LIU Gameday Preview – Game 26 (NEC Game 15) – Mount St. Mary’s

Opponent: Mount St. Mary’s

Record: 12-13 (Last game: W vs Bryant, 75-68
KenPom Ranking: 210
Tip-Off Time: 7:00pm
Location: Knott Arena – Emmitsburg, PA
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row
Meeting History: 53rd all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads the series, 27-25. Mount St. Mary’s won the first meeting of the season, 61-54 at the Barclays Center.

Projected Starting Lineups:

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

Mount St. Mary’s: Charles Glover (G), Lamont Robinson (G), Khalid Nwandu (G), Gregory Graves (F), Kristijan Krajina (F)

Opponent Preview:

The last time LIU Brooklyn last saw Mount St. Mary’s, the Mount had pulled off an epic comeback against the Blackbirds down 17 points in the second half and continue on their winning streak which reached four.

Since then, the Mount have alternated wins and losses and are 8-6 coming into the game, tied with LIU and Saint Francis U. in the NEC standings for fourth-place. Two of these losses came in overtime to Robert Morris and at St. Francis Brooklyn plus a two-point loss at Bryant.

The Mount, thanks to their Mount Mayhem system, still force a high percentage of turnovers. Opponents turn the ball over on 21% of their possessions. They get steals on over 10% of their defensive possessions.

The Mount continue being a heavy three-point shooting team as over 42% of their shots are from behind the three-point arc. Just over 36% of their points come from the three-point line so they are live or die three-point shooting team. They come into this game shooting 32.7% from three while making 42.6% of their two-pointers.

Sophomore guard Bryon Ashe is the team’s leading scorers at 10.5 points per game. He is coming off a career-high 24 points against Bryant and has scored over 20 points per game in three conference games this season. He has scored in double-figures in five of his last six games. Ashe is shooting 42% from the field and over 34% from three. Ashe is doing all of this coming off the bench. He has not started a game for the Mount since November 22nd. Ashe scored nine in their win against LIU in January.

Junior forward Gregory Graves is the only other Mount player scoring over ten points per game. Graves has scored in double-figures in four of the last five games and averaged 13 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games last week. LIU held Graves to six points in that first meeting. He is shooting 42% from the field and 41.5% from the three.

Freshman point guard Lamont ‘Junior’ Robinson who was the best player for Mount in that first meeting. He finished with 12 points and five assists and was the engine in the Mount’s second-half comeback over LIU including hitting a dagger layup and getting a foul late in the game. He scored a season-high 22 points against St. Francis Brooklyn in a road loss earlier this season. Robinson, who is the shortest player in the Division I this season at 5’7″. He is shooting 36% from the field and 34% from three this season.

Butler transfer Andrew Smeathers is back for the Mount from a foot injury. He missed eight NEC games with the injury, but returned last week and averaged just three points in under 15 minutes a game. Smeathers though is a three-point sniper who fits perfectly in Jamion Christian’s Mount Mayhem system. Of his 65 shots attempted, 52 of those come from three. He is shooting 36.5% from beyond the arc. He also scored 22 points against St. Francis Brooklyn this season so he has the potential to be very dangerous.

You always have to worry about the Mount bigs in Kristijan Krajina, Taylor Danaher and Will Miller who all contribute. Also Mount is deep in the backcourt with players like Chris Martin, Khalid Nwandu and Charles Glover.

LIU Spotlight:

The Blackbirds have won four straight and six of the their last seven games. Part of the way reason why is because of the resurgence of point guard Elvar Friðriksson.

Friðriksson started out the season on fire, scoring at least 11 points in six of his first ten games of the season including two 19-point games. After his second 19-point performance at New Hampshire, Friðriksson went into a slump and only score in double-figure once (an 18-point game vs Sacred Heart) in his next nine games.

But over in the last six games, Friðriksson appears to have broken through his freshman slump. In this current six-game span in which LIU has gone 5-1, Friðriksson has regained his scoring touch. He is averaging just a shade under ten points per game and has scored in double-digits in four of them. He is also averaging 4.2 assists per game in his last six games. He has also connected on nine three-pointer in this span.

LIU’s Keys to the Game:

Safeguard the basketball: Part of Mount Mayhem’s success comes from opponent turnovers. They thrive off of it. LIU committed 16 turnovers in their first meeting. They will need to do a much better job especially on the road.

Keep an eye on the shooters: As I noted earlier, Mayhem also thrives off three-pointers and they will take a ton of threes. LIU need to force them into taking tough threes and not give too many open looks.

– Slow down the little man: LIU had to try and harass their small point guard Junior Robinson and keep him from having a huge impact as his did in the second half of the first meeting back in Brooklyn.

KenPom Game Prediction: Mount St. Mary’s, 64-59. LIU win probability: 26 %.

Next Up: 

The Blackbirds return home for their first of their final two home games of the regular season as they take on the Wagner Seahawks at the Steinberg Wellness Center on Saturday, February 21. Tip-off time is scheduled for 4:30pm.

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