THE GAME: Both these teams will have had a week between their last outings as each broke for the Christmas holiday. The Greyhounds boast a modest two-game winning streak after collecting a home win over Coppin State and following that with a win eight days ago at UC Davis. North Carolina State is in the midst of a six-game home stretch and is coming off a loss to No. 25 Marquette one week ago.
THE COACHES: Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos enters his fifth season and has registered a 62-69 (.473) career record. The 1989 Catholic graduate has never coached against North Carolina State. North Carolina State head coach Sidney Lowe is in his second season with the Wolfpack and sports a 22-18 (.559) career record. The 1983 North Carolina State graduate similarly has never coached against the Greyhounds.
THE TEAMS: Both teams played Davidson earlier in the season and each suffered a defeat to the Wildcats. The Greyhounds lost at Boston College to open the 2008 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off and North Carolina State will square off against the Eagles twice in conference play later this season. Both teams have contests at Duke on tap as well -- the Greyhounds visiting Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday and the Wolfpack making the trip for a January 20 game.
THE SERIES: North Carolina State leads the series, 3-0, with all three losses for the Greyhounds coming on the road. Loyola made consecutive trips to Raleigh in the 1950-1951 and 1951-1952 seasons before the teams met for a single game on February 22, 1982, an 80-52 Greyhounds loss. This will be Loyola's first-ever appearance in the RBC Center.
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 1118-1151 (.493) all-time record during that time.
LAST TIME OUT: Sophomore guard Jamal Barney led all scorers with 23 points to match his career high and senior guard Marquis Sullivan added a season-high 20 to lead the Greyhounds to a 95-89 non-conference road win at UC Davis on December 21. Sophomore forward Isaac Reid recorded his first career double-double with 17 points and a career-best 14 rebounds. Junior guard Brett Harvey rounded out the quartet of Greyhounds double-figure scorers with 12 points while adding seven assists. Loyola held the Aggies to 28.1 percent (9-32) shooting in the first half and then shot 53.8 percent (14-26) themselves after the intermission to gain its first-ever win one the home floor of a team in the Pacific time zone. The 95 points scored on the road were the most for the Greyhounds since January 2006.
LOYOLA IN BRACKETBUSTERS GAMES: While still not receiving one of those prized television slots that all participating BracketBusters teams yearn for, the event has been kind to the Greyhounds thus far. Loyola is a perfect 3-0 in the February matchups in its three years in the event and 2-1 in the return games for a 5-1 record after its 95-89 win at UC Davis in its last outing. The only loss was a road return game played just after the break for exams, dropping a 63-57 decision at High Point in December 2006. The Greyhounds are designated as a road team for this year's event when the matchups are announced in early February.
GREYHOUNDS OUT WEST: The win at UC Davis was Loyola's first-ever on the home floor of a team from Pacific time zone. The only other Greyhounds win was a 73-55 victory over Holy Cross in the consolation game of the 1995 Otis Spunkmeyer Classic in Oakland. Prior to the most recent trip, Loyola had last been out West in January 2002, dropping a 68-50 decision at Santa Clara. In their history, the Greyhounds had lost at Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount twice each and at Stanford, San Francisco, San Diego and Southern California before winning at UC Davis.
FIRST CAREER DOUBLE-DOUBLE EARNS REID MAAC CO-PLAYER OF THE WEEK: One game after establishing his career high with 18 points, sophomore forward Isaac Reid upped that by recording his first career double-double at UC Davis. He was named the MAAC Co-Player of the Week for his effort. His 17 points were just one off his career high and he established a new career best with his 14 rebounds. The 14 boards equals the 19th best performance on record at Loyola. He also made 10 of 12 free-throw attempts, the 10 makes the 33rd best performance on record. Since being taken out of the starting lineup four games ago, he is averaging 11.8 points and 8.0 rebounds off the bench while making 87.0 percent (20-23) from the free-throw line. He is the team's leading rebounder by more than 1.5 boards a game at 7.1 rebounds per game.
BARNEY POURING IN THE POINTS: After not having played in almost two years following his departure from Providence and sitting out his NCAA-mandated transfer season, sophomore guard Jamal Barney has been on a scoring tear of late. After scoring just 66 points in his first six games, he has poured in 92 points in the five since, including three efforts of 20 or more. Not forgotten has been his rebounding in his last four outings, grabbing 32 boards for an average of 8.0 per game. Three times in the last five 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 seven games ago, he has reached double figures in six of the seven while leading the team in scoring four of those times. Over that seven-game stretch, he is averaging 17.0 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 45.6 percent (47-103) from the field and 86.4 percent (19-22) from the free-throw line.
HARVEY GIVING TEAM WHAT IT NEEDS: After not making a field goal in two games, junior guard Brett Harvey has scored in double figures in each of the four games since, including 27 points against Niagara. While others have taken the scoring burden of late, he has contributed other ways, including a season-best seven assists at UC Davis. Whatever the team has needed, his free-throw shooting has remained consistent, ranking ninth nationally at 91.8 percent (67-73). 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 33 consecutive free throws entering tonight.
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. He made four or more three-pointers for the third time in eight games this season, shooting 50 percent or better from long range in each of those outings.
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 expolding 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 seven games ago. After playing just 34 minutes in the season's first four games, he hasn't played less than 22 in any of the seven that followed. 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.
WIEGAND EARNS STARTS: A freshman walk-on, center Josh Wiegand earned a start in the second half of the Niagara game and then was in the starting lineup for the next game against Coppin State and again at UC Davis. 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. He has made 40.9 percent (9-22) of his three-point attempts thus far this season.
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 has not committed a turnover since, handing out five helpers with no turnovers at UC Davis. Mired in a shooting slump since scoring 11 points twice in the first three games, he is averaging 5.2 assists through the 11 games this season.
WRIGHT PUTS UP THE BLOCKS: Junior forward Jawaan Wright has already collected 17 blocked shots through his nine games, including five at Vermont. He leads the team in field-goal percentage (.609) and is third in rebounding (3.7 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.
QUITE A YEAR FOR COACH KOVARIK, ESQUIRE: Greyhounds assistant coach Matt Kovarik has had quite a year in 2008. In addition to getting married in June, he took and passed the bar this summer and was sworn in by the State of Maryland on December 17 to legally practice law within the state. For now, he oversees the Loyola offense as part of his assistant coaching responsibilities and his team celebrated his accomplishment by scoring 95 points at UC Davis on December 21.
NEXT TIME OUT: The trip down Tobacco Road continues Wedensday with an ESPN2 appearance at Duke which starts at 4 o'clock. The five-game road stretch continues this weekend when the Greyhounds go back into conference play with the first of two games at Upstate New York, visiting Canisius Saturday afternoon.