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Men's Basketball - Wed, Jan. 22, 2014

LUBBOCK CHRISTIAN (8-5, 3-4 Heartland) at NEWMAN UNIVERSITY (5-11, 2-6 Heartland)

Thursday, January 23, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.

Wichita, Kansas (Fugate Gymnasium)



Radio: KJAK 92.7 FM



About Newman

The Jets have had a difficult time during the 2013-14 season, amassing a 5-11 overall record and a 2-6 mark in the conference. The last 10 games for Newman have resulted in eight losses, with the biggest drubbing coming at the hands of St. Edward's in an 89-70 loss on December 21. Junior forward Jeremy Espinoza leads the team with 12.9 points per contest, senior guard/forward Marquis Cuyler averages 12.1 and senior guard/forward Elhad Emerllahu adds 11.1 per game. Espinoza and Cuyler grab a team-high 6.0 boards each.


History Between Chaps and Jets

Thursday's game marks the first-ever meeting between LCU and NU.  The Chaps have never played a contest in Kansas, but do hold a 3-0 advantage over Kansas-based teams, having defeated Marymount College in 1984, Bethany College in 1996  and Barclay College in 2004.


Conference Woes Turning Around

After boasting a 5-1 non-conference record, the Chaps began the season 1-4 in conference play. However, that number was a bit misleading, as LCU has hung close in each contest, just coming up short in the final minutes. An average of 3.8 points per game separated the Chaps from turning their losses to Dallas Baptist (61-59), St. Mary's (73-67), Texas A&M International (83-82) and Texas-Permian Basin (84-78) into an undefeated conference slate. LCU has been on an upswing, fairing much better last week by winning 79-71 at St. Edward's and 77-60 at McMurry.


Rogers Revived

Senior guard Tyler Rogers has been a force in the last four games for the Chaps, averaging 15.5 points and 3.6 rebounds, while shooting 56 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the free throw line. Earning 10 minutes more playing time in the last four games since January 6, the Abilene Christian transfer has nearly doubled his scoring output from the first nine games of the season, scoring a career-high 18 points in the win at St. Edward's on January 16 and tallying 17 points two days later in the 77-60 victory at McMurry. Rogers is third on the team in points per game at 10.2 and has collected a team-high 14 steals.


Brancato From the Start

Senior forward Anthony Brancato has started eight of the team's 13 contests this season, including the last five, with his statistics being measurably better than when he comes off of the bench. When opening the game, the Houston, Texas, native averages 24.3 minutes per contest, along with 12.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He hits 50 percent of his shots in his starts, including 54 percent from the three-point line. As a sub, his numbers dip to 14.6 minutes a game, 5.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, .360 field goal percentage and .266 percentage from deep. The Chaps are 7-2 with Brancato in the starting lineup and 2-4 without.


Relying on Eli

During the 2012-13 season, senior Eli Baker garnered Second Team All-SAC honors, and the forward from Arlington, Texas, is picking up right where he left off, leading LCU with 13.6 points per and 9.2 rebounds per game. Baker has been the Chaps most consistent performer in 2013-14, recording 10 double figure scoring games and leading LCU in rebounding on 11 occasions to go along with his team-high five double-doubles. Baker scored a career-high 21 points January 16 at St. Edward's and versus Eastern New Mexico on November 19. He has reeled in a season-high 13 boards on three occasions, most recently against the Hilltoppers.


Ford Tough

Perhaps the most celebratory moment of the season thus far for the Chaps came from senior guard Jeremy Ford's game-winning three-point buzzer beater at Eastern New Mexico on November 26. While his heroics were heralded in that contest, Ford's ability to direct his team and steady play go somewhat unnoticed. He has not led the Chaps in scoring and has notched just two double-digit scoring games thus far, but Ford directs the Chaps while playing 26.4 minutes per game and dishing out a team-high 3.8 assists. The Varnville, SC, native has recorded 49 assists on the season compared to just 16 turnovers for a 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio. As of January 20, that places him number one in the conference, and if LCU's statistics were to be counted nationally, Ford would tie for the 21st best ratio in Division II. Ford has stepped up his scoring in recent games, recording a career-high 13 points against Texas-Permian Basin on January 11 and following with a repeat performance at McMurry a week later. His buckets were crucial in the 77-60 win against the War Hawks, scoring on three consecutive trips down the court, hitting a jumper and two three-pointers, all of which came during a decisive 19-7 run by the Chaps midway through the second half.


Hitting the Mark

Seven Chaps are hitting at least 50 percent of their shots, with sophomore Tyler Rogers shooting at a 59.2% clip to sit sixth in the Heartland Conference rankings and tie for 40th in the nation. Senior Eli Baker's .538 shooting percentage has him tied for 12th place in the Heartland. The other five players do not have enough makes per game to qualify for the rankings, but the group has propelled the Chaps to second place in the conference standings in team field goal percentage at .503 and to tie for 14th nationally.  LCU has also been quite effective from the charity stripe, knocking down a league-high 76.6% of their freebies and also connecting on 39.7% of their shots from deep for a conference third-best.


Steady Scoring Aids in Chap Win over War Hawks

Tyler Rogers tallied 17 points to lead five Chaps in double figures as Lubbock Christian used a crucial 19-7 run midway through the second half to slip past McMurry in a 77-60 victory at Kimbrell Arena on January 18. Eli Baker posted his fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Jeremy Ford tied his season-high with 13 points, and Anthony Brancato and A.J. Luckey each added a dozen. The Chaps knocked down a season-high 28-of-33 from the charity stripe and committed a season-low eight turnovers. Two three-pointers by Ford and another by Rogers broke open a close game to put the Chaps (8-5, 3-4 Heartland) up 47-35 with 12:41 to play in the second half. Those nine consecutive points were a part of the vital run LCU used in the opening nine minutes after halftime to put the Chaps in control at 50-35 with 11 minutes remaining. The War Hawks (8-8, 3-4 Heartland), playing without its two leading scorers in Kourtney Goff and Brandon Golden, were able to pull within eight on a three-point play by Alfred Perez, but four straight free throws by Rogers opened the gap again for a 57-45 Chap advantage with 8:07 on the clock. McMurry was unable to pull within single digits the rest of the way, as the Chaps hit all 10 of their free throws in the last five minutes of the contest, with Luckey draining all eight of his attempts. The Chaps jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the contest on jumpers from Beau Durham, Brancato and Rogers before the War Hawks were able to make their way into the scoring column on a layup by Perez. Connor Robinson gave McMurry its first lead of the contest on a bucket in the paint at 10:06 for a slight 13-12 edge. The first seven field goals of the contest for the Chaps came from seven different players, with Quay Johnson's three-pointer culminating the stretch for a 17-15 Chap lead.  Two free throws by Brancato tied the game at 23-23 with 3:25 to play, and a free throw by Baker gave the Chaps the lead they had lost eight minutes earlier. Another shot from beyond the arc by Johnson extended LCU's lead to 29-26, but McMurry's Will Adams scored off of a Jordan Holmes' miss with nine seconds left to cut the lead to one. A three-point attempt by Johnson before the buzzer was unsuccessful. A jumper by Baker began the offense for LCU in the second half, and Marcus Arrington followed with a three-pointer on the next possession to put the Chaps up 34-28 two minutes in. Ford scored on three consecutive trips down the court, hitting a jumper and two three-pointers, all of which came during the decisive run by the Chaps. Perez scored a game-high 22 points for the War Hawks, and Alex Lewis and Holmes each recorded 14.