Loyola Marymount Lions vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
Thursday, November 20
Wells Fargo Arena
9:00 p.m. ET
MEET THE TEAMS
The Arizona State Sun Devils are off to a strong start to the 2014-15 season. Their roster boasts an experienced, veteran core consisting of six solid returnees, four highly-touted transfers, and three promising freshmen. This combination of experience and talented rookies makes for a strong balance that will give the Loyola Marymount Lions a strong challenge.
Jan 23, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Utah Utes guard Brandon Taylor (11) shoots the ball around Arizona State Sun Devils forward Eric Jacobsen (21) during the second half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY Sports
Junior Eric Jacobsen is making a big difference early on in the season. After having only averaged 8.8 minutes and 2.1 PPG last year, Jacobsen is already leading his time with 10.5 PPG and is extremely hot from the floor and the charity stripe. Senior guard Shaquielle McKissic is also averaging that same 10.5 PPG and is making immediate contributions to his team.
The Sun Devils are 36-5 in their last 41 home games and have won a number of impressive match ups in the last few years to prove that they have what it takes to de-throne anyone. They defeated eventual Pac-12 Champion UCLA in the 2012-13 season and took down eventual Pac-12 Champion Arizona in the 2013-14 season, all at the Wells Fargo Arena. Much of that team that upset the Final Four-bound Arizona Wildcats returns for this season, and that underdog mentality still lives within them, composing the mindset that proves why they can be such a strong team.
The Lions come into this game fresh off a tough loss to the Boise State Broncos. They’ll look to get back on their feet as they take on a talented Arizona State squad.
March 8, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Loyola Marymount Lions forward Godwin Okonji (22) shoots against Santa Clara Broncos forward John McArthur (25, right) during the second half in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
If LMU wants to have any chance in this match up, they’re going to need to see big numbers from guys like Evan Payne, Godwin Okonji, and David Humphries. Payne led the way against Boise State, knocking down 22 points and five assists after coming off the bench, while Okonji recorded a double double, scoring 15 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Junior forward Marin Mornar went 5-7 from the field, adding 13 points for the Lions.
While solid performances from these standouts will be necessary, a strong outing from the remainder of the lineup will be the game’s determining factor. Loyola Marymount lost to Boise State because guys like Ayodeji Egbeyemi, Chase Flint, and Matt Hayes contributed (almost literally) nothing to the team. None of these three players, who each saw a pretty decent amount of minutes, scored a single point. There were a few rebounds and assists thrown into the mix, but to see a disappointing performance from guys who normally contribute so much to the team has got to be bitter for head coach Mike Dunlap.
If guys like Payne and Okonji keep up the good work and the rest of the team gets back on track to making their usual contributions, the Lions have a chance. But if the fate of this game is put into the hands of two or three guys with no support from the remaining cast, it could get ugly for the Lions. Let’s hope for a more solid performance; this is a team with talented contributors, and they have what it takes to get back on track.
ASU leads the series with Loyola Marymount 10-9, but the two teams have not met since ASU’s blowout win on March 7, 1980, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Last season, the Sun Devils went 16-1 home,their best home record since the 1974-75 season. This remarkable home standing led ASU to the NCAA Tournament.