Opponent: NJIT (Independent)
Record: 4-6 (Last game: L at Dartmouth, 76-66)
KenPom Ranking: 268
Tip-Off Time: 3:30pm
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 is a perfect 3-0 vs NJIT. This is the team’s fourth matchup in the last five seasons. NJIT won last season’s meeting, a 96-93 shootout.
Projected Starting Lineups:
LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Landon Atterberry (F), Nura Zanna (F)
NJIT: Damon Lynn (G), Ky Howard (G), Winfield Willis (G), Tim Coleman (F), Daquan Holiday (F)
NJIT has been riding a huge wave since they upset Michigan on the road last weekend for the biggest win in program history. NJIT is still college basketball’s only independent team as they continue their search for a conference invitation.
After upsetting Michigan, the Highlanders beat NEC-favorites St. Francis Brooklyn in the first home game after their big upset win in front of a nearly sold out crowd. On Friday, they lost to Holy Cross of the Patriot League on the road to snap their mini two-game win streak.
NJIT is coached by Jim Engles who is in his seventh season as head coach. He has practically built that entire program from scratch and last season guided them to a 13-16 season. This season, NJIT are 4-6 and have gone 3-2 in their last five games after a 1-4 start.
The Highlanders’ leading scorer is 5’11” sophomore point guard Damon Lynn who is averaging 18.6 ppg. Lynn have scored in double-figures in every game this season. He scored a season-high 27 points against Duquesne in a game where he hit six of eleven three-pointers. He had a streak of 20 or more points scored in four consecutive games until their last game against Holy Cross. He has made 40% of his three-pointers this season connecting on 43 of 106 attempts.
Ky Howard is NJIT’s second leading scorer. He is a 6’3” junior guard who is averaging 13.1 ppg. He is also leading the team in rebounding (6.4 rpg), assists (3.7 apg), and field goal percentage (62.1%). He is third on the team in three-point field goal percentage at 38.5%. Howard is coming off his best scoring performance of the season of 23 points against Holy Cross. He scored 17 points in NJIT’s win against Michigan.
NJIT’s leading front court player is 6’5” Tim Coleman who is averaging 7.5 ppg and 3.6 rpg. Coleman is shooting 47.8% from the field. He has made eight of fifteen threes. He scored a season-high 12 points against Maine.
Other contributions players are Winfield Willis (10.0 ppg), Daquan Holiday (5.6 ppg) and Rob Ukawuba (4.3 ppg).
NJIT is scoring 63.1 ppg and are scoring 0.97 points per possession. They are hitting nearly 49% of their two-point shots and 37% of their threes. Defensively, NJIT gives up 71.7 points per game. They give up 1.02 points per possession.
The spotlight in this game will be freshman point guard Elvar Friðriksson. It is not just because he is coming off his best game as a Blackbird with his 19 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds performance against Maine this past Tuesday. He will be matched up a lot defensively with NJIT’s best player in Damon Lynn. So not only will he have his offensive responsibilities to take care but he will have to work on the defensively end as well trying to keep their best player from dominating on the offensive end for NJIT.
Friðriksson’s scoring output has increased in each of the past three games as well as his assists and rebounding totals. His assists-to-turnover ration is very close to 3-to-1 with 33 assists to 12 turnovers. Along with leading the team in scoring currently at 10.7 ppg, he is also leading the team in minutes played at around 32 minutes per game.
LIU’s Keys to the Game:
– Get fouled without fouling. NJIT gives up over 21 fouls per game and have given 32 free throw attempts they have taken this season. LIU will need to play fast and aggressive.
– LIU needs to use their size advantage. LIU is not a big team but against NJIT they will be. NJIT only features three who are 6’5” and two players who are 6’8” and over. LIU needs to use their height and size advantage on the glass and the defensive game.
– Get the home crowd into it. LIU is 0-2 at home so far this season at a place they have had a ton of success especially in the last several seasons. LIU needs to get a good start and stay ahead and use the crowd to their advantage in what could be a tight game.
KenPom Game Prediction: LIU Brooklyn, 71-70. LIU win probability: 55%.
LIU Brooklyn heads a few blocks down to the Barclays Center for the first time this season as they take on Florida International on Thursday, December 18th at 7pm.