Opponent: Mount St. Mary’s
Record: 7-9 (Last game: W at Fairleigh Dickenson, 71-51)
KenPom Ranking: 234
Tip-Off Time: 2:00pm
Location: Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row; Audio: Red Zone Media
Meeting History: 52nd all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads the series, 27-24. LIU is 3-2 versus Mount St. Mary’s in the Jack Perri era. The two teams split the two meetings last season, both winning at home. LIU is 1-0 versus Mount St. Mary’s at the Barclays Center.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Mount St. Mary’s: Charles Glover (G), Lamont Robinson (G), Khalid Nwandu (G), Gregory Graves (F), Kristijan Krajina (F)
LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Joel Hernandez (F), Nura Zanna (F)
Mount St. Mary’s is a hard team to get a clear picture of. They played the hardest non-conference schedule of any NEC team which was the 28th hardest in the country. They came out of it with a 4-7 record and in six of those games lost by twenty points or more.
They start NEC play and lost by 25 in the conference opener at Robert Morris. Then they lost a heartbreaker at Wagner in double overtime in a game they should have won in regulation. But since that Wagner lost, they have turned it around. They have now won three straight by an average margin of just over 20 points.
It is not secret why they have sudden improved. They offense which had been struggling most of the season has awakened and the defense has been playing lights out. The Mount had just three games scoring over 1.0 points per possession until this current three-game winning streak in which they have done it every single game. Also defensively, over the last three games they have held teams to under 0.95 points per possession.
Here is what you need to know about the Mount under third-year head coach Jamion Christian. They love to play up and down. They absolutely love to shoot the three and they love to press you full court and force you into turnovers which they can convert into easy baskets in transition.
44% of the Mount shots this season has been from three and nearly 36% of their points come from three. If they are making their three, then you’re in trouble. The thing with them is, they are susceptible to giving up the two-point basket. Opponents make nearly 58% of their two-points shots.
The Mount’s top three scorers are Andrew Smeathers, Gregory Graves and Bryon Ashe. Smeathers is a 6’8″ junior transfer from Butler where he is getting his first chance at regular playing time. Smeathers though has played in only seven games and has missed the game vs FDU. He was seen with a walking boot on the bench during the game so his availability for this game could be up in the air. Smeather is averaging 11.4 ppg and nearly 5 rebounds. He scored a career-high 22 points in his last game against St. Francis Brooklyn on Saturday.
If Smeathers can’t go, more scoring responsibility will be placed on 6’7” junior Gregory Graves. He is averaging 10.4 ppg and grabbing nearly 7 rpg. He is coming his third double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds in their win over FDU. He went for a career-high 26 points in the double OT loss to Wagner. He has improved his three-point shot this season and has the Mount’s second-best three-point shooting percentage at 44% with 10 of 22 threes mades. Before this season, he had only made 8 of 33 threes in his career.
6’0” guard Byron Ashe is averaging 9 ppg in 20 minutes per game. He is also coming off a career-high 21 points against FDU Thursday night in a season-high 37 minutes. He is one of several weapons Christian comes off the bench with. 72 of Ashe’s 119 shots has come from three. He is shooting 37.8% from the field and 33% from three.
With ‘Mount Mayhem’ system style of play that Christian likes to use, he has to play a lot of guys in order to stay fresh and be able to play that style for forty minutes. No Mount players plays over 30 minutes and Christian will go as far as ten or eleven deep on his bench. So expect to see plenty of point guards Lamont Robinson and Khalid Nwandu, Chris Martin, bigs Kristijan Krajina and 7-footer Taylor Danaher as well as three-point bomber Will Miller.
The Mount enter this game ninth in scoring offense at 61.4 points per game and are eighth in the NEC in team shooting percentage at 39.3%. They score 0.92 ppp on offense in 65 possessions per 40 minutes. On defense, the Mount are fourth in the NEC in scoring defense at 67.8 points per game and ninth in the conference in defensive field goal percentage at 47.2%. Opponents scored 1.03 points per possessions. The Mount are tied for eighth in the NEC in rebounding margin.
The spotlight is on LIU guards who will need to come up with a big game on both sides of the court. The LIU starting guards of Elvar Friðriksson, Martin Hermannsson and Gerrell Martin are the top three scorers for the Blackbirds coming into this game and combine for 30.6 points per game this season. In addition to these three, recent starter Joel Hernandez is averaging 8.9 points per game while playing mostly at the four position this season. Iverson Fleming has had a nice sophomore season averaging 5.4 points per game in just over 18 minutes per game and has had opportunities to play down the stretches of games of late. Trevin Woods has averaged over 13 minutes per game in NEC play and is scoring 6 ppg off the bench. Jamil Hood’s minutes has slowly increased. In the last two games, he is averaging 12.5 minutes per game.
The guards are going to be put to the test by the Mount pressure defense and three-point shooting. LIU guards ball handling, decision-makings and perimeter are going to be put to the test and it is going to take the entire unit, starters and bench, to have a solid outing on both ends to get what would be a pretty big win against the Mount.
LIU’s Keys to the Game:
– Keep the turnovers to a minimum: Mount Mayhem thrives on turnovers. Eliminating the bad turnovers will be of the upmost priority.
– Stay with shooters: LIU has played a lot of zone this season, it will be interesting to see if LIU will play mostly man against the Mount because they like to shoot the three or will stay in a zone which could give shooters open looks.
– Stay out of foul trouble: With Nura Zanna and Landon Atterberry playing well of late especially Zanna, they need to stay on the court and out of foul trouble and keep the pressure on the Mount bigs inside.
LIU Injury Report:
– Jonathan Tshibuy after dressing for the FDU game last week, did not dress for the last two games. He has not played in a game this season due to a knee injury.
– Glenn Feidanga has now missed LIU’s last eight games due to his reoccurring ankle injury. At the moment, there is no definite timetable to his return.
KenPom Game Prediction: LIU Brooklyn, 64-63. LIU win probability: 54 %.
LIU head back on the road next week for a pair of games. First up, they head up to Smithfield, Rhode Island to take on the Bryant Bulldogs who defeated LIU in the NEC season opener at home. The game is on Thursday, January 22nd and tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm.