Opponent (Conference Affiliation): Lamar Cardinals (Southland)
Current KenPom Ranking: 338 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 268 – up from 270 before previous game)
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Steinberg Wellness Center, Brooklyn, NY
Meeting History: 2nd all-time meeting. Lamar leads series 1-0. Last meeting: @ Lamar, 81-80, L (2012-13)
Lamar Players to Watch:
1. Nimrod Hilliard #11 – 6’0″ Guard – Jr. – 15.2 ppg/4.3 rpg/5.6 apg/44.8 FG%/36.4 3FG%/35.3 mpg
2. Amos Wilson #34 – 6’5″ Forward – Sr. – 13.3 ppg/4.8 rpg/51.6 FG%/29.9 mpg
3. Donovan Ross #21 – 6’5″ Forward – Jr. – 10.7 ppg/5.7 rpg/55.1 FG%/32.1 mpg
Lamar is coached by Pat Knight, son of former Army, Indiana and Texas Tech legendary head coach Bob Knight. Knight took the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament two seasons ago with a senior-laden team. Last season, Lamar had a long season as the Cardinals went 3-28 and this season are once again off to a rough start at 1-8.
The Cardinals come in ninth in the Southland Conference in scoring offense at 66.8 ppg. They score 0.918 points per possession. Thus far this season they are averaging 72.8 possessions per game. They shoot 43.5% from the field and 32.6% from three. They also average 13.6 turnovers per game.
Knight likes to go about eight to nine players deep. Lamar is led by junior guard Nimrod Hilliard who is a transfer from South Dakota. Hilliard leads the Cardinals in scoring with 15.2 ppg. He has scored in double digits in every game he has played this season. His best scoring game this season came in Lamar’s season opener against Butler where he scored 23 points in a loss. He also recently had a double-double versus Arkansas State in which he had 17 points and 14 rebounds.
A potentially more dangerous scorer for Lamar is 6’5″ senior forward Amos Wilson. He is averaging 13.3 ppg but his points per 40 minutes is 17.8 which is first on Lamar in that category. Wilson is on a five-game double digit scoring streak coming off back-to-back 20-point games. He is also coming off back-to-back foul outs and have fouled out three times this season and has come close to fouling out in another two games.
6’5″ junior forward Donovan Ross is the final Lamar player averaging in double figures with 10.7 ppg. Ross is shooting 55% from the floor and over 90% from the free throw line. He got off to a fast start to the season with four straight double digit scoring outings including 23 points against Savannah State but since then he is averaging just 5.2 ppg.
Defensively, Lamar is similar to LIU in which they will give up points. Lamar gives up 78.8 ppg on the defensive end. They give up 1.08 ppp on defense and they allow the opposition to shoot nearly 50% from the field against them and 36.6% from three. So with two struggling defenses, one should expect to see LIU be in another high scoring game.
LIU Brooklyn comes into this game after surviving a scare against NJIT to get their first road win of the season. The Blackbirds nearly blew in 17-point lead to win by three in a high-scoring shootout.
Jason Brickman now owns the NEC career assist record with his current 808 career assists. He is still on pace to have a double-double for the season with his current 11.1 ppg and 9.9 apg. Brickman is currently on a run of double-digit scoring games with four. He has had five double-doubles already this season which matches the amount he had last season and the season before that. Brickman has also raised his three-point shooting percentage up to 34.1% after a slow 3 of 20 start to the season.
Gilbert Parga status for this game is unknown after he injured his right ankle just before the half against NJIT. He didn’t play in the second half. Parga recently returned to the court after missing two games with a lacertaed elbow. Parga was red-hot in his return back going 9 for 11 from the floor. His 12.1 ppg average leads LIU.
LIU Brooklyn now has five players scoring above 11 ppg with Brickman, Parga, E.J. Reed, Landon Atterberry and Gerrell Martin.
Freshman Iverson Fleming was recently named NEC Rookie of the Week after his 22-point breakout performance against NJIT. He went 8 for 11 from the field against NJIT. He had taken just nine shots total before the NJIT game and had six total points.
LIU has gotten their offensive points per possession over a point at 1.029 but are still given up 1.17 ppp which is dead last in the NEC and nearly at the bottom in nation.
The Blackbirds now have two straight games they have out-rebounded their opponents after getting out-rebounded in their first seven games.
The LIU offense looks like it has found their stride after scoring above 1.0 ppp in three of the last four games. Their defense still leaves a lot to be desired. LIU opponents have hit 90 points in two of their last three games. LIU can’t allow Lamar to score above a point per possession. If LIU can hold Lamar to under 70 points, they should win this game rather comfortably but they also need to keep winning the battle under the boards as they have been lately and protect the basketball and not turn the ball over.
KenPom Score Projection: 88-75 LIU Brooklyn (LIU Win Probability: 86%)
Next up for the Blackbirds:
LIU Brooklyn heads over to the Barclays Center for their second game of the season at the home of the Brooklyn Nets as the Blackbirds will take part for the second straight year in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitation as LIU faces the Temple Owls on Saturday, December 21 in the middle game of the triple-header. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30pm.