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Pregame Prep: Canisius visits high-scoring Samford in CIT


Canisius at Samford

7:30 p.m. at Birmingham, Ala.

First round: Tournament

Radio: 1230 AM. Online: Facebook Live

Records: Canisius 18-15. Samford 19-15.

The Set-Up: Canisius gets to extend its season, give young players more practice and give its seniors a chance to end the year with a better taste in their mouths. The CIT is a consolation event for 34 mid-major schools. Samford is a relatively young team and the program is in its third year under coach Scott Padgett, former Kentucky star and an eight-year NBA veteran.

Ranking: Canisius is 191 in the Pomeroy analytic ranking and 167 in the RPI. Samford is 153 in the Pomeroy and 170 in the RPI. (The Pomeroy uses more factors and is more accurate, in our opinion.) . . . The Southern Conference ranked 25th out of 32. The MAAC was 16th.

Familiarity: Griff coach Reggie Witherspoon has a handle on Samford. Witherspoon was an assistant coach last year at Chattanooga, the top team in the Southern Conference, and played Samford twice.

The Matchup: This is a tough matchup for the Griffs, given it’s on the road and Samford has more size. Look for scoring. Samford is 46th in the nation in scoring (79.4 ppg). Canisius is 61st (78.5). Samford is 12th in three-point percentage (40.3). Canisius is 65th (37.4). Samford ended its regular season with high-scoring losses to lower-half Southland teams (102-96 to Citadel, 88-79 to Mercer). But the Bulldogs upset Furman (21-11) in the playoffs before losing in the Southland semifinal. The Griffs have had 11 days to get over their quarterfinal loss to St. Peter’s, in which the starters were benched early in the second half. It would be nice for junior Kassius Robertson to rebound with a good outing.

Schedules: Canisius’ strength of schedule is 225th in the nation. Samford’s is 189th.

Top foes: Demetrius Dyson, a 6-5 transfer from UMass, leads Samford at 16.1 ppg. Wyatt Walker, a 6-9 sophomore center, is at 12.7 ppg and 9.5 rebounds. Alex Thompson, a 6-8 junior wing who transferred from Auburn, averages 11.8 ppg. Junior shooting guard Christen Cunningham is at 11.6. Triston Chambers, a 6-2 freshman who scored 2,996 points in his Alabama high school career, is a designated three-point shooter the Griffs must worry about.

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