Niagara (0-0) at Oregon State (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, Nov. 9, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gill Coliseum (9,604) -- Corvallis, Oregon.
Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Niagara0-0, Oregon State 0-0. Away
Record: Niagara 0-0, Oregon State 0-0. Neutral Record: Niagara 0-0, Oregon
State 0-0. Conference Record: Niagara 0-0, Oregon State 0-0. Series Record:
GAMES NOTES: As part of the 2K Sports Classic, the Niagara Purple Eagles will
make a trip to the Pacific Northwest to square off with an Oregon State
Beavers squad coming off its first 20-win season in 21 years.
The longest tenured coach in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Joe
Mihalich has not had much success with the Purple Eagles in the last two
seasons. Niagara is just 23-42 during that span, including last season's 14-19
effort. Youth was a major reason Niagara struggled last season as it featured
the third-youngest team in the country although those youngsters weren't all
too bad. That was especially true for Juan'ya Green who earned Mid-American
Freshman of the Year honors.
The Pac-12 had a down season last year, with only two teams in the NCAA
Tournament. The same could not be said for Oregon State, which won 20 games
for the first time in more than two decades and a nice run in the College
Basketball Invitational. Matching those numbers wont' be easy considering
Oregon State's best player, Jared Cunningham, decided to forgo the remainder
of his college career by declaring early for the NBA Draft.
This is the first meeting between these squads which are separated by more
than 2,500 miles. Niagara has played nine games against current Pac-12 members
and has a 4-5 record all-time in those contests.
Green is already one of the best players in the MAAC. He poured in points from
all over the floor (17.7 ppg) and contributed in a multitude of other ways
including on the glass (3.2 rpg) and in distribution (4.5 apg). Green isn't
just an offensive threat though as he can also defend. He collected 63 steals
last season but could stand to improve even more. In fact the entire team
could use some improvement on defense after the Purple Eagles were lit up for
74.2 points per game last season. Another young play will be there to
complement Green in Antoine Mason. As a redshirt freshman, Mason scored 14.1
points per game. Mason's efforts earned him a spot on the All-MAAC Rookie
team. The double-digit scorers on the roster do not stop there with Marvin
Jordan (10.4 ppg) also back in the mix. All that offense returning should
keep the Purple Eagles at the same type of production they were at least
season when they averaged 70.4 points per game.
There are a number of teams that lost prolific underclassmen last season to
the NBA Draft, just ask Kentucky. However Cunningham's departure came as a
bit of a surprise for Oregon State, as he ranked second in the conference in
scoring (17.9 ppg). Finding other outlets will be vital for the Beavers, who
score at a torrid pace. In fact the Beavers' 78.9 points per game was the 10th
best mark in the country. Devon Collier (13.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg) is the team's
leading returning scorer and is very effective around the hoop after shooting
a Pac-12 best 61.5 percent from the floor. Eric Moreland (5.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
protects the rim and rebounds well, while Angus Brandt (9.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg) will
further extend the depth and production from the frontcourt. In the backcourt,
Ahmad Starks (12.1 ppg, 2.7 apg) will continue to be the main ball-handler.
Starks can knock it down from just about anywhere on the floor and is a
fearless three-point shooter (.371 percent). Roberto Nelson (9.3 ppg) also
flirted with double digit last season.
Offense will not be in short supply in this game with both teams featuring a
number of strong scorers. The Purple Eagles are at a disadvantage though with
the long travel time they will be dealing with. However this game could be
barometer for Green to see if he can compete beyond the smaller MAAC
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon State 81, Niagara 74
11/09 10:34:51 ET
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