Preview: Robert Morris at Mount St. Mary’s

Robert Morris (6-15, 4-4) at Mount St. Mary’s (9-12, 6-2)
When: Thursday, January 28th at 7 p.m.
Where: Knott Arena, Emmitsburg, Maryland
KenPom: RMU 289, MSM 223
KenPom Line: Mount -7
Link/TV: CBS Sports Network
Storyline: Robert Morris looks to go three for three on their current four game road swing. This will be the most difficult game on the trip, as they take on the current leader of the NEC.

Getting to know the Mountaineers: Mount St. Mary’s and Robert Morris have a long history, usually full of rare heartbreak for Colonials fans. Robert Morris could really regain their mojo with a road win for a nationally televised audience.

Of course, that won’t be easy. The Mount is 6-2 in conference, with one of their losses coming in double overtime versus Bryant and the other by just five points at Sacred Heart. Not to mention, these two teams met just two weeks ago, and the end result was ugly. More on that later.

When it comes to overall talent level, it’s hard to argue that any team has more than the Mount. Shooting guard B.K. Ashe has been good this year, averaging a team-high 14.2 points. He’s certainly in the running for conference player of the year.

His backcourt running mate is Junior Robinson, all 5-foot-9 of him. Even as one of the smallest players in Division I hoops, Robinson is a problem; he’s incredibly quick, can shoot well from downtown and has superb vision. Watching him and Kavon Stewart go at it all night is going to be fun.

Some other household names: Will Miller is a 6-foot-11 stretch four who will knock down everything from three if he gets going…. Freshman point guard Elijah Long is a smart point guard who knows how to move without the ball… Taylor Danaher is 7-foot… Power forward Greg Graves has been a little disappointing this season but is still one of the 10 most talented players in the conference…

Last time out: These two teams met exactly two weeks ago at Robert Morris. The result wasn’t good. Mount St. Mary’s took a 43-13 halftime lead en route to winning 76-52. A few things about that game:

-Rather unexpectedly, Robert Morris was without Rodney Pryor and Andre Frederick. That can mess with a team mentally.

-Mount St. Mary’s is a really good defensive team, and they did their part taking someone like Elijah Minnie out of the game. Minnie had four points on 1-8 shooting. Mount’s length gives a lot of teams problems.

-Mount shot 7-17 from three as a team. Will Miller went 4-8. Robert Morris simply can’t let him get good looks tonight. They have to close out hard on defense.

Making the case for Robert Morris: RMU is playing their best ball of the year since that loss, winning three in a row. The colonials should also have Pryor back. Even after a quiet game last Saturday, he brings a component to the team that no one else can replicate.

For some reason, I also think Andre Frederick could give some valuable minutes tonight. The colonials need his size to match up with the likes of Danaher, who grabbed eight boards in 18 minutes in their last meeting. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the way Conrad Stephens is playing, but no one has the size Frederick does. Maybe seeing a walk-on play the way he did will inspire something productive out of Frederick.

RMU got the doors blown off of them in the last meeting, but they still did a lot well. They forced 16 turnovers, blocked 6 shots and got to the line 28 times. Hell, they even outscored Mount St. Mary’s in the second half. Their biggest problem came on the boards (MSM had 13 offensive rebounds to RMU’s 3) and… shooting. Pryor might be able to correct those problems.

Finally, there’s the defense. RMU leads the NEC in defensive efficiency, giving up 91.2 points-per-100-possessions. The offense has been dreadful, but this defense should keep them in things.

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