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Saint Mary'es College Athletics

Men's Basketball

Evan Fitzner and the Gaels open WCC play at LMU Thursday night.
Evan Fitzner and the Gaels open WCC play at LMU Thursday night.
MBK | No. 19 Saint Mary's Set to Start Conference Action
Release: Sunday 12/27/2016 
by SMC Athletics

Game 12: at Loyola Marymount, Thursday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m.
Gersten Pavilion
All-time Series: 88-54
Last Meeting: 3/5/16 (W, 60-48)
TV: ESPNU
Audio: TuneIn Radio
Live Stats

Game 13: vs. San Diego, Saturday, Dec. 31, 6 p.m.
McKeon Pavilion
All-time Series: 46-36
Last Meeting: 2/6/16 (W, 60-43)
Live Stream: SMCGaels.com
Audio: TuneIn Radio
Live Coverage

Matchup with the Lions and Toreros
No. 19/19 Saint Mary’s (10-1, 0-0 WCC) hits the road after the holiday to open up West Coast Conference action at Loyola Marymount (7-4, 0-0 WCC). 

This marks the 143rd meeting between the two programs, as the Gaels hold an 86-54 advantage in all-time meetings.

On New Year's Eve, the Gaels will host San Diego at McKeon Pavilion. SMC holds the 46-36 edge in all-time meetings and has won 10 of the past 11 meetings.

Flashback to 2015 WCC Tournament
The last matchup between the Gaels and Lions occurred last season in the conference tournament at the Orleans Arena. In the quarterfinals, the Lions hung tough, leading SMC by four points at the half. Saint Mary’s picked up the intensity in the remaining 20 minutes, outscoring LMU 35-19, and forcing the Lions to shoot just 26.7 percent in the second half.

Dane Pineau would lead the Gaels, as the big man recorded 16 points and eight rebounds in the 60-48 victory.

Skying High for Boards
In the 74-47 victory over South Carolina State, the Gaels secured their largest rebound margin of the season (26), 42-16. Led by Jock Landale’s third straight double-double, SMC outgained the Bulldogs, 15-2 on the offensive glass. The Gaels outscored SC State in second chance points, 10-2.

Gaels Record in WCC Openers
Saint Mary’s is currently 9-1 in West Coast Conference openers since the 2006-07 season. The last conference opening loss for the Gaels occurred on Jan. 6, 2007 at Santa Clara (L, 76-69).

Defense Playing at Elite Level
Saint Mary’s is currently holding opponents to just 57.5 points per game. A large part of the defensive success has been guarding the three-ball well, as the Gaels allow their opponents to shoot just 30.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Where the Gaels Rank
The Gaels are currently 1st in the WCC in six statistical categories: Scoring defense (57.5, 4th NCAA), field goal percentage (.495, 21st NCAA), free-throw percentage (.772, 17th NCAA), rebound-margin (9.5, 11th NCAA) assists (18.5, 11th NCAA) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7, 5th NCAA).

SMC also ranks 2nd in scoring margin (+17.5), three-point percentage defense (.301) and three-point field goals per game (9.7).

Double-Double Machine
Over the last three games, Jock Landale has recorded double-doubles to bring his career total to four. The big man averaged 16.7 points and 11.3 rebounds over the last three victories.

Through 11 games, Landale is averaging a career-best 17.9 pts (6th in WCC) and 9.5 rebounds per game (1st in WCC).

Naar’s Quest into the Top 5
Emmett Naar is tied with Nick Pappageorge (1976-78) for fifth most assists in program history (408). The junior is 2nd in the WCC and 20th in the NCAA in assists per game. 

Rahon-Naar Combo Among Nation’s Best
Both Joe Rahon and Naar rank in the top-20 in the NCAA in assists per game. Rahon leads the team and conference averaging 6.3 while Naar is posting 6.1 dimes per contest.

Rahon currently ranks 17th in the country while Naar is 20th. The two are the only teammates of any Division-I program ranked inside the top-20 for assists.

About the Lions
Loyola Marymount currently sits with an overall record of 7-4. The senior led Lions finished non-conference play with a 70-49 win over Morgan State on Monday.

The 21-point win was a departure for what the rest of December has looked like as the Lions earned one-point decisions in three of their last six matchups, with six of their last nine games decided on the last possession of the game (record of 3-3).

The Lions are 4-3 in games decided by less than 10 points, going 2-1 in one-point games and 1-2 in three-point games.

The Lions were led down the stretch of non-conference by the one-two punch of Brandon Brown and Stefan Jovanovic. The two seniors lead the Lions at 15.4and 11.5 points per game, respectively.

Brown adds 5.3 assists per game and a 42.9 percent shooting mark from three while Jovanovic adds 5.5 rebounds per game and a 65.1 percent shooting clip from the field. Brown had the Lions first double-double on Dec. 22 with 22 points and 11 assists and then fellow senior Buay Tuach had their second straight on Monday with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

About the Toreros
San Diego (7-5) is coming off a narrow 69-68 win at North Texas. The Toreros are currently riding a five-game win streak with their marquee victories coming against UC Santa Barbara, 77-68, and Cal State Fullerton, 82-75.

The Toreros are led by senior forward Brett Bailey. The 6-6 wing is currently averaging 18.6 points and 7.2 rebounds. Bailey is fifth in the West Coast Conference is points per game. Olin Carter III also leads the offensive attack for USD with 17.8 points per game. The second year guard is seventh in conference in points per game and second in three-pointers made per game (3.3).

USD is among the conference’s leaders in defending the three-ball, as the Toreros are third in the WCC in three-point field goal percentage defense (.307).

Former Saint Mary’s assistant Lamont Smith is in his second season at the helm for USD. Smith spent 2001-2007 as an assistant on the staff of head coach Randy Bennett. Smith, who replaced Bill Grier prior to last season, became the Toreros' twelfth head coach in program history and just the fifth head coach since USD moved to the NCAA Division I ranks in 1979-80. 


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