Opponent: Fairleigh Dickinson
Record: 7-11 (Last game: Loss vs Sacred Heart, 78-77, OT)
KenPom Ranking: 316
Tip-Off Time: 4:30pm
Location: Stratis Arena – Hackensack, NJ
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row
Meeting History: 98th all-time meeting. FDU leads the all-time series 48-47. FDU won the first meeting of the season back on January 5th by a score of 75-69. FDU has won the last two games in the series.
Projected Starting Lineups:
LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Joel Hernandez (F), Nura Zanna (F)
FDU: Mustafaa Jones (G), Darian Anderson (G), Earl Potts Jr (G/F), Matt McDonald (F), Darius Stokes (F),
After getting off to a nice 2-0 start in the NEC with road wins over Central Connecticut and LIU, FDU has gone on a tailspin and has not won a game since that win at the Steinberg Wellness Center over two weeks ago. The Knights have lost their last five straight game, all of them by at least nine points with the exception of their latest loss which was to Sacred Heart on Thursday by one point in overtime.
FDU is now fifth in the NEC in scoring offense at 66.9 points/game with a fifth-best field goal percentage of 41.1% and third-best three-point shooting percentage of 37.1%. All numbers that have dropped since they last played LIU. They are now seventh in the NEC in offensive points per possession with 0.95 ppp. They are patient on offense, they don’t turn the ball over much and work their way to good shots and can hit the three-ball.
On defense, the Knights are a middle of the road defensive team. Opponents average 72.1 points/game and allow 1.05 points/possession which is eighth in the NEC. Teams this season are shooting 46.1% from the field. Teams have exploited the Knights inside as they have given up 52% on two-point shots but they have done a decent job guarding the three-point line, allowing just 34.6% from deep.
Senior guard Mustafaa Jones continues to lead the Knights in scoring at 14.2 points per game. Jones had a couple of off games against St. Francis Brooklyn (6 pts scored) and Bryant (0 points scored) before getting back to his double-digit scoring ways. He is coming off a season-high tying 22 points in the loss to Sacred Heart. He also leads the teams in minutes played (32.2), three-point shooting percentage (38.4% – 8th in the NEC) and free throw percentage (89.1% – 2nd in the NEC). He also get nearly two steals per game. He scored 19 in the first meeting against LIU.
Freshman Darian Anderson was the one responsible for hurting LIU badly in the first meeting. He scored a career-high 26 points in that win on 10 of 12 shooting. He is the Knights’ second leading scorer at 11.2 points/game. He leads them in assists with 2.3 apg and is shooting nearly 38% from three. He is coming off another good game where he scored 21 points against Sacred Heart.
Sophomore Matt McDonald is third on FDU in scoring with 9.3 points/game. He had a breakout 29-point game against Princeton this season. He currently shooting the ball at 42.5% from the floor and 37.5% from three. In his last game versus Sacred Heart, he scored 13 points and made three three-pointers.
Junior forward Xavier Harris (7.5 ppg/6.1 rpg) is still the Knights’ leading rebounder. One player who hurt LIU on the defensive end was 6’7″ Darius Stokes who had a career-high four blocks against the Blackbirds in their last meeting. They also have two more freshman who are in Herenda’s main rotation with Marques Townes (8.6 ppg) who has been play well in NEC play and Earl Potts Jr. (5.1 ppg) who has been somewhat inconsistent in this five-game losing streak for the Knights.
The spotlight has to be on LIU’s inconsistent play especially in their five NEC losses and their inability to finish out games. Let’s break it down.
In their seven conference games this season, LIU have led or been tied 67.8 percent of the time which is 192 minutes 45 seconds out of 285 total minutes. If you take away the last meeting against FDU in which LIU trailed most of the game but still had a three-point lead with 4:24 to play, it’s 76.6 percent of game action.
If LIU had manage to hold on to some of these second-half leads, LIU could likely be 4-3 or even 5-2 at this point instead of 2-5. They could have had an over .500 record with playing first-place Bryant twice, Mount and Wagner who are over .500 once.
The Blackbirds’ inconsistencies has come to the forefront and has taking away some big opportunities to get some unexpected wins. If the Blackbirds are to get themselves back into the NEC Tournament, they are going to need to start play more consistent on the defensive end so if they do go through long scoring drought, their defense can overcome it. If not, LIU could find themselves in the same predicament they found themselves last season.
LIU’s Keys to the Game:
– Two halves of defense: LIU needs to break the trend of one good half, one bad half. They need two solid halves on the defense end and not allow 40-plus points in a half to FDU.
– Hit the boards: LIU played a small lineup most of the game vs Bryant and were out-rebounded by eight in the game and six on the offensive glass. LIU needs to get to more rebounds and not allow so many offensive boards.
– Watch out for Mustafaa Jones and Darian Anderson: LIU can’t allow these two players to have big games like they did in the first meeting.
LIU Injury Update:
– Glenn Feidanga has returned to the LIU lineup after missing the last nine games with an ankle injury.
– Landon Atterberry missed the last game due to illness. His status for this game is unknown.
KenPom Game Prediction: Fairleigh Dickinson, 70-68. LIU Win Probability: 42%
The Blackbirds return back to the Steinberg Wellness Center for the first time in three weeks as they host Central Connecticut State for a 7:00pm game on Thursday, January 28th.