Binghamton (4-8) at Saint Mary's-CA (11-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, December 29th, 10:35 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKeon Pavilion (3,500) -- Moraga, California. Television: None. Home Record: Binghamton 2-2, SMC 6-1. Away Record: Binghamton 1-5, SMC 4-0. Neutral Record: Binghamton 1-1, SMC 1-1. Conference Record: Binghamton 0-0, SMC 0-0. Series Record: Saint Mary's-CA leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Gaels of Saint Mary's-CA find themselves in their second straight tournament tonight as they host the Binghamton Bearcats as part of the annual Shamrock Classic at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga.
After picking up two wins in three opportunities at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii last week, the Gaels are now hosting their own event and have invited Binghamton, Stephen F. Austin and Howard to take part as well.
Ranked in the Top-25 earlier this season, SMC has lost only once at home in seven games, bowing to Vanderbilt by a mere two points in the middle of November. The team's only other setback came against USC during last week's tourney, a 60-49 decision at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Gaels did manage to bounce back on Christmas day though, putting up an 84-75 win against host Hawaii.
As for the Bearcats, they've been watching from the sidelines since taking care of the Marist Red Foxes on the road nine days ago, 70-52. The victory snapped a three-game slide for a Binghamton squad that is trying to record back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
The Gaels won the only previous meeting between these two programs back during the 2003-04 campaign, recording a 76-58 win in the season opener for the Bearcats during the Top of the World Classic in Alaska.
These two teams will change partners with Stephen F. Austin and Howard to complete the two-day event tomorrow.
The Bearcats shot a staggering 57.4 percent from the field against Marist in the most recent game, offsetting an awkward 18 turnovers in the process. Greer Wright tallied a team-best 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the floor, while Dylan Talley tacked on 17 points, seven boards and three assists. Although he shot just 1-of-4 from the floor, Pina Guillaume made himself known off the bench with his 13 boards. Despite his mere 31.3 percent shooting from three- point range so far this season, Wright continues to lead this group in scoring with his 13.3 ppg and is also first with his 31 assists and 15 steals, not to mention tying for the team lead with 5.2 rpg as well. Talley is responsible for another 11.3 ppg, yet this is a unit that is shooting only 60.4 percent at the free-throw line and with 57.8 ppg is one of the lowest scoring programs in all of Division I.
The Gaels utilized just two players off the bench against Hawaii on Christmas, but really there wasn't even a need for the reserves as every SMC starter scored in double figures in the win. Omar Samhan, who earned his third West Coast Conference Player of the Week award before hitting the islands, was responsible for 24 points, seven boards and four blocks before fouling out, while Mickey McConnell put up 17 points, six assists, four boards and four steals as well. Ben Allen tacked on 15 points and both Matthew Dellavedova and Clint Steindl 12 points for a team that knocked down all but two of its 31 free-throw chances. Samhan continues to average a double-double with his 21.1 points and 11.2 rebounds per contest, making him one of the most dangerous players on the west coast no matter what conference he plays in right now. The other key performer for the Gaels has been McConnell, who is not only averaging 12.1 ppg on the strength of his 51.2 percent shooting beyond the arc, but is also averaging six assists per game as well.
Even though the Gaels lost some vital pieces from their 2008-09 team, Samhan and McConnell still have the group playing at a high level and will easily get by the Bearcats in this game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's-CA 88, Binghamton 60
12/29 10:34:00 ET