College Basketball

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Saint Mary's-CA (16-7) at Loyola Marymount (11-12)

The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 6, 11 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Gersten Pavilion (4,156) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: TWC, ROOT, CSN-CA. Home Record: SMC 13-1, LMU 5-2. Away Record: SMC 3-4, LMU 3-8. Neutral Record: SMC 0-2, LMU 3-2. Conference Record: SMC 6-4, LMU 3-8. Series Record: Saint Mary's-CA leads, 80-54.

GAME NOTES: West Coast Conference rivals in the Golden State get together on Thursday night, as the Gaels of Saint Mary's pay a visit to the Lions of Loyola Marymount.

Saint Mary's comes into the contest sporting a 16-7 overall record, which includes a 6-4 league ledger. The Gaels have lost their last two games however, falling in a pair of road clashes at San Diego (61-43) and at BYU (84-71). As a result, the team is a game under .500 in true road games (3-4), and it still has one more stop to make on this current trek, as it plays at Pepperdine this Saturday.

Loyola Marymount has really struggled since the start of conference play, as it has won only three of its 11 league bouts. The Lions have lost two in a row and eight of their last nine overall. LMU is 5-2 at home this season, with the two setbacks coming in its last two outings at Gersten Pavilion versus Portland and Gonzaga.

These two teams met less than two weeks ago, with the Gaels routing the visiting Lions in an 89-61 final. As a result, SMC has now won the last three meetings, and its lead in the all-time series stands at 80-54.

Thanks to four starters averaging in double figures, Saint Mary's is putting up 74.6 ppg on typical shooting efforts of .459 overall and .400 from 3-point range. From a defensive standpoint, the team is allowing 66.4 ppg, and it is also fortunate to hold a +4.6 advantage on the glass. Brad Waldow (17.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 39 blocks) has done it all for the Gaels this season, while support comes from guys like Stephen Holt (13.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.9 apg), James Walker III (10.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg), Beau Levesque (10.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Kerry Carter (9.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg).

Waldow hit for 25 points, Holt 16 and Walker III 11 in the club's recent loss to BYU. SMC shot just 40 percent from the field compared to nearly 50 for the Cougars. The Gaels led by a point at the break, but a 55.6 percent shooting effort by BYU over the final 20 minutes resulted in them outscoring the visitors, 47-33, in the period.

Putting points on the scoreboard hasn't been Loyola Marymount's problem this season, as it nets 75.6 ppg, despite the team shooting just 29 percent from 3- point land. A lax approach on defense has been the cause of the team's troubles, as foes are generating 78.0 ppg, thanks to shooting efforts that hover right around 46 percent overall and 37 percent from downtown. Anthony Ireland (18.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.6 apg) has been productive in both working for his shot and setting up his teammates for theirs. Evan Payne (14.5 ppg) and Gabe Levin (11.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg) round out the double-digit scorers for the Lions, who shot 41.5 percent from the field and were badly outrebounded (41-29) in their 80-69 loss to Pepperdine last Saturday.

Ireland drained 5-of-7 3-point attempts on his way to 24 points, and he added six boards and four assists for good measure. Levin tallied 16 points and eight caroms, while Payne chipped in with 13 points coming off the bench. Both teams hit seven treys in the contest, but Pepperdine dominated the paint, outscoring the Lions there, 44-22. The Waves also had a 33-18 edge in bench points.

LMU isn't totally devoid of talent, but the Gaels are the better team and will post a solid road win to keep pace in the race for the WCC title.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Mary's-CA 79, Loyola Marymount 67

02/06 10:16:18 ET

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