A handout photo of LIU Brooklyn basketball's senior forward Kyle...

A handout photo of LIU Brooklyn basketball's senior forward Kyle Johnson for a Sunday feature on the team. Credit: Photo by

NEC Tournament
- at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center, Downtown Brooklyn

No.1 LIU (24-5) vs. No.8 St. Francis, P.A. (9-20)
Tonight (Thursday): 7:00 p.m.

On LIU: Winners of 10-straight games, the Blackbirds are on a roll. It’s the first time since the 1997-1998 season LIU was a top seed in the NEC tournament. LIU has won 18 of its last 19 games. More important is where LIU stands on the national stage. The Blackbirds led the nation in free throws (30.4) per game, are third in rebounding (42.1) and seventh in scoring (82.7). Sophomore forward Julian Boyd was named NEC Player of the Week after posting two double-doubles last week in wins over Bryant and Central Connecticut State. Senior David Hicks averaged 20.5 points in those two wins last week. With four double-digit scorers, including Boyd (13.1) and fellow sophomore Jamal Olasewere (12.0), the Blackbirds have more than enough firepower to outscore opponents.

Assessment: This has been a dream season for the Blackbirds. Unfortunately, one bad game will end any NCAA Tournament dreams. But this team is just too deep and too talented for that to happen. With so much offense and versatility, it’s hard to imagine the entire team having an off night in the NEC tourney. But if the Blackbirds fall asleep on the defensive side of the ball, things could get sticky. Expect the Blackbirds to survive and advance.

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