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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, February 15, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McCann Center (3,200) -- Poughkeepsie, New York. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Niagara 9-3, Marist 4-6. Away Record: Niagara 5-7, Marist 2-10. Neutral Record: Niagara 0-1, Marist 1-2. Conference Record: Niagara 10-4 9-5, Marist 4-10. Series Record: Niagara leads, 21-15.
GAMES NOTES: Desperate for a win to keep their spot at the top of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the Niagara Purple Eagles visit the Marist Red Foxes at the McCann Center on Friday night.
Though it remains in first place in the MAAC standings at 10-4 in league play, Niagara has looked vulnerable recently with losses in three straight games, including a pair to Loyola and Canisius who are nipping at the Purple Eagles' heels. Overall Niagara is 14-11 and will get set to play its last road game of the season on Sunday against Manhattan.
Marist has begun to pick up some steam as the regular season nears its conclusion as the Red Foxes have earned victories in each of their last two games following a four-game slide. The Red Foxes are just 7-18 overall and 4-10 in league action and unlikely to make a dent in the conference race other than as spoilers. Marist will visit Rider in its next contest.
On Jan. 3 Niagara routed Marist, 94-72 at the Gallagher Center to increase its all-time series lead to 21-15.
A second half rally came up short for Niagara against Canisius on Sunday. The Purple Eagles lost 77-70 in the contest by shooting just 38.7 percent from the field though they did knock down 10 shots from beyond the 3-point line. Four players scored in double figures for Niagara led by Juan'ya Green who erupted for 21 points.
Scoring has not been a problem for Niagara this season, but stopping other teams from doing so has proved to be. The Purple Eagles are scoring the second most points per game (74.9) among MAAC teams, but surrendering nearly as many at 73.5 points a contest. The Purple Eagles may be in trouble on offense in this game though as lead-scorer Antoine Mason (18.9 ppg) is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. Green (16.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg) is more than capable of filling the top offensive role as he proved against Canisius. Green also gets his teammates involved as the second best player in the MAAC in terms of assists. Ameen Tanksley (11.6 ppg) provides additional support for guard-heavy Niagara.
Led by a 23-point, 13-rebound double-double from Adam Kemp and an additional 21 points from Chavaughn Lewis, Marist was able to upset Loyola-Maryland its last time out, 69-64. Points from the free-throw line proved crucial in the contest as well as the Red Foxes more than doubled up the Greyhounds from the charity stripe (25-12).
The Red Foxes are also dealing with an injury to a key piece of the team with Devin Price (14.0 ppg) also listed as questionable with a sprained ankle. Chavaughn Lewis (15.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) remains as the top scorer on the roster as well as the only other player in double figures though he shoots just below 40 percent from the field. Kemp (9.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2;0 bpg) is one of the better big men in the conference, ranking third in rebounds and second in blocks, while clearly having the ability to fill it up. Marist hasn't had the same type of offensive success as Niagara. The Red Foxes are scoring just 64.1 points per game on 41.1 percent shooting, while among one of the three worst teams in the MAAC in terms of rebounding (32.7 pg). Marist allows 71.6 points per game on just under 45 percent shooting.
As the stretch run begins Marist has begun to show some fight. However the Red Foxes just don't have the track record, especially if Price is out, to expect to knock off another one of the MAAC's top teams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Niagara 72, Marist 66
02/15 10:32:19 ET