Belmont (3-0) at Alaska-Anchorage (4-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 21, 2 a.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sullivan Arena (8,700) -- Anchorage, Alaska.. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Belmont 1-0, UAA 4-0. Away Record: Belmont 2-0, UAA 0-0. Neutral Record: Belmont 0-0, UAA 0-0. Conference Record: Belmont 0-0, UAA 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Opening round action of the 35th annual Great Alaska Shootout is on tap for early Thursday morning, as the Belmont Bruins take on the host Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves at Sullivan Arena.
The teams will go on to play either UC Riverside or Northeastern in the next round.
Fresh off a 27-win season and an NCAA Tournament berth, Belmont has begun the 2012-13 campaign with three straight victories. After taking care of Lipscomb (89-60) and Maryville (88-49), the Bruins went into hostile territory at Stanford and took down the Cardinal, 70-62.
UAA, which was picked fourth in the preseason Great Northwest Athletic Conference poll, has also gotten off to a fast start with wins in each of its first four games. The Seawolves just came off a two-game sweep of Washington Adventist, with their latest win being their most convincing of the season (87-56).
This bout marks the first time these two teams have faced each other.
Belmont has been stellar at both ends of the court this year in shooting 46.7 percent from the field (including 44.3 percent from three-point range), while holding its opponents to just 34.2 percent. The results have allowed the Bruins to outscore the opposition by more than 25 ppg. The matchup was a little tighter on the road against Stanford, and their field goal efficiency slipped (.362), but they held the Cardinal to just 18-of-58 from the floor while forcing 17 turnovers. Pacing four players in double figures was Ian Clark with 15, and he also added three steals. Kerron Johnson was right on his heels with 14 points. Clark and Johnson, running mates in the Belmont backcourt, are tied for the team lead in scoring with 17.3 ppg each. Blake Jenkins (11 points, five rebounds), J.J. Mann (nine points, eight rebounds), and Trevor Noack (10 points, six rebounds) rounded out an impressive effort from the starting five.
UAA was on fire from the floor in its latest win over Washington Adventist, connecting on 62 percent of its shots en route to the 87-point effort. Kyle Fossman nailed 6-of-7 from the field, including three triples, to finish with 21 points. Fossman, a preseason All-GNAC selection, has lived up to expectations so far with 18.0 ppg while hitting more than 57 percent of his three-point attempts. He's also contributing 3.8 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.8 spg, and he's made 24-of-27 from the free throw line. Center Liam Gibcus was also solid in the Seawolves' latest win with 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting, bringing his season average up to 9.5 ppg. Abebe Demissie rounded out the double-digit scorers by chipping in 10 points off the bench.
With teams making the long trip to Anchorage, UAA has a built-in advantage for this tournament being held in its own backyard, which will help make up for the lack of talent is has as a Division II program. Belmont is a veteran club with playmakers all over the floor, meaning it should be able to overcome the jet-lag to earn the easy victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 88, Alaska-Anchorage 55
11/21 10:36:29 ET