Event: Boston University Terriers (4-8) vs. LaSalle Explorers (8-4)
Date/Time: Thursday December 29, 2011-7 p.m. EDT.
Location: Gola Arena (Capacity: 4,000)-Philadelphia, PA.
Broadcast Info: Doug Brown and Chris Maurer will have a radio broadcast of the game for Boston University on 1510 AM The Zone.
All-Time Series: The two programs meet for the second year in a row and just the fourth time overall, with the Explorers holding a 2-1 edge. Last season, LaSalle escaped Agganis Arena with an 84-81 victory, after trailing by as many as 12 point in the first half. Former Explorer Darryl Partin, led the Terriers with 20 points, in his first action against LaSalle after spending two years with the team.
Last Time Out: Playing without point guard D.J. Irving Thursday, Boston University was trounced by Bucknell 75-61 in a game that was much more uneven than the final score showed. The Terriers defense struggled all night as the larger Bucknell squad hit 54 percent of their attempts and dominated the boards, pulling down 34 rebounds, compared to just 17 for the Terriers. Partin led the Terriers with 17 points, while senior Matt Griffin finished with seven points, five assists and four rebounds in Irving's stead.
It was a far different story for the Explorers last Thursday, as they took to the road and demolished Central Connecticut State 89-59. Five different LaSalle players finished in double figures, with Jerrell Wright leading the way with 21 points and nine rebounds in the win.
Storylines: Boston University will look to get back on track Thursday as they travel to Philadelphia for the third time this December; thus far the City of Brotherly Love hasn't been kind. The Terriers entered the month of the December on a three-game winning streak and won their first game of the month at Boston College, but have dropped four in a row, starting with a road contest at St. Joseph's. Since then it's been all down hill for Joe Jones and his young team with three consecutive blowout losses including a 68-43 defeat at Villanova.
Partin and crew will look to salvage the team's frequent with a win against LaSalle in front of a large Terrier contingent. The Terriers leading scorer played in 50 games in his first two seasons as a bench player with the Explorers, before transferring to Boston University before his junior season. Seven of Partin's teammates hail from Philadelphia, including Irving, whose close friend and AAU teammate Tyreek Duren, is the starting point guard for the Explorers.
While the Terriers have struggled as of late, the Explorers are red-hot, with wins in six of their last seven games. Four of the Explorers' starters are averaging double figures, with junior guard Ramon Galloway leading the team with 15 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. LaSalle is 18th in the nation in 3-point shooting at 40.7 percent, with the team averaging 8.3 made attempts per game.
Players To Watch: Darryl Partin will be the main focus of the game, for more than just his past ties to LaSalle. The talented shooting guard is the Terriers most dynamic weapon and erratic player. While he almost always finds a way to finish with double-digit points, there are two very different paths he takes. The "good" Partin is an unstoppable jump shooter with great range, who excels at driving to the hoop, is aggressive on the fast break and hits his free throws. On the flip side, Partin has been prone to settling for long jump shots and continuing to shoot the ball when he's cold. Boston University will need the former Thursday, against an Explorers team that has held the opponent's top scorer below their season average in eight of the last nine games.
Despite being just a sophomore, Tyreek Duren is the man in charge of running the Explorers offense right now and it's been running extremely smoothly. He was named to the Bob Cousy Watch List as one of the nation's top point guards earlier this fall and is averaging 12.1 ppg, 4.4 apg and 3.7 rbg. Even if Irving is no longer showing concussion symptoms and is able to play, his friend and former teammate's ability to slow him down, could be a factor in a possible LaSalle victory.
Prediction: Things haven't been going well on Commonwealth Avenue for a month and I don't expect the team to break the streak just yet. Even if Irving can play, no word as of yet, the Terriers haven't been playing the kind of defense or showing the consistent effort inside the paint, to compete with superior competition. LaSalle has won their past seven home games and when they win tomorrow they'll set a new record for consecutive wins at the Gola Arena.
LaSalle 75, Boston University 63