Opponent: Robert Morris
Record: 12-12, 8-4 NEC (Last game: W at Fairleigh Dickinson, 76-62)
KenPom Ranking: 195
Tip-Off Time: 7:00pm
Location: Sewall Center – Moon Township, PA
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row
Meeting History: 70th all-time meeting. Robert Morris leads the series, 40-29. LIU Brooklyn won first meeting last week at LIU, 72-65. Broke RMU’s three-game winning streak in the series.
Projected Starting Lineups:
LIU Brooklyn: Elvar Friðriksson (G), Gerrell Martin (G), Martin Hermannsson (G), Joel Hernandez (F), Nura Zanna (F)
Robert Morris: Kavon Stewart (G), Marcquise Reed (G), Rodney Pryor (G), Lucky Jones (F), Aaron Tate (F)
Last week at the Steinberg Wellness Center, the Blackbirds used one of their best second halves of the season to beat Robert Morris for the first time since the 2011-12 NEC Championship game. RMU played the game without forward Lucky Jones who missed the game due to a concussion he got the previous game.
Jones did return in their previous game against Fairleigh Dickinson which was a 76-62 victory. Jones lead RMU in the game with 24 points and six rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Jones is third on the team in scoring just behind Rodney Pryor at 13.8 points per game. He still is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.4 rebounds per game.
Without Jones, RMU needed even more scoring production from their two leading scorers in freshman Marcquise Reed and aforementioned Pryor.
Reed was good as advertised against LIU last week. Reed dropped in a game-high 22 points on 9 of 14 shooting. Reed recently won his sixth, yes sixth NEC Rookie of the Week award after another terrific week. Reed is on his way to winning the NEC Rookie of the Year crown. He showed a dazzling array of scoring ability whether it was by driving to the basket, knocking short jumpers, hitting runners, knocking down long jumpers, there was nothing much shooting-wise he could do wrong. The one thing LIU did make him do was force turnovers. He had a season-high nine turnovers in their loss last week. He also fouled out for the fourth time all season in the game. Look for him to try to put up similar scoring numbers in this one.
Pryor scored 17 points in the loss to LIU last week. It was a very quiet 17 though as he was just 7 for 18 from the field. He did grab a team-high eight rebounds. He followed it up with a much more quiet game with just nine points on just six shot attempts against FDU on Saturday. After his breakout 28-point, 11-rebound game against FDU at home on January 29, Pryor has averaged just 11 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game and shooting 31.5% from the field in the three games since.
Sophomore Kavon Stewart didn’t have a good game against LIU the first time around. He scored just four points on one of ten shooting but did dish out eight assists in the game and grabbed five steals although he also had five turnovers. He finally broke out of a mini-slump against FDU on Saturday, scoring 12 points on five of six from the field.
Freshmen Elijah Minnie and Andre Frederick who both a combined 41 minutes for a combined 10 points (all scored by Minnie) against LIU, were both suspended for the FDU game on Saturday for violation of team rules. According to Chris Cappella of ColonialCorner.com, both are expected to return. Also Cappella tweeted that senior guard David Appolon who along with Jones missed the LIU game last week is expected to be a game-time decision with a shoulder injury after sitting out both RMU games last week.
LIU Brooklyn’s defense has come a long way since last season when it seemed like teams would score at will against them.
Although it is not at the level of a St. Francis Brooklyn this season or a Robert Morris from seasons past, LIU has made great strides on the defensive end of the court.
Last season, LIU allowed 1.0 or more points per possession a ridiculous 25 times in 29 games last season. They were dead-last in the NEC in points allowed (79.8 ppg), defensive points per possession (1.14 ppp), three-point shooting percentage allowed (39%), turnovers forced (10.7), and steals (4.3 spg).
This season though after a rough start against tough competition, LIU had greatly turned it around defensively. During their 0-6 start, LIU allowed 1.0 points per possession in each game. Since then, LIU has allowed opponents to score above 1.0 ppp just five times in seventeen games.
LIU is currently sixth in the NEC in points allowed (70.4 ppg), fifth in defensive points per possession (1.01 ppp) and opponent’s field goal percentage (44.2%), first in the NEC in three-point field goal percentage defense (31.4%). LIU is not last in any single defensive category this season.
The uptick in defensive play has helped LIU go 10-7 since their 0-6 start to the season.
LIU’s Keys to the Game:
– Repeat their attack on the offensive glass: RMU is 302nd in the nation in offensive rebound percentage allowed at 34.5%. LIU took advantage last week with 17 offensive rebounds. LIU will need a similar offensive rebound advantage if they want to get the upset win on the road.
– Keep them away from the three: RMU was just 2 of 13 from three in LIU’s win over them last week. That may be a little tough to repeat on the road but if LIU can kept them from scoring threes in bunches and keep them under 30% from three, it will serve the Blackbirds well.
– Signature Road Win: LIU doesn’t have that signature road win this season. A win at RMU would definitely constitute as one. It would be a great way for them to start this tough three-game road trip.
KenPom Game Prediction: Robert Morris, 73-65. LIU win probability: 20%.
The Blackbirds continues their current three-game road trip as they head over to Loretto, PA to take on Saint Francis U. for a Valentine’s Day early afternoon affair. Tip-off time is schedule for 1:00pm.