds. Iona's performance added to an already impressive offensive season, as the team nets 81.1 ppg, which ranks in the top 20 nationally. Jones has been consistently outstanding, ranking fifth in Division I with 22.2 ppg, adding nearly four assists per game as well. After missing the first nine games of the season, Laury has tallied 20 points or more in both games since his return, and paired with Jones and Armand (18.8 ppg), the Gaels have one of the most potent scoring trios in the nation.
Offensive production has not come as easily for Saint Joseph's (.427 FG percentage, 65.7 ppg), as is has scored 61 points or fewer in three of its last four games, including in its latest loss to Fairfield where the team made just 33.3 percent of its field goal attempts. Ronald Roberts tallied a double- double in the setback with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Langston Galloway scored 15 points thanks in part to a 3-of-7 night from beyond the arc, but the rest of the team combined to go only 1-of-11 from 3-point range. C.J. Aiken rounded out the double-digit scorers with 13 points while also blocking four shots. The Hawks rely heavily on their top six performers, all of which average at least 31 minutes per game at 8.1 ppg, but no one else scores more than three points per contest. Galloway (14.2 ppg) and Jones (13.7 ppg) are the most reliable scoring options, while Roberts (10.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg), Aiken (10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg) and Halil Kanacevic (8.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.8 bpg) are all forces in the frontcourt, although Kanacevic will miss this game while serving a suspension.
Despite a deep and experienced starting lineup, Saint Joseph's has yet to find its rhythm this year, and it even proved to be vulnerable at home in its latest loss. Iona is at full strength for the first time this year and its offensive firepower will catapult it to an impressive road victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 85, Saint Joseph's 77
12/28 10:32:09 ET