Iona (15-12) at Indiana State (16-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 11 a.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hulman Center (10,200) -- Terre Haute, Indiana. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Iona 9-1, ISU 10-2. Away Record: Iona 5-8, ISU 4-8. Neutral Record: Iona 1-3, ISU 2-1. Conference Record: Iona 9-7, ISU 9-7. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams sporting identical 9-7 marks in their respective conferences meet in a BracketBuster event on Saturday, as the Iona Gaels pay a visit to the Indiana State Sycamores.
Iona is three games over .500 on the year (15-12), and the owns a 9-7 mark in the Metro Atlantic Conference, which has it three games off the pace set by first-place Niagara (16-11, 12-4). The Gaels only have three games left in the regular season, two in conference, and they are hoping for a reversal of fortunes here in the home stretch as they have lost two straight and five of their last six overall. Fairfield was the latest team to drop Iona, doing so in a 66-64 final on Monday. Three of the team's last five setbacks have been extra-session affairs, with two of them going to double-overtime.
Indiana State has had a similar season to that of its counterpart today, the team logging a 16-11 overall mark, which includes a 9-7 ledger in Missouri Valley Conference action. The Sycamores, who are hoping to put the brakes on a three-game slide with a win in this one, are also three games back in the race for the league's regular-season title, but with only two more conference games to play it's simply a matter of the team trying to position itself the best it can for the upcoming MVC Tournament. ISU's last outing resulted in a 66-62 loss at home to Wichita State on Tuesday.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between Iona and Indiana State in men's basketball.
Iona is the highest scoring team in the MAAC, averaging 81.5 ppg, that figure actually ranking it third in the country. The Gaels are fortunate to have two of the league's top-three scorers in the form of Lamont Jones (22.9 ppg, 3.6 apg) and Sean Armand (17.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.1 apg), as well another top-flight performer in David Laury (13.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg). Iona shoots a league-best 45.4 percent from the field, and its .382 3-point FG percentage ranks second. The Gaels also pace the conference in assists (15.4 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3), while checking in second in turnover margin (+2.2). Unfortunately, Iona is being torched for 76.8 ppg on 44.9 percent field goal accuracy and 37.8 percent 3-point FG efficiency, all of which rank the squad last in the MAAC. Jones scored 29 points, Armand added 14 and Laury had 12, but those efforts went for naught as the Gaels came out on the losing end of a 66-64 final at Fairfield earlier in the week. Iona made good on only 41.1 percent of its total shots, going 4-of-14 from beyond the arc in the process, and it was beaten badly on the boards (39-27). Fairfield's bench outscored Iona's, 30-17.
Indiana State is a middle-of-the-road team in the Missouri Valley Conference in most statistical categories, as it averages 67.6 ppg while allowing 65.4 ppg. The Sycamores have three double-digit scorers in the form of Jake Odum (14.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.6 apg), Manny Arop (12.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and R.J. Mahurin (10.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg), and it is coming off a game in which all three scored at least 13 points in what wound up as a four-point loss to Wichita State. Arop came within a whisker of logging a double-double, as he tallied 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Odum finished with a line of 15 points, six boards and five assists, and Mahurin chipped in with 13 points for an Indiana State squad that shot just 40.8 percent from the floor, and converted 7-of-19 3-point tries and 15-of-23 free throws. The Sycamores did a nice job on defense, allowing the Shockers just a 38.5 percent success rate on their field goal attempts, and ISU won the battle on the boards, 37-31. WSU's reserves scored 26 points, while ISU's bench accounted for only two.
These two teams are pretty evenly matched, so it's reasonable to expect a hard-fought battle throughout. In the end, winning on the road is awfully hard to do so the edge goes to the Sycamores.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Indiana State 74, Iona 72
02/23 10:31:03 ET