Laker Gameday Preview: Feb. 14 v. SUNY Plattsburgh

The Oswego State men’s basketball team will take on its rival SUNY Plattsburgh on Saturday afternoon in a game that could determine the top seed in the SUNYAC playoff picture. The Lakers come into the contest with an overall record of 15-7, but more importantly come in with an 11-4 conference record, one win better than the Cardinals who are 10-4 in conference play and 15-6 overall.

The Lakers are coming off two comfortable wins over SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Potsdam, but this game against the Cardnals was the game they had circled on their calendar. Having already lost earlier in the season to the Cardinals, the Lakers will look to gain a victory and big step toward home court advantage for the SUNYAC playoffs.

The Cardinals come in having the third-ranked offense (74.4 PPG) and defense (67.4 PPG allowed) in the SUNYAC. They also rank second in scoring margin amongst SUNYAC teams, winning by an average seven points. The Lakers rank first in that category with an average scoring margin of 8.2 points.

Two players who will have to step up for the Lakers in this game are sophomore Brian Sortino and  junior Walter Sampson. The two starting guards will dictate how the Lakers’ offense will take shape against a difficult Cardinal defense. In the earlier contest this season, the Lakers had to attempt to recover from a 16-point deficit, which they fell just short of doing in the 70-66 loss. They will hope to avoid a similar situation on Saturday.

Sortino, who is the team’s leading scorer at 15.2 points a game on 43.7 percent shooting, will have to get going early and establish his scoring ability. Sampson is the only other Laker who averages in double figures at 10 points per game. These two must allow the game to be controlled at their pace, not the Cardinals.

The Cardinals will enter the contest with four different players boasting double-digit point per game averages. Reggie Williams, Edward Correa, Shamoy McIntosh and Jordan Moody are all averaging just over 10 points per game. The Cardinal offense is very spread out, meaning that points can come from anywhere on the court. In the first meeting between the two teams, these four players combined for 53 of the Cardinals’ 70 points.

Last season the Lakers won a thriller at home against the Cardinals, 73-70. The Lakers will be hoping for the same end result as they look to further establish themselves as contenders for the SUNYAC Championship.

The game will begin at 2 p.m. at Max Ziel Gymnasium in Laker Hall.

By the numbers:

1: This game can very well decide who will be at the top of the SUNYAC conference at the end of the regular season and clinch the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.

11: Number of Brian Sortino, the Lakers high scorer and leader on offense. Look for him to try and set the tempo early for this Lakers squad.

12: The Lakers will also be looking for their 12th SUNYAC victory of the season. The last time they won at least that many was the 2011-2012 season in which they went a perfect 18-0 in the conference, Jason Leone’s first season as head coach of the Lakers

38: The percentage of field goals which Plattsburgh has held their opposition to this season. Good for 10th in the country. The Lakers offense will have to step up and will have to convert key baskets.