The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, February 15, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Draddy Gymnasium (2,345) -- Bronx, New York. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Iona 9-1, Manhattan 5-3. Away Record: Iona 5-6, Manhattan 4-10. Neutral Record: Iona 1-3, Manhattan 0-2. Conference Record: Iona 9-5, Manhattan 7-7. Series Record: Iona leads, 44-36.
GAMES NOTES: Riding their best run of the season the Manhattan Jaspers face a stern test against the Iona Gaels in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action at Draddy Gymnasium on Friday night.
Iona is right in the thick of things at the top of the MAAC. The Gaels are currently in a three-way tie for second place in the conference with Loyola- Maryland and Canisius at 9-5 against league foes. The Gaels had lost three straight before righting the ship last time out with a 78-71 win over Rider. Overall, Iona is boasting a 15-10 record as it prepares for a three-game road trip following this contest.
Manhattan is making a late charge towards contention in the tightly contested MAAC after earning three straight wins with a 62-40 rout of Fairfield on Tuesday. The winning streak marked the first time this season that the Jaspers have won back-to-back games. Manhattan has evened its conference record to 7-7, which has it among seven teams in the conference with at least seven league wins. It doesn't get any easier going forward as Manhattan hosts conference-leading Niagara next.
In the first meeting between these instate rivals this season the Gaels earned a 78-70 win at Hynes Athletic Center. The victory was the fourth in the last five matchups for the Gaels, who lead the all-time series, 44-36.
It was just another strong day on the offensive end for Iona in its win over Rider. The Gaels shot an even 50 percent in the contest, including a 7-of-14 effort from beyond the arc, while nailing 21-of-26 shots from the free-throw line.
Lamont Jones (22.9 ppg) kept his hold on the MAAC scoring lead with a 32-point eruption. Jones is the third highest scorer in the country overall and has scored at least 25 points nine times this season, including a season-high 40 points early on in the campaign. Jones isn't the only prolific scorer for the Gaels, as Sean Armand (18.0 ppg) and David Laury (13.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg) are each filling up the basket at impressive rates. Iona is far and away the best offensive team in the conference, ranking third nationally in points (82.6 pg) and 16th in assists (15.9 ppg), while shooting the MAAC's best percentage from the field (.458).
Manhattan put on a defensive clinic against Fairfield. The Jaspers held the Stags to just 25.4 percent shooting in the contest, while not allowing a single foe to score in double figures. Manhattan shot at a much improved 52.3 percent from the floor itself for the victory.
Though they did win by 20 points, the Jaspers still didn't have an explosive offensive game. Manhattan has not been much of a scoring team this season averaging just 58.5 points per game, which ranks last in the MAAC and among the 15 worst marks in the country. The Jaspers have stood tall on defense, by allowing just 61.3 points per game on 40.6 percent shooting. Rhamel Brown (11.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.9 bpg) has been the key piece for Manhattan on both sides of the floor. The 6-foot-7 forward is the only player scoring in double figures for Manhattan while leading the MAAC in blocked shots. Michael Alvarado (8.5 ppg) is the next best scoring option, although he shoots just 38.4 percent from the field.
On paper Iona should be running away with the MAAC with how well it plays on offense. That hasn't been the case so far but against Manhattan the Gaels will have more than enough firepower to get the job done.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iona 74, Manhattan 67
02/15 10:32:15 ET