LIU Gameday Preview – Game 9 – Sam Houston State

The Blackbirds return to their home nest for the final time in non-conference play as Sam Houston State pays a visit to Downtown Brooklyn. (Photo; Bob Dea - BHJ)

The Blackbirds return to their home nest for the final time in non-conference play as Sam Houston State pays a visit to Downtown Brooklyn. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

Game Info

Opponent: Sam Houston State Bearkats

Conference: Southland
Current Record: 4-5
Tip: 7:00 PM
Where: Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY

About the Opponent

Previous Game: Win vs LeTourneau, 96-54
Last Season’s Record (Overall/Conference): 26-9/15-3
KenPom Rank: 207
Meeting History: 2nd all-time meeting. Sam Houston State leads series, 1-0. LIU lost 82-78 at Sam Houston State in their first-ever meeting back in the 2013-14 season.

High Scorer: Dakarai Henderson, Guard, Jr., 15.5 ppg

High Rebounder: Torry Butler, Forward, Jr., 7.4 rpg

High Assist man: Jamal Williams, Guard, So., 3.2 apg

Starting Probables

Sam Houston State:

G – Dakarai Henderson
G – Jalin Barnes
G – Jamal Williams
F – Torry Butler
F – Aurimas Majauskas

LIU Brooklyn:

G – Aakim Saintil
G – Iverson Fleming
G – Martin Hermannsson
F – Nura Zanna
F – Jerome Frink

Sam Houston State Scouting Report

Sam Houston State is a program out of the Southland Conference which currently ranks one spot ahead of the Northeast Conference in KenPom’s conference rankings. The Bearkats are coming off two straight 20+ win seasons and two straight postseason appearances in the College Insider Tournament.

Sam Houston is off to a slower start this season at 4-5 with just one Division I win on their resume which was a blowout win on the road against Bethune-Cookman.

SHSU graduated five seniors off their team from last season and reloaded this season with five junior college transfers. Six of their 15 players on their rosters are underclassmen and just six players return from last season’s team. Yet, even with all the newcomers and six returnees, the Bearkats were picked to finish fourth in the Southland men’s basketball preseason poll.

Their two leading scorers are juniors Dakarai Henderson and Aurimas Majauskas who are both third-year players in the program. Henderson leads the team in scoring at 15.5 ppg but his effective field goal percentage is just 39.1% in games versus DI competition. He did not play in SHSU’s previous game against Division III LeTourneau University. His season-high against DI competition is 18 points vs Southern Illinois in an overtime loss. Majauskas is averaging 13.8 ppg in just under 21 minutes per game. He is shooting 52% from the field but is just 2 of 16 from three this season. He is also a foul-magnet as he is called for 8.1 fouls per 40 minutes and has fouled out of three games so far.

Third leading scorer junior point guard Ameer Jackson (11.0 ppg) is out for the season with a knee injury and senior guard Paul Baxter who was Sam Houston’s lone returning starter as well as a preseason All-Southland Conference first team selection, has not played this year due to a foot injury. With these injuries, SHSU don’t have a true point guard available on their roster.

Against Division I opponents, the Bearkats have struggled offensively. They ranked in the bottom 300’s both on two-point and three-point field goal percentage as well as free throw percentage. They are not a big team height-wise so they don’t block a lot of shots but they steal the ball well, they take away the ball on 7.7% of opponent’s possessions and they don’t turn the ball over a lot themselves.

On the defensive end, teams have shot the ball particular well against them. They do a decent job guarding the three point line which opponents shoot 34.3% but then allow nearly 55% from two.

One thing to watch, SHSU is a good defensive rebounding team while one of LIU’s strength so far has been on the offensive glass. The team that wins that battle could get the edge.

What to know about LIU from their last game

– LIU Brooklyn is coming off of their second road win of the season and their second straight overtime game with a 80-79 win at Niagara on Saturday.

– Junior forward Jerome Frink is coming off his second double-double of the season (12 points/11 rebounds) and was named this week’s NEC Player of the Week following that performance as well as a monster career-high 30-point game against Fordham. Frink is currently leading LIU in scoring at 16.9 ppg and is first in the NEC in rebounding at 9.0 rpg.

– Junior guard Aakim Saintil got his second consecutive start for LIU and once again had a big game vs Niagara with 21 points, 5 assists and 3 steals. Saintil is now third on the team in scoring at 15.4 ppg and is tied for 17th in the nation in steals per game at 2.5 spg.

– Trevon Woods scored the game-winning basket with under three seconds left in overtime. Woods is averaging 10 ppg over his last two games and has seen his minutes increase with the absences of Glenn Feidanga (illness) and Julius van Sauers (ankle injury). He has also made six of his last ten three-point attempts.

– Nura Zanna is coming off his best offensive game of the season with 12 points against Niagara in a season-high 36 minutes.

– LIU’s three-point shooting has improved greatly over the last four games. So much so they are now shooting 31% from three as a team which is a far cry from the 21% they were shooting a few weeks ago. LIU has made at least eight threes in each of the last four games.

KenPom Prediction: LIU Brooklyn, 72-71

Next Game: Incarnate Word @ LIU Brooklyn – Tuesday, December 22, 2015. The Blackbirds play their second and final game of the season at Barclays Center and wrap up their home schedule for non-conference play. Tip is scheduled for 7:00 pm.

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