Loyola Marymount (21-12) at Utah State (19-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 21, 9:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (10,270) -- Logan, Utah. Television: None. CIT Record: Loyola Marymount 2-1, Utah State 2-0. Series Record: Utah State leads 6-0.
GAME NOTES: The Utah State Aggies will play host for a CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament quarterfinal matchup when they welcome in the Loyola Marymount Lions to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
This will be the seventh meeting all-time between these squads with all six previous meetings being won by with Utah State in Logan.
Loyola Marymount surrendered a lead but managed to make up for it in overtime by downing Weber State in the second round matchup for the Lions. On the year Loyola Marymount is now 21-12 after finishing with only 11 wins a year ago. Hailing from the West Coast Conference, the Lions are the fifth team in the league to have reached 20 wins this season despite a mediocre stretch in the past fives games in which the Lions are 3-2.
Utah State is a win away from a 20-win season which would make it 13 straight years with at least 20 wins, although the squad has averaged 29 wins a season over the last three years including a pair of 30-win campaigns. The Aggies have reached another gear after a rather mediocre season by winning five of the last six games, including a 76-56 rout of Idaho in the second round on Saturday.
Loyola Marymount led by 10 (41-31) at the half against Weber State on Sunday but let that lead slip away and allowed Damian Lillard to sink a three-pointer with 23 seconds remaining to tie the game 68-68 and send the contest into overtime. The Lions made up for it in the extra period by opening the frame with a 6-2 spurt and closing out the Wildcats by going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final minute.
Anthony Ireland (15.9 ppg, 5.0 apg) and Drew Viney (15.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg) have been the key pieces for Loyola Marymount this season and finished as the second best scoring combination in the West Coast Conference. The two have carried that success into the postseason, combining to score 44 points per game in the first two rounds of the CIT, after Viney dropped in 23 points and Ireland scored 20 in the first round. Ashley Hamilton (11.0 ppg) and Jared DuBois (10.2 ppg) are the team's next best options. Hamilton can also rebound (5.7 rpg) and has scored in double figures in six of the last seven games. Even with so many scorers, the Lions were a mediocre offensive squad in the WCC this season scoring 70.7 points per game.
Unlike Loyola Marymount, Utah State had no issue holding onto a lead at halftime as the Aggies rolled to a 76-56 win in the second round over Idaho. The Aggies poured it on early and led 39-16 at the break after hitting 51.9 percent from the floor in the opening period and holding the Vandals to just six total field goals in the first 20 minutes. The Aggies led by more than 18 the rest of the game.
Lopsided wins are not commonplace for Utah State which on the season has a scoring differential of just +3.6. The Aggies are efficient on offense though, finishing the season ranked second in the Western Athletic Conference and 25th in the nation in field goal percentage (.474). Utah State has been paced by the strong play of sophomore guard Preston Medlin (16.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.4 apg) this season. Medlin was right in line with his season average by putting in 17 points in the second round. Kyisean Reed (10.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg) was a decent scorer in the regular season, finishing third on the team, but is averaging 15.5 points per game in the first two rounds after a 15-point outing in the second round. During the regular season, Brockeith Pane (12.3 ppg, 4.1 apg) was the team's second scoring option and leading distributor. He has embraced the latter role more in the postseason and is coming off an 11-assist game against Idaho.
Utah State has never lost to Loyola Marymount but these Lions should give the Aggies the toughest contest in series that has been dormant since the 1970s. If the Aggies are going to win they need Reed to complement Medlin to offset the combination of Ireland and Viney.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 70, Loyola Marymount 68
03/21 10:33:07 ET