Loyola Marymount (10-6) at San Diego (9-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 9, 10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jenny Craig Pavilion (5,100) -- San Diego, California. Television: TWC Sports. Home Record: LMU 5-0, USD 5-2. Away Record: LMU 2-4, USD 2-4. Neutral Record: LMU 3-2, USD 2-1. Conference Record: LMU 2-2, USD 0-3. Series Record: Loyola Marymount leads, 44-43.
GAME NOTES: The San Diego Toreros try yet again to score their first West Coast Conference win of the season, as they tangle with the Loyola Marymount Lions at Jenny Craig Pavilion on Thursday night.
Losers of three straight and six of the last eight outings overall, the Toreros are one of two WCC teams entering the week without a league victory. Last weekend, USD was blown away by BYU on the road by a final of 87-53.
As for the Lions, they began their WCC schedule with a win over BYU back on Dec. 28, and were 2-0 in league competition heading into the new calendar year, but defeats against San Francisco and Santa Clara during this four-game road trip have brought them back to .500 in such contests. Following tonight's battle, LMU will head to Provo, Utah to seek a season-sweep versus BYU on Saturday evening.
The difference in the series between these two teams is now down to just a single game, favoring the Lions by a 44-43 margin, thanks to a 65-62 win in the first meeting of the season back on Dec. 30 in the conference opener. In that clash, LMU had four starters score in double figures, led by Evan Payne with 16 points, while Johnny Dee came off the bench for the Toreros and led all scorers with 28 points, shooting 6-of-10 behind the 3-point line.
In a game that featured 11 ties and nine lead changes, the Lions shot the ball quite well from the floor during regulation, hitting 50 percent, but they missed all five chance behind the 3-point line during the 40-minute span and added two more perimeter misses in overtime, leading to the 86-81 loss versus Santa Clara at the Leavey Center. Anthony Ireland led all scorers with 34 points, shooting 12-of-22 from the floor, and he added seven assists in the setback, followed by Ben Dickinson with 12 points, and both CJ Blackwell and Evan Payne with 10 points apiece.
Ireland remains one of the top offensive threats out west with his 19.1 ppg, thanks in large part to his 84.1 percent accuracy at the free-throw line. The other positive for Ireland is that he is as unselfish as they come, handing out 89 assists, which is probably a good idea seeing as how his 3-point shooting is down to just 28.6 percent at the moment. Payne (14.6 ppg) and Levin (11.9 ppg) are also key pieces for an offense that is generating 78.2 ppg.
San Diego was no match for the Cougars as it knocked down a total of just nine field goals in the first half, converting 2-of-11 behind the 3-point line through the first 20 minutes and 2-of-17 for the game. Chris Sarbaugh came off the bench to score a game-high 10 points for the Toreros, while the starting five combined to shoot a mere 10-of-33 from the floor. The team's 34.5 percent from the field overall was the second-lowest of the season behind the miserable 29.2 percent effort put forth versus Southern Illinois in late November.
For the third time this season, the Toreros were limited to just a pair of 3- point conversions, but in five of the previous six outings the program hit at least 42.9 percent from the perimeter, which is why it is still a respectable 33.8 percent accurate on the outside. Compared to the competition, San Diego has been lights out from 3-point range, considering previous foes have made only 29.8 percent of their long-distance attempts. Dee leads the team with 47 triples, and he is also the leading scorer overall with 18.3 ppg.
As long as Ireland is on the floor the Lions have a chance to pick up a win. However, in this case San Diego has revenge as a motivating factor and is back at home where it is more comfortable, which could easily translate to a much- needed triumph
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Diego 74, Loyola Marymount 71
01/09 10:33:57 ET