KenPom Rank/RPI: 236/173
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Knott Arena, Emmitsburg, MD
TV/Web/Radio Coverage: Web: NECFrontRow.com
History between teams: 48th meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads the all-time series 25-22. LIU Brooklyn has won the last six meetings.
Who to watch for on Mount St. Mary’s:
#22 Rashad Whack – 6’2″ – G – Jr. – 13.2 ppg/3.2 rpg/40.0 FG%/76.6 FT% – Scored season and career-high 35 pts vs Sacred Heary, scored 22 pts vs Central Connecticut State in last game.
#3 Sam Prescott – 6’3″ – G – Jr. – 11.0 ppg/3.6 rpg/38.5 FG%/75.4 FT% – Scored season and career-high 44 pts vs Bryant, scored 18 pts vs Central Connecticut State in last game.
Matchups to watch:
Julian Norfleet & Shivaughn Wiggins vs Jason Brickman & C.J. Garner: This is a excellent backcourt matchup. Wiggins has been playing outstanding basketball over the last five weeks while Norfleet has the potential of having a big game. Both will handle the ball a lot for the Mount. While Garner’s one-man fast break has been explosive of late and Brickman just goes about his business dropping assists to his guys. Slowing down Norfleet & Wiggins will be big. If they get going and also get their big scorers Sam Prescott and Rashad Whack involved, LIU could be facing a long night.
The Mount Scouting Report:
Two of the hotter NEC teams square off in one of several key games in the NEC Thursday night. Mount St. Mary’s are winners of three-straight and five out of their last six and see themselves currently in seventh place in the NEC standings after starting their season 2-6.
There has been some changes to MSM since LIU Brooklyn last played them back at the Barclays Center on January 12th. MSM head coach Jamion Christian has made changes to his starting lineup as he now employs a four-guard, one-forward lineup. Christian now goes with a starting lineup of leading scorer guard Rashad Whack and Julian Norfleet who has started all season, guard Sam Prescott who just recently got into the starting lineup, freshman guard Shivaughn Wiggins who was permanently inserted into the starting lineup after the first LIU game, and senior forward Raven Barber who has started the last six games for them.
Since Prescott has been inserted into the starting lineup three games ago, MSM haven’t loss and they’ve been winning by an average of 11 points. Prescott has gotten a lot of attention since he went for 44 points last Thursday against Bryant at home where he was 16 of 24 shooting, going 10 of 14 from three. Before that game, his season-high was 16 points. He cooled off in his last game vs CCSU scoring just 18 points and going just 1 of 7 from three.
Rashad Whack continues as the Mount’s leading scorer at 13.2 points per game. Over the last six games, Whack is averaging 17.5 ppg on close to 42% field goal shooting and 39% three-point shooting. He scored 18 points last time vs LIU. Julian Norfleet is starting heat up his game at the right time. In his last game, he scored 21 against CCSU and the game prior, he dished out 11 assists against Bryant. He has scored 10.5 ppg over his last four games.
The fourth guard in this four-guard starting lineup is Shivaughn Wiggins who at this moment, might be the front-runner for NEC Rookie of the Year over LIU’s E.J. Reed. Wiggins has started the last ten games for MSM. Since his insertion into the starting lineup, Wiggins is averaging 13.6 ppg. He was averaging 4.2 ppg in his first 13 games with all but one game coming off the bench. Wiggins has taken full opportunity of his starter minutes.
The one guy starting over 6’3″ is 6’8″ forward Raven Barber who is only getting just over 17 minutes a game over the last six games as a starter. Jamion Christian will use former starters, 6’9″ forward Kristijan Krajina and 7’0″ center Taylor Danaher off the bench. As well as sophomore forward Kelvin Parker, who has been playing well over his last four games, averaging 11.5 points per game.
The Mount is eighth in the NEC in scoring offense at 67.3 ppg and fifth in scoring defense at 71.5 ppg. The Mount shoot an effective field goal percentage of 50.4%, third in the NEC. They are in a three-way tie for fifth in the NEC in offensive points per possession at 0.99 ppp and is tied for sixth in the NEC at 1.04 ppp. MSM is also eleventh in the NEC in free throw percentage at 66% and last in rebounding at 24.8 rpg. Yet, they are third in steals at 8.7 steals per game and force the second-most turnovers at 16.6 a game. They also give up an effective shooting percentage of 53% to their opponents which is the last in the NEC.
The Mount is 8-2 at home this season, losing to just FDU and Wagner at Knott Arena.
LIU Brooklyn Report:
LIU comes into this game tied with Robert Morris for first place at 10-4 in the NEC. The Blackbirds will have to take on the most challenging schedule of the top four teams in the league. LIU may need to win out their remaining games and hope Robert Morris loses a game to get the NEC regular-season championship and the 1-seed which will at least get them an automatic bid to the NIT tournament.
Senior forward Jamal Olasewere continues to lead the Blackbirds. Olasewere is now ten rebounds shy of 900 rebounds which would make him the fifth LIU Brooklyn Blackbird to grab 900 rebounds in his career. He would also become the second player in NEC history to have 1700 points and 900 rebounds (CCSU’s Corsley Edwards). He is now 75 points shy of 1800 points for his career which at his current pace, he could get in the regular season finale.
Senior C.J. Garner is averaging 17.2 ppg over his last four games. Junior Jason Brickman is averaging 9.5 ppg and 9.6 apg over his last eight games. Senior Brandon Thompson has been held to single-digits in each of his last three games and four of his last five. Freshman E.J. Reed is averaging 7.5 ppg, 5 rpg and 3.5 fouls/gm in 20.7 minutes per game over his last four games. The bench is coming off their most productive scoring game of the season with 42 total points.
Keys to the Game:
– LIU is got to dominate on the glass. The Mount is not a great rebounding team. LIU is +7 over MSM in team rebounding margin. They got to win the battle of the boards.
– The Blackbirds is got to protect the basketball. MSM is one of best turnovers forced and stealing teams in the NEC. LIU is got to prevent turnovers as to not allow MSM to get easy points in transition.
– Olasewere is got to have a big game. LIU has to take advantage of the size differential and get Olasewere the ball in the post and let him operate his game. You may also see E.J. Reed have a good game scoring and rebounding-wise.
– If LIU defensively can keep MSM to under 45% shooting and have them around 40% then the Blackbirds should be in good shape.
Ken Pomeroy’s Game Projection:
Ken Pomeroy on his website has Mount St. Mary’s beating LIU Brooklyn by a projected score of 78-77 with a 52% probability of a Mount St. Mary’s win.
The Blackbirds head to Staten Island for a much anticipated matchup against the Wagner Seahawks on Sunday, February 24th. Tip is scheduled for 8:00pm. The game will be broadcast on national television on ESPNU.