Lamar Hosts Utah Valley In Final Non-Conference Game

GO CARDINALS Head coach Steve Roccaforte has won 20 games at Lamar.
Head coach Steve Roccaforte has won 20 games at Lamar.

Jan. 7, 2008

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Cardinals And Wolverines In Final Non-Conference Game Of 2006-07
Lamar returns home Tuesday following a tough 79-77 loss at Texas Tech when it plays host to Utah Valley State in the final non-conference game of the 2007-08 campaign. The Cardinals will play three of their next four at home with Southland Conference play getting underway in Beaumont on Saturday night against UTSA..

Lamar-Utah Valley Series History
This is the first all-time meeting between Lamar and Utah Valley State. Lamar enters its final non-conference game of the season with a home game against Utah Valley State. This will mark the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Cardinals are 5-3 all-time against schools from Utah.

Scouting Utah Valley State College
Tuesday's game will be the second in a five-game road trip for the Division I independent from Orem, Utah. UVSC lost at Troy 80-67 on Saturday night. The Wolverines are in the fifth year of their transition to Division I status. UVSC moved from a junior college to a four-year college in 2003 and later this year will become Utah Valley University.
The Wolverines are coached by Dick Hunsaker who is in his sixth season as the head coach. He has also had head coaching stints at Utah (2000-01 as interim), Ball State, Manchester College and a stint in the CBA. He has also been an assistant at his Alma Mater, Weber State.
The Wolverines are led by junior G Ryan Toolson's 22.0 points per game and team-high 51 3-pointers made. In fact, over half of Toolson's attempts are from the outside. Senior F Jordan Brady averages 10.9 points and a team-best 8.9 rebounds per contest.
As a team, UVSC averages 69.1 ppg on 44.3 percent shooting. They average 21 three-point attempts per game and convert 37 percent of those for 7.8 an outing. The Wolverines have played three overtime games this season, losing to Boise State and Portland State before defeating Southern Utah in double OT.

Lamar In The NCAA Rankings
Lamar enters the Utah Valley State contest ranked in the top 60 in three categories: scoring offense-37th, assists per game-60th and steals per game-43rd. Additionally, Kenny Dawkins ranks 42nd in free throw percentage at 86.4 pct.

Non-Conference Numbers Under Roccaforte
Lamar is 11-15 in non-conference games under head coach Steve Roccaforte, with a 5-7 mark thus far in 2007-08. The Cardinals will conclude the non-league portion of their schedule at home tonight when Utah Valley visits the Montagne Center.

Close Ones
The Cardinals have lost six games this season but four have been especially agonizing for the LU faithful. In losses to Wyoming (75-71), Oral Roberts (65-57) and at Northern Illinois (65-63), Lamar was unable to maintain second-half leads in each contest. LU led Wyoming by 12 with 18:03 left and by 5 with 5:36 left; five days later against ORU the Cards had an 11-point lead in the first half and led 49-48 with 7:41 to play before being surrendering 11-consecutive points over the next 3:41; and after taking a 13-point lead on NIU with 16:54 remaining, LU was outscored 29-14 the rest of the way as the Huskies second-chance tip-in at the buzzer proved to be the difference. The Cardinals nearly pulled off a big upset last Tuesday at Texas Tech when the game was tied at 77 with 1:20 to play. But following a pair of Tech free throws with 22.5 seconds to play, Brandon McThay's 3-point attempt rimmed out as time expired.

Forcing Turnovers
The Cardinals' defense has done a very good job in forcing turnovers this season. Lamar has forced 235 turnovers while committing 191 miscues. LU is second in the SLC with a 3.67 turnover margin. The Cardinals have forced their opponents into at least 20 turnovers seven times this season, including five of the last seven. Rice, Lyon College, Louisiana College and LeTourneau all committed more turnovers than field goals made.

Triple Double-Double Sets School Record
When Darren Hopkins, Justin Nabors and Lamar Sanders each posted a double-double in the win over Lyon College (12/29), the trio combined to make school history when the trio became the first group of Lamar players to post three double-doubles in the same game.

The Season of Giving... and Keeping
Over the last six games, Lamar has averaged 19.0 assists per game, compared to just over 12 apg during the first six games. In fact, the Cardinals have assisted on 60.4 percent of their field goals over the stretch. They have also done a better job of taking care of the basketball, turning it over 15.0 times - well below the 17.7 early on in the season. In fact, LU's turnover margin has gone from +1.5 to +5.8 and sits at +3.9 on the season, which leads the Southland Conference.

Sharing The Rock
In the win over Lyon College (12/29), Lamar assisted on 28 of its 40 baskets for a 70 percent rate - a season high. A week earlier, the Cardinals handed out 14 dimes on 23 buckets for a 60.9 mark. Prior to Saturday, the previous high mark this year was 62.5 percent against Wyoming.

Lamar With Three In SLC Top 15 In 3-Pointers
Lamar is the only school in the SLC with three players ranking in the top 15 in 4-point field goal percentage. Brandon McThay ranks first at 46.2 percent on 12-of-26 this season, Kenny Dawkins is rated fourth at 42.4% and Currye Todd is eighth at 40.0%. As a team, the Cardinals rank third at 34.5% and second in 3-pointers made per game at 7.6.

More On The 3-Ball
Since Steve Roccaforte took over at Lamar last season, the Cardinals have made 351 total 3-pointers for an average of 8.0 per game. In those 44 games, LU has made at least 10 treys 14 times, including three this year. The season-high 16 made against Louisiana College on Dec. 8 are tied for the third-most in school history, 13th-most in the NCAA in 2007-08 and the second-most in the SLC this season. Only once in the past two seasons have the Cardinals failed to make less than four in a game (vs. NSU in the 2007 SLC Tournament).

Sanders Eclipses 500-Point Mark At Lamar
With 12 points against Lyon College, senior F Lamar Sanders surpassed the 500-point plateau as a Cardinal. He enters the Utah Valley game with 509 points in 44 games in a Cardinal jersey. The preseason All-SLC pick from Hickory Flat, Miss., has averaged 11.7 points in 44 games - all starts. Sanders was named Second Team All-SLC a year ago after scoring 391 points for a 12.2 ppg average and pulling down a league-best 9.8 rpg.

Barrow Eclipses 100 Career 3-Pointers Made
By virtue of his 3-for-5 performance from outside at Texas Tech, senior G Matthew Barrow has made 102 career three-point field goals in his 2-plus seasons with the Cardinals. He connected on 35 treys as a sophomore and 50 a year ago. He is currently 24 away from cracking the Lamar career top-10 list.

Dawkins Fifth In SLC In Minutes Played; 11 Cardinals With 10-plus MPG
Junior G Kenny Dawkins enters the Texas Tech game ranked fifth in the SLC in minutes played at 31.6. While that is six minutes more per outing than Lamar Sanders' 26.5 mpg, all 11 regular players for the Cardinals are averaging at least 10 mpg. Over the last six games, head coach Steve Roccaforte has implemented the same starting lineup and has nine players averaging 10-plus mpg, with no players on the floor for more than 29 mpg.

Home Sweet Home
Lamar will play 16 games in the Montagne Center this season. The Cardinals played 14 home games last season, posting an 11-3 record, which ranked as the fifth-best home winning percentage (.786) in the Montagne Center. Since the Montagne Center opened (1984-85), Lamar has won 68.6% of its games in the 10,080-seat arena. Overall, Lamar has won 73.7% of its home games since the 1951-52 season, the Cardinals' first year competing as a four-year institution. Lamar is 5-2 at home this season and 16-5 (.762) under coach Roccaforte.

Double-Double Trouble
Following the record-setting three double-doubles on against Lyon (12/29), a total of three players have combined for six double-doubles this season. Justin Nabors ranks third in the SLC with three on the year. Senior Lamar Sanders, who led the team with 12 double-doubles last season, has a pair thus far and Darren Hopkins has posted one.

Checking the RPI and Sagarin Ratings
Lamar is ranked 274 in the Sagarin Ratings (1/7/08). Sam Houston State is the highest ranked Southland Conference team at 55, followed by Stephen F. Austin at 66 and UTA at 104. The SLC is rated 23rd among 31 conferences and the Pac-10 is the top-rated conference.



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