FLORENCE — The scores from past games pretty much tell the story of North Alabama’s struggles against Christian Brothers.
Not only have the Lions (16-3, 9-2 GSC) lost seven straight games to the Buccaneers (12-6, 7-3), most of the games have not been close. Christian Brothers is averaging 73.4 points per game in the last seven meetings to UNA’s 58.0 points per game.
In each of the past three seasons, UNA’s lowest offensive output of the season came against Christian Brothers. That includes a 69-54 loss to the Buccaneers in Memphis earlier this season.
The two teams meet again tonight at Flowers Hall at 8 p.m. The women’s game will tip off at 6 p.m.
“We haven’t beaten them since the regional tournament in 2008,” coach Bobby Champagne said. “It’s something I’m aware of but I don’t get caught up in it. I really don’t pay attention to our series records against anybody. All I know is that this one is a big game and we need to figure out a way to win.”
UNA’s low scoring output against Christian Brothers has a lot to do with the pace of play. The Buccaneers run the Princeton offense and normally run off most of the shot clock as they work for a high-percentage shot.
The Lions, meanwhile, want to get in an up-tempo game and run the floor. That has been tough to do in recent games against Christian Brothers.
“They make you play defense for 30 seconds every possession,” guard Marquel Darrington said. “Sometimes it’s hard to stay locked in that long, so it sort of lulls you to sleep. If they do miss and get the offensive rebound they’ll hold it another 30 seconds.
“It’s tough to play that style because we want to get out and run. We feed off getting out in transition, so it’s hard to get in a good rhythm against Christian Brothers.”
Champagne said trying to get the Buccaneers in a more up-tempo game is difficult.
“When you try to press them they don’t panic and end up getting a good shot,” he said. “Plus they shoot the 3’s so well that it makes it hard to gamble defensively. They also do a great job using the shot clock and shortening the game.”
Last season the Lions lost 79-51 at Christian Brothers. In 2011 the Lions scored just 55 points in a loss to the Buccaneers and managed just 46 points in a loss during the 2008-09 season.
“Christian Brothers does a good job contesting shots without fouling,” Champagne said. “In the first game this year we just couldn’t make a shot in the fist half. We have to be able to execute our offense and make shots.”
Tonight’s game will be UNA’s first since moving into the national rankings this week. The Lions are ranked No. 22.
Champagne said the ranking is nice but means little.
“It’s always nice to be in the national rankings,” he said. “It’s something for people to talk about, but the only rankings that matter are the regional rankings because they determine who makes it to the regional.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.