Game #22 • Lehigh (12-10, 6-5 PL) at American (5-17, 2-9 PL)
Sat, Feb. 4, 2017 • 1 p.m. • Washington, D.C. • Bender Arena (3,500)
All-Time Record: American, 26-23
Last Meeting: Lehigh 79, American 73 — Jan. 8, 2017
TV: CSN+ — Dan Laing (PXP), Bram Weinstein (Color), Megan O'Keefe (Sideline)
Stream: PLN — CSN+ Simulcast
American Game Notes
Lehigh Game Notes
WASHINGTON — The American men's basketball team returns to Bender Arena for a meeting with the recently slumping Lehigh Mountain Hawks on Saturday afternoon. Both squads lost in the previous PL matches on Wednesday evening. The Eagles lost at Bucknell, 80-60, while Lehigh lost a last-second contest at Loyola, 62-60.
News, Notes, and Storylines
ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: The Eagles hold a 26-23 lead over the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh has won eight of the last 12 meeting against the Eagles and four straight heading into Saturday's contest.
EAGLES REWIND VS. LEHIGH: Despite trailing the entire contest, the American University men's basketball team pushed Lehigh to the limit and fell 79-73 on Jan. 8. Sa'eed Nelson led the Eagles with 19 points and eight rebounds in 40 minutes. Delante Jones had 13 and Lonnie Rivera put up 11 in his first collegiate start. Tim Kempton had a career-best 36 points for Lehigh and added 11 rebounds. Kyle Leufroy had 16 points and Austin Price added 13. American trailed by as many as 14 early in the second half before cutting the deficit to a single possession with an 11-0 run in a span of 5:18 when Nelson made it 47-44 at 12:57. The Eagles kept the game within two possession until late when Lehigh regained a 10-point lead with 33 seconds left on a Kempton free throw. American shot 46 percent from the floor, 39 percent from the outside and made 14-of-20 from the line. Lehigh shot 57 percent from the floor and made 22-of-30 from the line.
LEHIGH SCOUT: Hopefully, this is the last time American has to see Tim Kempton! In nine career games against the Eagles, Kempton is averaging 17.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. This season, the senior center from Arizona dropped a career-best 36 points against the Eagles. Kempton is one top performance away from his 100th-career double-figure scoring contest. Kempton is leading the Patriot League in scoring, averaging 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He is second in PL field goal percentage (55.7%). On the defensive end, he is second in blocked shots (1.2) and 10th in minutes per game 31.7. In his last game at Loyola, Kempton scored just four points with seven rebounds in 18 minutes before fouling out. Playing without rookie Pat Andree and only getting three points from Kahron Ross, Lehigh was led by Kyle Leufroy with 17 points and Jordan Cohen and Brandon Alston each had 14 points.
WHAT IT WILL TAKE FOR AN AU WIN: The same scout every team in the Patriot League has: Stop Tim Kempton and the rest of the Mountain Hawks. Boston U and Loyola are the first duos to sweep the Mountain Hawks since American, Army and Holy Cross did it in the 2013-14 season. AU will need a strong defensive game from Mark Gasperini and Charlie Jones to stop Tim Kempton and either Pat Andree or Matt Holba. Andree played eight minutes in the Boston U. game and missed the last game against Loyola.
KEY MATCHUP - PART II: The top matchup for the contest will be Sa'eed Nelson of American and Kahron Ross of Lehigh. In the first meeting, Nelson had 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes while Ross had nine points, six rebounds and five assists. Nelson is leading the Eagles in scoring at 15.0 points and is tied for second in rebounds at 4.5 per game. Ross is fourth on the Mountain Hawks in scoring and leads the team in assists with 121.
BREAKING DOWN THE BUCKNELL LOSS: The Eagles fell to Patriot League leader Bucknell, 80-60, on Wednesday evening at Sojka Pavilion after the Bison raced out to an early lead. Sa'eed Nelson led the eagles with 14 points in 32 minutes. Delante Jones added 11 points and shot 50 percent from the field. Lonnie Rivera and Mark Gasperini each had nine points before fouling out late in the contest. Zach Thomas led the Bison with 21 points and nine rebounds. Nana Foulland contributed 16 points while John Azzinaro chipped in 12 off the bench. Bucknell opened the game with 14 straight points before Rivera put up a layup. American dropped the Bison lead to 11 (35-24) with 2:03 left on a layup by Charlie Jones. In the second half, AU slimmed Bucknell's lead to eight (54-46) on a jumper by Gasperini. Bucknell finished the game on a 26-14 run. The Eagles shot 43 percent from the field and 68 percent from the line while Bucknell connected on 61 percent from the field and 60 percent from the line.
ENTER SANDMAN: New York native, Lonnie Rivera is averaging 7.8 points in the five games he's started this season. Rivera got his first start in January at Lehigh followed by Boston U. He's also cracked the lineup in the previous three games against Navy, Colgate and Bucknell. In those games, Rivera is averaging 7.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. Rivera is shooting 48 percent from the field, is 6-of-9 from the outside and has made all seven free throw attempts.
EARLY SETBACKS HALTS COMEBACKS: In four of the last seven game, American has trailed by double digits early in the contest but found a way to bounce back. In two of those games, AU trailed 20-4 before the second media break. In games against Boston and Bucknell, the Eagles trailed by 18 points early and cut the deficit to single digits midway through the second half. Against the Terriers, American trailed by four (59-55) with 6:29 left. At Bucknell, it was a nine-point difference (50-41). In the two games against the service academies, AU trailed Navy, 11-0 before taking the lead with 12 straight points in a four-minute span. The Midshipmen regained the double-digit leads before the half expired. Against Navy, AU trailed 21-6 with 6:31 left in the first before a 43-30 run made it a two-point game late in regulation before the Black Knights pulled away.