Loyola-Maryland (4-1) at Rhode Island (0-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas M. Ryan Center (7,657) -- Kingston, Rhode Island. Television: None. Home Record: Loyola 2-0, URI 0-1. Away Record: Loyola 0-1, URI 0-1. Neutral Record: Loyola 2-0, URI 0-2. Conference Record: Loyola 0-0, URI 0-0. Series Record: Rhode Island leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Rhode Island Rams return to the Thomas M. Ryan Center hoping to notch their first win of the season as they host the Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic.
Coming off of its second MAAC championship in 23 years, Loyola is 4-1 to start the 2012-13 campaign. The Greyhounds' only loss this season was a 22-point setback at Washington on Veteran's Day, but they have been quite impressive in their victories. After beating Binghamton, UMBC and Norfolk State by an average of 19.3 ppg, Loyola outlasted Albany in a thriller for a three-point win. Coach Jimmy Patsos coached the program to its first 20-win season as a member of Division I in his eighth season. He appears to be poised to do the same in his ninth.
The Rams came up just short their last time out as they led Seton Hall for the first 39 minutes before allowing the Pirates to close the game on a 16-3 run to steal a 60-55 victory in a game that was part of this event. Coach Dan Hurley's first four games at the helm of the Rhode Island program have been difficult to say the least. The Rams opened the season with a 73-70 loss at defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Norfolk State. They then lost to Virginia Tech (69-50) and No. 4 Ohio State (69-58), before their disappointing game with Seton Hall.
Rhode Island holds a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series with Loyola. The last meeting took place on Dec. 31, 1989.
Loyola has been solid at both ends of the floor this season as it is averaging 70.4 ppg on 46.4 percent shooting from the field, while limiting foes to 62.6 ppg on 43.1 percent field goal shooting. Ball control has been a key as the Greyhounds have only turned it over 12.4 times per contest. Dylon Cormier showed exactly why he is the team's go-to-guy the last time out. In the closing seconds, Cormier broke a 64-64 tie by making a layup while absorbing a foul and then drained the ensuing free throw. The junior guard is averaging 18.4 ppg to lead the team while senior forward Erik Etherly provides 16.6 points and 7.4 boards per contest on the interior.
Due to the level of competition, the Rams are scoring only 54.2 ppg on 37 percent shooting from the floor. Their opponents are netting 66.2 ppg on a much-better 43.7 percent shooting. URI was without its leading scorer Nikola Malesevic for its close loss to Seton Hall as he sat out for violating team policy. The senior forward would have definitely helped with his 14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. With Malesevic out, Mike Powell paced the team with 19 points, Andre Malone added 12 points, and Ryan Brooks set a career-high with nine rebounds. Junior guard Xavier Munford was held to seven points on 3- of-15 shooting after scoring 40 total points versus Virginia Tech and Ohio State.
Loyola looks to be the fifth difficult opponent for Rhode Island to begin the season. Although the Rams put forth a spirited effort their last time out when playing the role of underdog, coach Hurley will have to wait a little longer before notching his first win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Loyola-Maryland 71, Rhode Island 62
11/23 10:37:13 ET