THE GAME: Both teams won their last outings, the Greyhounds recording an 86-62 road win at Canisius Saturday afternoon while Niagara posted a 93-74 home win over Manhattan later that night. The Purple Eagles' 91-75 win over Loyola in Baltimore last month, began a Niagara stretch of winning six of seven. Following that defeat, the Greyhounds won two straight and have won three of five with the two losses being at North Carolina State and at No. 5 Duke.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos enters his fifth season and has registered a 63-71 (.470) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate is 3-7 against the Purple Eagles. Niagara head coach Joe Mihalich is in his 11th season with the Purple Eagles and sports a 190-126 (.601) career record. The 1978 La Salle graduate is 20-3 against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: Outside of conference opponents, there are no teams that appear on the schedules of both these schedules. Within league play, neither team has faced a similar team thus far.
THE SERIES: Niagara leads the series, 29-14, and have won five straight in the series. After meeting for the first time in December 1955 at Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium, the teams did not meet again until they both became members of the MAAC in 1989-1990. The Purple Eagles swept the series last year as both games were played over six days and collected a victory in its conference season opener at Loyola last month. The complete history is listed on Page 3 of this release.
THE PROGRAM: Loyola is playing its 99th recorded season of basketball this season. The first season was 1908-1909 and this year the College is celebrating the 100th anniversary of that first season. The Greyhounds have posted a 1119-1153 (.493) all-time record during that time.
LAST TIME OUT: Sophomore guard Jamal Barney made 15 of his 19 shots from the field en route to a career-high 41 points to lead Loyola to an 86-62 victory Saturday afternoon at Canisius. It was just the third time in history that a Greyhounds player has topped the 40-point barrier as he made three of four from three-point range and eight of nine free throws. Junior guard Brett Harvey added 22 points for Loyola while sophomore forward Isaac Reid led all rebounders with 10 caroms. The Greyhounds outrebounded the Golden Griffins 26-10 in the second half and made 22 of 25 free throws (.880) for the game.
GOOD BYE 2008: The Greyhounds concluded 2008 on Wednesday at Duke, finishing the calendar year with 19 victories which was one more than 2007. The 19 wins were the most since the Greyhounds won that many in 1985, winning 13 to conclude the 1984-1985 season and six to open the 1985-1986 campaign. The last time the Greyhounds won 20 or more games in a calendar year was 1971 when it won 17 games and the Mason-Dixon Conference tournament to cap a 19-7 season in 1970-1971 and opened the following year with four victories for 21 triumphs during the year.
AND HELLO 2009: January has been very kind to the Greyhounds the last few seasons. To open 2006, Loyola won three of its first four. The 2007 year began with four straight wins and victories in six of the first seven. And 2008 started with the Greyhounds tasting victory in eight of 11. Through the first outing of 2009, Loyola has one victory. Time will tell how the rest of the month fares.
BARNEY HAS CAREER AFTERNOON: Sophomore guard Jamal Barney had a career afternoon Saturday in the win at Canisius. Here is a list of highlights from the 41-point effort:
It was the first 40-point effort by a Greyhounds player since Joel Hittleman equalled the school record with 44 points against Catholic on December 17, 1954. Hittleman, a Buffalo native, was in attendance at Saturday's game.
It was just the third ever 40-point outing in 99 seasons of recorded Loyola basketball.
The 15 field goals matched the third-best outing in recorded school history.
The 41 points tied for the sixth-best effort in the NCAA this season.
Of those top 11 numbers, Barney's 78.9 percent from the floor (15-19) was the best among them. Next was 66.7 percent (14-21).
The 15 field goals is the second-highest number for a player in the NCAA this season.
MORE ON BARNEY: After just 66 points in his first six games, he has poured in 161 points in the eight since, including five efforts of 20 or more. Not forgotten has been his rebounding in his last seven outings, grabbing 50 boards for an average of 7.1 per game. Four times in the last eight games he has made better than 50 percent from the floor and he has made six or more field goals in each of those games. Since he moved into the starting lineup 10 games ago, he has reached double figures in eight of the 10 while leading the team in scoring five of those times. Over that 10-game stretch, he is averaging 18.8 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 48.4 percent (75-155) from the field and 80.6 percent (29-36) from the free-throw line.
HARVEY GIVING TEAM WHAT IT NEEDS: Twice this season, junior guard Brett Harvey has scored one field goal or less in a game. After each of those pairs of games, he has responded with scoring outbursts. Following the first instance, he tallied 15 points against Siena and then 27 points against Niagara to begin a four-game stretch of double-figure games. After the latest instance, he scored 22 points Saturday in the win at Canisius. Whatever the team has needed, his free-throw shooting has remained consistent, ranking ninth nationally in the latest NCAA numbers through December 21. Four times this season he has made nine or more foul shots in a game and his 13-for-13 performance against Niagara equaled the second-best performance in school history. He has made 41 consecutive free throws entering tonight.
RUDOLPH LENDS HELPING HAND: Out of the starting lineup for the first time since early January of last year, sophomore guard Brian Rudolph responded with his best performance of the season against Coppin State, handing out nine assists without a turnover and adding two steals. The assist total was just one off his career high of 10. He had his two front teeth knocked out while diving for a loose ball in the game and committed just one turnover over three games, handing out five helpers with no turnovers at UC Davis and six assists with just one turnover Monday at North Carolina State. He led the team in scoring with 13 points at Duke and then made seven free throws for his only points while handing out seven assists in the win at Canisius.
SULLIVAN REACHES 1,000: Senior guard Marquis Sullivan was honored prior to the December 10 game for scoring the 1,000th point of his career. The 29th player to do so, he tallied the historic basket on a three-pointer with 4:33 remaining in the first half at Davidson, one of four three-pointers he scored in the game while leading the team with 16 points. After being held scoreless in the win over Coppin State, he bounced back with a season-high 20 points in just 22 minutes at UC Davis and then scored 21 points in 20 minutes at North Carolina State. He has made four or more three-pointers four times in 11 games this season, shooting 50 percent or better from long range in each of those outings. His appearance at UC Davis made him the 37th player in Greyhounds basketball history to play in more than 100 games in a career.
LEWIS MAKES HIS RETURN: Sophomore guard Tony Lewis made his return to the lineup at UC Davis and scored eight points with a steal in 18 minutes played. He had played sparingly in a pair of games immediately following and then did not dress for four games after exploding for a career-high 23 points and eight rebounds against Cornell.
WINBUSH LENDS SUPPORT: Keen observers have noticed the impact that freshman forward Anthony Winbush has made since moving into the starting lineup 10 games ago. After playing just 34 minutes in the season's first four games, he hasn't played less than 22 in any of his 10 starts, including a career-high 36 at North Carolina State. His impact was never felt more than in the deciding moments of the Coppin State game. His steal off the press and hand off to junior guard Brett Harvey in three-point range for a successful basket game Loyola its first lead of the second half with 4:21 to go, his alley-oop dunk 3:09 left pushed the lead to five, another alley-oop dunk with 84 seconds remaining snapped a 67-all tie, he found sophomore guard Jamal Barney open under the basket for what resulted in the game-winning free throws with 46 ticks left and finally he rebounded a missed Eagles shot with 22 seconds left and got the ball to Harvey who was fouled and sank the game-clinching free throws. He scored seven points before fouling out at UC Davis while contributing stellar defense against the taller Aggies and followed that with a team-high seven rebounds and more defense against the Wolfpack.
WIEGAND EARNS STARTS: A freshman walk-on, center Josh Wiegand earned a start in the second half of the Niagara game and has made four starts since. Against the Purple Eagles, he made all three of his shots from the field for six points and added five rebounds, including four off the offensive glass. His next outing resulted in two points, four rebounds, a steal and a block.
HALL TALLIES DOUBLE DIGITS AGAIN: Freshman guard J'hared Hall matched his career-high against Coppin State, scoring 11 points in a career-best 17 minutes. Seven of his points came in the second half and his only three-pointer of the game cut what was a 20-point Greyhounds deficit to nine with 14:32 remaining. He first tallied 11 at Vermont, scoring the three-point basket that brought Loyola all the way back from a 13-point first-half deficit to tie the game with 12:35 left.
WRIGHT PUTS UP THE BLOCKS: Junior forward Jawaan Wright has already collected 17 blocked shots through his 10 games, including five at Vermont. He leads the team in field-goal percentage (.609) and is fourth in rebounding (3.5 rpg). He has cracked the Top 15 in Loyola's career blocked shots list, recording 37 in two-plus seasons thus far to rank 14th.
NEXT TIME OUT: A five-game stretch of road games concluded tonight, Loyola will play at Reitz Arena for the first time since Dec. 10 when it hosts Fairfield Friday night. Game time is 7 o'clock.