Men's Basketball Travels to Christmas City USA for a Jovial Sunday Matinee

Men's Basketball Travels to Christmas City USA for a Jovial Sunday Matinee

Game #15 •  American (4-9, 1-1 PL) at Lehigh (7-7, 1-2 PL)
Sun, Jan. 8, 2017 • 2 p.m. • Bethlehem, Pa. • Stabler Arena (6,200)
All-Time Record: American, 26-22
Last Meeting: Lehigh 78, American 62 — March 6, 2016
TV: Service Electric Sports 2 
Stream: PLN
Live Stats

American Game Notes
Lehigh Game Notes  

WASHINGTON — The Eagles return to the scene of the 2016 Patriot League Semifinals when they meet Lehigh on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Stabler Arena. Both teams are coming off losses on Thursday. 

News, Notes, and Storylines

ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: The Eagles hold a 26-22 lead over the Mountain Hawks.  In the last 10 meeting, Lehigh is 6-4. Mike Brennan is 4-4 against Brett Reed's squad in his fourth season at American. Lehigh swept the Eagles last season outscoring AU 215 (71.6) -161 (53.6).

LEHIGH SCOUT: One thing is for sure, Tim Kempton will graduate this semester. The powering center has dominated the Patriot League the past three seasons and is continuing to wreak havoc, averaging a double-double on the season with 20.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. The two-time Patriot League Player of the Year is shooting 56 percent from the floor and 76 percent at the line. Lehigh has three other players in double figures — Austin Price (12.4), Kahron Ross (12.2) and Kyle Leufroy (11.3). The Mountain hawks played a tough non-league slate dropping their first two contests at Xavier — a three-point loss — and at Yale in overtime. The biggest win for Lehigh came at Mississippi State, an 87-73 win over the Bulldogs. As a team, Lehigh likes to score and move the tempo. The Mountain Hawks are averaging 79.2 points per game but their defense allows 74.8. 

WHAT IT WILL TAKE FOR AN AU WIN: S-T-O-P  Tim Kempton… Lehigh moves the ball through its center. As a freshman, Kempton put up eight and six points, respectively when he faced Tony Wroblicky. Since then, Kempton has averaged 17.3 points in six games against the Eagles. He scored 20 or more points in all three games as a sophomore and last season had a pair of 17 point performances in the final two meetings. Sa'eed Nelson will be a major factor for American on Sunday, as this will be the first true matchup that AU had a true point guard /center to face the Mountain Hawks since Pee Wee Gardner and Wroblicky in the 2013-14 season. 

KEY MATCHUP: The top matchup for the contest will be Mark Gasperini and Tim Kempton. The AU center had a tough task on Thursday against Nana Foulland and held Bucknell's center to 11 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes. Gasperini was in foul trouble for most of the contest and finished with nine points and three rebounds in 17 minutes. Sa'eed Nelson and Kahron Price shouldn't be overlooked either. Nelson leads the Eagles in scoring at 16.5 points per game while Ross is third at 12.2. Ross has the advantage in assists, but Nelson is a better defender so far with 35 steals. 

BREAKING DOWN THE BUCKNELL LOSS: The Eagles were unable to hold off a late run by Bucknell suffering their second Patriot League loss of the season, 69-60. Sa'eed Nelson once again led the charge on the scoring front with 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the floor and 6-of-8 from the free throw line. Lonnie Rivera contributed a career-high 15 points off the bench. Nelson and Charlie Jones led the Eagles on the boards with four rebounds apiece. AU shot 40 percent from the field and 73.3 percent from the line, going 11-of-15 from the charity stripe. The Bison put three starters in the double figures, starting with 24 points from Kimbal Mackenzie.  Zach Thomas and Nana Foulland contributed another 16 points and 11 points, respectively.  Stephen Brown pulled down a team-high seven rebounds, all on the defensive end. Bucknell shot 55 percent from the field off of 22-of-40 and made 22-of-31 from the line. The Eagles had their last lead of the game at 46-45 on Charlie Jones 3 with 6:34 remaining in the game. Thomas countered with a 3 10 seconds later and Foulland's dunk made it 50-46.

NELSON AMONG NCAA LEADERS IN MINUTES: Sa'eed Nelson is fourth in the NCAA in minutes per game, averaging 37.5. Saint Bonaventure's Matt Mobley is first and has played in eight complete games this season. Mobley averages 38.3 minutes per game. Nelson is the only freshman in the top 30 in minutes played this season. The closest rookie is Bryant's Adam Grant at 35.3 minutes per game. UCLA's Lorenzo Ball is third in the rookie class and 52nd overall at 35.0 minutes per game. The closest patriot player to Nelson is Sean O'Brien from Colgate and Malachi Alexander from Holy Cross. Both are tied at 42nd.

EAT, SLEEP, 40 MINUTES REPEAT … SNAPPED: After playing a season-best 45 minutes at Colgate and finishing his eighth complete game, Sa'eed Nelson was taken out for one minute midway through the first half against Bucknell. The substitution snapped 290 consecutive minutes on the floor at Bender Arena. To that point, Nelson had never sat on the bench during active play at home. Earlier this season, Nelson's complete game became the 50th  time a player under head coach Mike Brennan went the distance. American nearly had two players play the maximum on Thursday when Charlie Jones played a full 40. Jesse Reed '16 is still the only player under Brennan to play 50 straight minutes in a game. Under Brennan, AU is 37-28 in games where a player plays 40 or more minutes.