Opponent: Lehigh (Patriot League)
Record: 3-4 (Last game: W vs Saint Francis (PA), 61-59)
KenPom Ranking: 211
Tip-Off Time: 2:00pm
Location: Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row/Audio: Red Zone Media
Meeting History: Fourth all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads series 2-1. Lehigh won last meeting last season 76-69 at Lehigh.
Projected Starting Lineups:
LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Landon Atterberry (F), Nura Zanna (F)
Lehigh: Austin Price (G), Corey Schaefer (G), Kahron Ross (G), Tim Kempton (F), Jesse Chuku (F)
Lehigh is the second of three teams LIU Brooklyn will play who they also faced last season in non-conference action. The Mountain Hawks defeated LIU 76-69 at the Stabler Arena. Lehigh went on to have a 14-18 season, their first losing season in six years.
This year, they are off to a 2-4 start after four straight losses to begin their year to Villanova, Canisius, Rider and Columbia. They have won their last three games, against DePaul, Penn State Mont Alto and Saint Francis (PA).
Lehigh is led by 6’10” sophomore forward Tim Kempton who is their top returning scorer from last season. Kempton is averaging 15.7 ppg and 9.2 rpg and is hitting nearly 49% of his shots. He has scored in double figures in every game this season and has four double-doubles already. Last season, he had a double-double against LIU with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. He is going to be a tremendous challenge for LIU inside.
Another player who gave LIU difficulty in last season’s matchup was 6’8” junior forward Jesse Chuku. He also had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. This season though, he is just sixth on the team in scoring at 5.8 ppg and is grabbing 4.3 rpg. His season-high so far is just nine points and he is only shooting 37% from the field. He won’t shy away from taking an open three, he has made six of those this season.
Sophomore guard Austin Price is second on the team in scoring with 12.5 ppg. He scored 24 in their season opener versus Villanova. He also scored 19 against Rider. Last season, he scored 13 points against LIU. He can shoot the ball. He is shooting 43% from both the field and behind the three-point arc. He also getting two steals a game. LIU is going to need be aware of Price all game on both ends.
They are also getting good contributions from two freshmen guards in Brandon Alston (7.0 ppg) and Kahron Ross (6.5 ppg & 4.7 apg). Both are shooting close to 38% although Alston is shooting the ball better from three between the two.
Lastly, Corey Schaefer is the only senior in the main roatation. He is averaging 6.2 ppg but did have a 17 point game against DePaul this season. He did not play in the game against LIU last season. He is leading the team in field goal percentage, free throw percentage and three-point shooting percentage. When he shoots, he scores. He is has a team-high 1.35 points per shot.
Head coach Brett Reed has a steady rotation of eight guys but could go up to nine or ten deep on his bench. Lehigh is scoring 63.7 ppg and getting 0.911 points/possession. They are shooting 43.4% as a team from the field, making 48% of their two-point shots and 32% of their three-pointers. They’re also a 73.5% free throw shooting team.
On the defensive end, Lehigh is allowing 67.5 ppg and opponents are getting 0.98 points/possession. Opponents are making 40% of their shots against Lehigh, 49.5% from two-point range and 28.2% from three. They have a defensive turnover rate of 17.7% but are giving the ball away themselves 23.6% of their possessions. They don’t get a ton of steal but they do get lot of blocks.
The spotlight in this game will be on redshirt freshman Nura Zanna. He nearly got his first collegiate double-double Wednesday night against New Hampshire with nine points and a season-high 12 rebounds. After a solid first half vs UNH, they used a double-team against him in the second half that was pretty effective considered he had not yet seen a double-team this season. Although, it is possible Zanna will be double-teamed again especially if Landon Atterberry struggles offensively as he did Wednesday night, it is likely Lehigh will use either Tim Kempton or Jesse Chuku against him one-on-one.
Defensively is where his biggest challenge is going to be, guarding 6’10” Tim Kempton who is their leading scorer. He is going to have to battle hard for boards and at the same time keep himself out of foul trouble. Zanna was very impressive cleaning up the glass for LIU Wednesday night. They are going to need a similar effort from him in this game if they are to get their first win of the season.
LIU’s Keys to the Game:
– Can LIU make shots? Shot selection was an issue in the loss to UNH on Wednesday. They’ll need better shot selection so they can get the ball in the hoop. They are going to need to score if they are going to win this game. Scoring in the 50s is not going to cut it for this team.
– Senior Leadership? LIU can’t afford Landon Atterberry and Gerrell Martin to repeat their 0 for 12 performance from Wednesday night. Neither has had a true breakout game yet this season. This young group needs these guys to produce and be consistent. Their play in the few five games won’t cut it.
– Better bench play. The LIU bench needs to have a better showing then they did versus UNH. The Woods twins, Iverson Fleming, Joel Hernandez and Jamil Hood needs to bring the energy and hustle and make good decisions with the basketball. Hopefully, Glenn Feidanga who is back from his ankle injury can give them more minutes with a couple of practices under his belt.
– Will someone breakout? So far, the team-high in scoring for a game has been 15 points which came from a bench player in Joel Hernandez. No one is averaging double figures for LIU. Someone in the starting five needs to put a big-game performance together. Whether it’s Gerrell Martin, Martin Hermannsson or Nura Zanna, someone needs to have a big game and help carry this team to a win.
KenPom Game Prediction: Lehigh, 68-66. LIU win probability: 41%.
The Blackbirds takes to the road to face Maine on Tuesday, December 9 for a 7:00pm at the Cross Insurance Center. The game will be streamed live on AmericaEast.TV