LIU Gameday Preview – Game 20 (NEC Game 9) – Central Connecticut

Opponent: Central Connecticut

Record: 3-18, 1-7 NEC (Last game: W vs Wagner, 53-50
KenPom Ranking: 343
Tip-Off Time: 7:00pm
Location: Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row; Audio: Red Zone Media
Meeting History: 38th all-time meeting. Central Connecticut leads the series, 19-18. LIU took the first meeting back on January 15 up at CCSU by a score of 71-66.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Central Connecticut: Matt Mobley (G), Kevin Seymour (G), Khalen Cumberlander (G), Brandon Peel (F), Faronte Drakeford (F)

LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Joel Hernandez (F), Nura Zanna (F)

Opponent Preview:

Central Connecticut State has been having a miserable season. They had won just two of the previous twenty games and looked like they would drop another heartbreaker when they played Wagner last Saturday. Wagner’s Marcus Burton hit a long, desperation three with one second left that look like would seen the game into overtime. But CCSU pulled off a miracle as Faronte Drakeford fired a pass three-quarters court to Brandon Peel and he hit just his second career three to give CCSU their first NEC win of the season and breaking their eleven-game losing streak.

Now CCSU, who are only two games back of the final NEC tournament position, have some renewed optimism heading into this game with LIU.

Sophomore guard Matt Mobley, the likely favorite for NEC most improved player this season, still leads the Blue Devils in scoring with 17 points per game. He was once the NEC leading scorer but is now down to third in the NEC. Mobley’s scoring has tailed off over the last six games as he has averaged just 11.2 points per game and shooting 34% from the field in that span. Mobley struggled in the first meeting versus LIU going just 1 for 7 from the field for 7 points.

6’7″ senior forward Faronte Drakeford is a potential double-double man every time he steps on the court. He is averaging 11.9 points per game to go along with his 6.8 rebounds per game. He has had two double-doubles this season including a 12-point, 17-rebound performance against Mount St. Mary’s. Drakeford is shooting just 38.3% from the field and getting 31 minutes of playing time per game. Had a bit of a quiet week last week as he averaged 7.5 points per game and 5 rebounds per game. Went for 19 points in their loss to Bryant this season.

As to the aforementioned Brandon Peel who is averaging 9.3 ppg and 8.8 rpg which is good for the second in the NEC, he has a having himself a very solid season. He has had five double-doubles this season including one in their last game against Wagner where he had 17 points and 13 rebounds. Against Robert Morris he went for 11 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. He is a terror on the boards who has really improved his offensive game over the last couple of seasons. He scored a career-high 20 points against LIU in the first meeting.

Khalen Cumberlander is also one to watch. He is averaging 9.5 points per game and shooting 33% from three. He hasn’t had the same impact in NEC play as he did in non-conference play but is still a threat from the perimeter. Scored 11 points in the last meeting versus LIU. He scoring average is down over a point in NEC play at 8.3 points per game in his six NEC games.

CCSU is still last in the NEC in scoring offense at 58.0 points per game. They score just 0.89 points per possession, last in the NEC. They are last in field goal percentage (39.5%), and two-point field goal percentage (42.6%) and eighth in three-point shooting percentage (31.3%). They have dropped to sixth in the NEC in rebounding at 29.5 boards per game. They are the third-worst team in the NEC in turnovers with 13.9 per game.

On defense, they give up 69.9 points per game and allow 1.07 points per possession, second-worst in the NEC ahead of Wagner. Opponents are making 53.7% of their two-point shots and 33.9% of their threes. They only force 10.8 turnovers per game but they do get over three blocks and five steals per game.

LIU Spotlight:

The spotlight is on LIU’s latest NEC Rookie of the Week Martin Hermannsson who of the three starting freshmen, has been playing the most consistently in NEC play so far. Hermannsson is now LIU’s second-leading scorer with 10.3 points per game. He has also been playing good all-around basketball. He is rebounding, he is dishing off as well as now he starting to get more steals on the defensive end.

Hermannsson was very assertive in LIU’s win over FDU last Saturday which got him to the free throw line a season-high 15 times in which he made twelve and helped him to a season-high 21 points while only having to take six shots. He is scoring nearly 12 points per game in NEC play thus far and is up to third in the entire NEC in free throw shooting approaching 86%.

If there is still one thing he needs to improve on is his three-point shooting. He is still under 30% for the season at 26.2% from three. If he can get that dimension of his game going, he is too be a tough defensive matchup for teams the rest of the way.

LIU’s Keys to the Game:

– Be fast but don’t hurry: LIU should continue to play fast and get out in transition on every opportunity but also be mindful of taking good shots and getting good looks at the basket.

– Get them into foul trouble: CCSU is not a deep team. LIU should be aggressive and try to attack the rim and see if their bigs can get themselves into foul trouble, in particular Drakeford and Peel.

– Keep CCSU off offensive glass: CCSU is not a great shooting team but they are a good offensive rebounding team as they collect nearly 31% of their misses.

– Free throws: The Blackbirds need to do a better job of making their free throws. It nearly cost them against FDU when they missed 16 free throws in a four-point win.

LIU Notes:

– Landon Atterberry missed both games last week due to illness although he was available in an emergency in Saturday’s game against FDU. He should be back in the lineup this week.

– Glenn Feidanga nearly had a double-double in just his second game back from his latest missed stint with nine points and nine rebounds off the bench.

– This is LIU’s first game at the Steinberg Wellness Center in three weeks. They last played there on January 8th against Sacred Heart in LIU’s double overtime win.

KenPom Game Prediction: LIU Brooklyn, 71-60. LIU win probability: 87%.

Next Up: 

LIU Brooklyn heads across Fulton Street to Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights to play St. Francis Brooklyn, in probably the premier NEC rivalry, at the Pope Center in the annual Battle of Brooklyn game on Saturday, January 31st for a 4pm tip. The game will be an NEC-TV game which will air on MSG Network and FOX College Sports.

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