Blackbird Gameday Report – Game 12 – Sam Houston State Bearkats

LIUSHSUOpponent (Conference Affiliation): Sam Houston State (Southland)

Record: 7-4; 2-0 at home; Last game: Loss at Toledo, 77-61

Current KenPom Ranking: 205 out of 351 (LIU Brooklyn: 286 – down from 277 before previous game)

Time: 5:00 PM

Location: Johnson Coliseum, Huntsville, TX

TV/Web/Radio Coverage: Web: Bearkat Sports Network ($)

Meeting History: First all-time meeting.

Game Notes Links: LIU Brooklyn 

Sam Houston State Players to Watch:

1. Jabari Peters #1 – 6’4″ Guard – Jr. – 12.7 ppg/5.0 rpg/3.5 apg/35.4 FG%/38.7 3FG%/30.6 mpg
2. Kaheem Ransom #15 – 6’1″ Guard – Jr. – 11.3 ppg/4.9 rpg/3.4 apg/35.6 FG%/31.7% 3FG%/30.3 mpg
3. Paul Baxter #21 – 6’1″ Guard – So. – 9.2 ppg/1.5 rpg/2.6 apg/54.4 FG%/53.3 3FG%/26.8 mpg

Matchup to Watch: SHSU’s Jabari Peters vs LIU’s E.J. Reed

Game Report: 

LIU Brooklyn returns to the court after a week off for the Christmas break as they take on the Sam Houston State Bearkats for their first ever meeting.

Sam Houston State plays in the Southland Conference. They were picked to finished third in the Southland this season in their men’s basketball preseason poll. They enter this game with a 7-4 record with wins against James Madison and Toledo. Last season, SHSU finished 17-17 and ended up sixth in their conference.

The Bearkats are currently led by junior guard Jabari Peters. Peters is the team leader in points (12.7ppg), assists (3.5), steals (1.4) and minutes played (30.6). He has had three games where he has scored 20 or more points. Although, Peters leads the team in scoring, he is tenth on the team in field goal percentage with 35.4%. Peters is coming off a nine-point, 2 for 13 game against Toledo.

Junior guard Kaheem Ransom is the Bearkats’ second leading scorer at 11.3 ppg. Ransom started the season with five straight double digit scoring games including 23 points vs Texas-Pan American in the season opener. Since his nice start, Ransom production has fallen off. He is averaging 7.6 ppg over his last six games.

6’1″ sophomore guard Paul Baxter averages 9.2 ppg and leads the team in three-point shooting percentage at 53.3%. He scored a season-high 19 points in a loss against SMU. He leads the teams in fouls with 35 and has fouled out once already this season.

6’11” center Michael Holyfield has started all 11 games for SHSU this season. He is not much of a scoring threat for the Bearkats averaging just 4.7 ppg. His season-high is just 12 points and he has fouled out four times this season. But with LIU being so short-handed in the front court at the moment and with their season-long difficulties guarding tall bigs, he may have more of an impact than he usually would.

Sam Houston State head coach Jason Hooten likes to go about ten players deep on his bench. They score 77.5 ppg on offense and give up 68 points on the defensive end. The Bearkats score right at 1.00 points per possession and oddly enough they also give up 1.00 ppp. They keep teams to around 45% effective shooting percentage which is fourth in their conference.

LIU Brooklyn needed the week-long break after their worst loss of the season against Temple, losing by 36 points. This season, LIU has suffered two 30+ point losses. At 4-7, LIU already matches the amount of non-conference losses they had all of last season when they had a 5-7 non-conference season.

LIU’s Jason Brickman with his six assists against Temple last week, put himself in the 25th spot in the NCAA all-time career assist list with 826 assists passing Siena’s Ronald Moore. With eight or more assists against Sam Houston State, Brickman could move up to 22nd on the list. Brickman also needs 21 points to become LIU’s 33rd 1,000-point scorer.

LIU makes what seems like their annual visit to the state of Texas. In case you forgot, Texas is LIU’s strongest recruiting base state, they have had more players from Texas in the last five years than from any other state. This season, four players return back to Texas in seniors Julian Boyd and Jason Brickman and sophomores E.J. Reed and D.J. Griggs.

LIU will likely enter this Texas road trip with just ten players and eight scholarship players as injuries continue to rob LIU of their depth in particularly in the front court. Head coach Jack Perri doesn’t anticipate having junior guard/forward Gilbert Parga on this trip as he continues to recover from his latest injury, a strained achilles in his foot. Parga has missed the last two games with this injury and has missed four games this season with this injury and a lacerated elbow injury. Chris Carter will miss his second game with a broken right foot. Carter is schedule to be out at least six weeks. There is still no word on the progress of freshman guard Joel Hernandez who has yet to play this season with a hip injury. Sixth-year senior Julian Boyd (ACL) had been cleared to participate in limited practice with the team and is still on schedule for a January return to the court.

Sophomore forward E.J. Reed is coming off his first double-double of the season vs Temple while junior forward Landon Atterberry is coming his worst game as a Blackbird after just playing 7 minutes before fouling out against Temple.

The Blackbirds are looking to rebound off a very poor shooting performance against Temple where they shot just 28.8% for the game. They made just 5 of 28 threes and missed 15 of 43 free throw attempts.

There is nowhere to go but up for LIU’s defense. LIU is ranked 349th (or three-worst in the nation) in Division I in adjusted defensive efficiency at 117.2 which means LIU gives up 117.2 points per every 100 possessions to the opposition. That is terrible. Teams this season have been scoring almost at will against LIU. The Blackbirds weren’t a strong defensive team to begin with but add on the front court injuries so there is almost no depth and with the lack of size up front, teams have been getting to the rim with ease against LIU. Until guys start coming back from injuries, this situation won’t likely get any better.

For LIU to win this game, they need to solve the issue of front courts guys staying on the court. They just can’t afford to lose either Atterberry or Reed for extended minutes with foul trouble. Glenn Feidanga also has to do a better job of staying out of fouls as well. LIU also have to start making shots. Their offense was actually starting to look like what we are all used to seeing until Temple blew that all up. LIU has got to get back to playing in transition and taking and making good shots. Until the calvary returns from injury, they got to find a way to hold the fort defensively. Holding SHSU to 1.0 ppp might be best case scenario for now so the offense will really need to put up the points and get on the glass and make their free throws. They can’t afford a 60% night once again from the charity stripe.

KenPom Score Projection: 80-70 Sam Houston State (LIU Win Probability: 18%)

Next up for the Blackbirds:

LIU Brooklyn finishes off their non-conference schedule as they complete their two-game Texas road trip with a visit to Texas State on Monday, December 30. Tip-off time is schedule for 8:00pm.

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