Pacific Tigers (15-15, 6-12 WCC) @ Grand Canyon Antelopes (15-14, 10-6 WAC)
Date: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Location: Antelope Gym, Phoenix, Arizona.
Time: 7:00 PM PT
TV: Cox7 (Phoenix)
Live stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/gcu/mbball/
Jerome Garrison, 16.6 PPG
Akachi Okugo, 3.7 PPG
Blake Davis, 7.8 PPG
Daniel Alexander, 12.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG
Killian Larson, 17.4 PPG, 11.6 RPG
Andrew Bock, 11.o PPG, 2.9 APG
Sama Taku, 11.0 PPG
Aaron Short, 4.7 PPG
Khalil Kelley, 6.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG
Tony Gill, 11.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG
Meet the Teams
Grand Canyon has had a fair amount of success in this their first year playing Division-1 college basketball. They are coached by former NBA player Dan Marjele. Marjele’s nephew Ryan Marjele, a transfer from the University of Toledo and Grand Valley State, is on the roster but sitting out this season. Grand Canyon comes in with an RPI of 204 (as of March 10th), mainly because they play in a weak conference. Center Killian Larson is having a fantastic season for the Antelopes and hopes to lead them to success in the postseason after a strong welcome division-1 hoops.
Pacific was probably a bit surprised to receive a bid to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament with their 6-12 WCC conference record. However, their RPI of 138 (as of March 10th), highlighted by some strong wins against BYU, Nevada, and Utah State, is probably what allowed them to qualify for this tournament. With so many seniors on the roster, I’m sure the Tigers are thrilled to have an opportunity to extend their season. Pacific has been known for its balanced scoring, which makes them difficult to scout for.
Keys to the Game
Feed Larson: Killian Larson will have a 40-50 pound weight advantage over Pacific’s starting bigs, so he should look to go to work in the post and crash the boards for offensive rebounds as well. If guard Jerome Garrison can attract attention from Pacific’s guards on the perimeter (he’s a 40% three point shooter who makes almost 2 per game), that should allow Larson to make isolation one on one moves in the post.
Get Andrew Bock going: Bock has been in a major shooting slump as of late, which makes things more difficult for his running mate Sama Taku, who then has more ballhandling and scoring responsibilities. You know what you’re going to get from Gill, Kelley, and Ross Rivera, but Bock is the wild card who has the potential to make Pacific’s offense run much more smoothly.
Tony Gill vs. Killian Larson
Gill might have the best chance of any Tiger to stop Larson. His toughness and rebounding ability will hopefully give Larson fits. If Gill can make Larson work defensively and make him step out to the perimeter to contest three point shots (Gill has made 39 3-point shots this season at an 38.6% success rate), he could tire Larson out, making Larson less effective on the offensive end.
Grand Canyon played two WCC games in November, losing to both San Diego and LMU at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. Yet they still managed to finish 3rd in a conference that has arguably the biggest player in college basketball (Sim Bhullar of New Mexico State). They will give Pacific a tough matchup, and they have a good chance to defeat the Tigers. Grand Canyon 68, Pacific 65.