Waves Take Winning Streak to Santa Clara, LMU
The men's basketball team takes a three-game winning streak into Thursday's game in Northern California.
MALIBU, California — The Pepperdine men’s basketball team, the hottest squad in the West Coast Conference outside of Gonzaga, will take its three-game winning streak on the road twice this week for games at Santa Clara on Thursday and rival Loyola Marymount on Saturday.
The short-handed Waves, without two starters and down to nine available scholarship players, have only four games left in the regular season and every one of them will be vital as Pepperdine attempts to earn a first-round bye at the WCC Tournament.
Lamond Murray Jr., in the midst of one of the top offensive seasons in Pepperdine history, has earned back-to-back WCC Player of the Week honors.
GAME #27 — Thursday (February 16) at the Leavey Center in Santa Clara, California: Pepperdine (9-17, 5-9) at Santa Clara (14-13, 8-6) at 7 p.m.
GAME #28 — Saturday (February 18) at Gersten Pavilion in Los Angeles, California: Pepperdine at Loyola Marymount (12-13, 5-9, at Saint Mary’s on Thursday) at 3 p.m.
WAVECASTS — Fans can listen to the Santa Clara and LMU games online via WaveCasts at PepperdineWaves.com. Veteran play-by-play man Al Epstein, a 2015 Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, will be behind the microphone (now in his 32nd season, this will be his 967th consecutive broadcast for the Waves).
WATCH — Santa Clara will produce Thursday’s broadcast on TheW.tv. Anthony Passarelli and John Stege are the announcers ... The Loyola Marymount game will be shown on Spectrum SportsNet and CSN Bay Area, as well as TheW.tv for out-of-market viewers. Steve Quis and Brad Holland will call the game.
SOCIAL MEDIA — On Twitter, get the latest news at @PeppBasketball and follow our coaches at @MartyWilson4, @CoachMarkAmaral, @Coach_BMoore and @jimpelman. You can also like Pepperdine Men’s Basketball (/PeppBasketball) on Facebook, and both PepperdineHoops and PepperdineWaves on Instagram.
COMPETING WITH PURPOSE — The Pepperdine University Department of Athletics is committed to Christian values, to the academic well-being of all our student-athletes and to competing for championships. The Competing With Purpose campaign highlights the commitment to our core values that we dedicate ourselves to daily. Learn more about our exceptional student-athletes on the Competing With Purpose blog at www.PepperdineWaves.com/purpose.
SANTA CLARA — Santa Clara leads the all-time series, 74-59. The Waves have split the season series with the Broncos each of the last three years. Santa Clara won in Malibu earlier this season so the Waves will have to win on the road to keep that streak going. Pepperdine was last victorious at Santa Clara in 2014 and has won there in just two of the last 11 trips.
Senior guard Jared Brownridge has been a handful for the Waves. He’s averaged 22.1 points in seven career games, including a 38-point breakout as a freshman and 30 points earlier this season. Last season he hit the game-winning three-pointer in Santa Clara’s home victory. He’s averaging 18.4 points this season (third in the WCC).
The Broncos have played their last four games on the road, going 2-2 during that stretch. Santa Clara is 9-5 at home this season, including 4-2 in WCC play.
LAST TIME VS. SANTA CLARA — Back on January 14 at Firestone Fieldhouse ... Lamond Murray Jr. (32 points) outdueled Santa Clara’s Jared Brownridge (30 points), but the Broncos had more in reserve in a 75-61 victory. SCU had four players score in double-figures to Pepperdine’s two, outshot the Waves 48.2% to 41.2% and made 14 three-pointers (a season high by a Waves’ opponent). After Murray, Chris Reyes scored 11 and Craig LeCesne had eight but no one else had more than three. The Waves led 24-17 but the Broncos ended the first half on an 8-0 run, then opened the second half with a 13-2 spurt.
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT — Pepperdine leads the all-time series with LMU, 99-66. The 165 previous meetings are the most between the Waves and any other school, as are the 99 wins. The Waves have won eight of the last nine and 32 of the last 40 dating back to 1998-99. Pepperdine lost at Gersten Pavilion in double overtime last year but had won the previous three there.
LAST TIME VS. LMU — Back on January 5 at Firestone Fieldhouse ... Chris Reyes dominated the final minute of Pepperdine’s 71-70 victory over LMU. He had the Waves’ final seven points, and each of his three baskets put the Waves up by a point. The last one came with 1.5 seconds left on a putback, and the Lions missed a three-pointer at the buzzer. Reyes led all scorers with 21 points, while Lamond Murray Jr. scored 19. There were 15 lead changes and 11 ties and the biggest lead of the game for either side was seven points. The Waves outshot the Lions 51.9% to 43.3%.
PCH CUP — An annual all-sport competition between two local rivals that are separated by just 19.1 miles of scenic coastline, the PCH Cup is in its eighth season of existence. Pepperdine has won six of the seven previous years. A home win is worth one point, a road victory is worth 1.5 points.
LAST GAME — One of the best defensive efforts of the season lifted the Waves to their first true road win of the season in their 11th try with a 65-60 victory at San Diego on Saturday. The Waves matched their season low for points by an opponent and held the Toreros to 37.7% shooting. Lamond Murray Jr. led all scorers with 17 points while Jeremy Major and Nolan Taylor both had 10. A 22-3 first-half run helped the Waves establish control as they led 40-27 at the break. Pepperdine survived a more sluggish second half in which USD closed the gap to four points with five minutes left.
INJURIES — Head coach Marty Wilson said before the season began that the key to success this year would be staying healthy, but unfortunately the Waves are once again facing adversity in this area. Pepperdine is currently without two expected starters and has had anywhere from three to five players sidelined. The Waves had only seven scholarship players available for a road game at Pacific.
The Waves started the season 4-1 with a healthy Amadi Udenyi, but struggled for a good portion of the season after he went down. The senior point guard, who was the team’s assist leader and top perimeter defender, tore his right Achilles tendon vs. Portland State on November 27. It’s the second Achilles tear during his Pepperdine career (he injured the left one during his sophomore season). Udenyi has indicated that he will seek a medical redshirt and return for a fifth season in 2017-18.
Sophomore forward Kameron Edwards, who earned WCC All-Freshman honors last season and might be the team’s second-best defender behind Udenyi, suffered a fractured jaw during a preseason scrimmage on November 5 and has yet to play.
Freshman guard Kaijae Yee-Stephens played the first four games of the season before suffering an ankle injury that required surgery. Freshman forward Nolan Taylor (knee) missed the first seven games of the season. Three other Waves have missed brief amounts of time due to injuries or illness.
This season, Pepperdine has lost a total of 80 player-games due to injury or illness. Last season, the Waves lost three shooting guards to season-ending injuries.
ROTATION — The injuries, as well as offseason changes to the roster, have conspired to give the Waves a very different look this season. Of the nine active players averaging double-figure minutes, only three saw action for the Waves last season, and only two are scholarship players. Of the other six, one was a redshirt, one is a graduate transfer and the other four are freshmen.
LAST THREE GAMES — During the three-game winning streak, the Waves are shooting 53.3% from the field (and have made at least half of their shots in all three games) and 49.0% from beyond the three-point line. Opponents are at 44.2% and 28.8%, respectively. Top individuals during this time include Lamond Murray Jr. (24.3 points), Jeremy Major (13.0 points and 5.3 assists), Chris Reyes (11.3 points and 10.0 rebounds) and Elijah Lee (11.0 points).
MURRAY — Senior guard/forward Lamond Murray Jr., an All-WCC second team selection last year, is closing in on one of the top offensive seasons in Pepperdine history. His scoring average has grown to 20.9 points per game, which leads the WCC and is 20th nationally. In league games only, he’s averaging 22.2 points, which is also the best in the conference by a margin of more than two points.
He could become Pepperdine’s first player to average at least 20 points a game since Brandon Armstrong in 2001, and it would be only the 11th time a Wave has done so. Armstrong was also the last Wave to lead the WCC in scoring.
Murray has scored 20 or more points 15 times this season, including nine of the last 11 games. He’s averaging 23.5 points during this 11-game stretch. He’s only the fourth player in Pepperdine’s Malibu era to have a streak of at least six games with 20+ points, joining Bird Averitt, Dane Suttle and Dana Jones.
Murray is one of nine players in Pepperdine history to post at least four 30-point games in a career. Three of those have come this season with a career-high 33 against Weber State, 32 against Santa Clara and 30 vs. BYU.
Owner of one of the top mid-range games in the country, Murray ranks third nationally in field goals made with 211. He’s fifth in the WCC in steals (1.2), 13th in rebounding (5.7) and 13th in field goal percentage (49.2%).
Murray is the first Wave with back-to-back 500-point seasons since Glen McGowan in 2004 and 2005. Murray is the 21st Wave to accumulate 1,300 career points, and he now ranks #18 on the Waves’ all-time scoring list. He’s scored 543 points this season and only needs to get to 580 to break into Pepperdine’s single-season top 10.
Murray is the first Wave since Armstrong in 2001 to earn back-to-back WCC Player of the Week awards. The first one of his career came on February 6 after averaging 24.0 points and 8.5 rebounds against San Francisco and Pacific. He got it again on February 13 after averaging 23.5 points and 4.0 rebounds against BYU and San Diego.
He had a breakout junior season as one of the conference’s most improved scorers. After averaging 4.0 and 6.9 points his first two seasons, he increased that number to a team-best 16.6 points per game (eighth in the WCC) last year.
He was rated as the nation’s 20th-ranked small forward in the Lindy’s preseason annual, and was generally listed among the WCC’s top 10 players in various preseason publications. Murray was named to the preseason All-WCC team by the league’s coaches.
MAJOR — Senior guard Jeremy Major has reached a couple of big milestones this season, becoming the Waves’ all-time assist leader and the first Pepperdine player ever to record four seasons with at least 100 assists.
Major became the program’s all-time leader in assists on January 19 at BYU. He broke Mark Wilson’s record of 450, which was set 33 seasons ago. Major had at least 100 assists in each of his first three seasons, the first Wave to do that three times since Doug Christie in 1992. Major picked up his 100th assist of this season at San Diego on February 11.
Major had 11 assists in the season opener against Cal Poly, the second time in his career reaching double-digits. He’s averaging 3.9 assists (seventh in the WCC) to go with 12.0 points per game (19th in the WCC). He scored a season-high 21 points against Belmont and had 20 vs. Portland. In league games only, he’s 16th in the WCC in scoring (12.3).
Major has a current run of seven straight games scoring in double-figures and he’s averaging 15.0 points during this span.
Major has also moved into Pepperdine’s career top five on the steals, three-pointers made and games started lists this season. He’s likely to end up #1 all-time on Pepperdine’s games started chart and #2 in games played.
REYES — Graduate transfer Chris Reyes has provided exactly the kind of production the coaches were hoping for. He’s the only player in the WCC ranked in the top 15 in scoring, rebounding, assists and blocked shots. Reyes is averaging 13.7 points (12th in the WCC), 8.2 rebounds (fourth in the WCC), 2.5 assists (15th in the WCC) and 1.5 blocks (fourth in the WCC). He’s shooting 53.4% from the field (eighth in the WCC).
His year-to-year increase of +11.1 points (he averaged 2.6 points as a junior at Utah) ranks him as the seventh most-improved player in all of Division I.
In league games only, Reyes is 10th in scoring (12.9) and fourth in rebounding (8.2). He scored the game-winning basket with 1.5 seconds left against Loyola Marymount on January 5.
Reyes has already surpassed or matched just about every career high he set during two years at Utah (including 24 points vs. Portland State and 15 rebounds vs. Portland), and he’s posted the first eight double-doubles of his Division I career. He’s scored in double-figures in 22 games this season (he only did that four times in two years at Utah).
Between Reyes and Brendan Lane (2013-14), the Waves have done quite well adding graduate transfer big men from the Pac-12.
MORE PLAYER NOTES — Pepperdine’s three-game winning streak coincides with senior walk-on Jonathan Allen moving into the starting lineup. He made two three-pointers and pulled down a career-high seven rebounds at San Diego last Saturday ... In league games only, freshman guard Elijah Lee ranks ninth in the WCC in assists (3.6) and eighth in steals (1.1). He’s averaging 11.0 points during the winning streak, including a season-high 16 vs. BYU ... Freshman forward Nolan Taylor is the Waves’ fourth-leading scorer in WCC play at 6.1 points per game, and he’s averaging 12.5 points in the last two games.
1,000 POINTS — Both Lamond Murray Jr. and Jeremy Major joined the list of Pepperdine’s 1,000-point scorers during the month of December. Murray became the program’s 40th player to do so on December 3 against Belmont, while Major became the 41st on December 20 at Louisiana.
ON POINT — Unfortunately, Jeremy Major and Amadi Udenyi have played their final game together for Pepperdine. They gave the Waves a tremendous 3+ years together at the point guard position. If not for three separate injuries, Udenyi would almost certainly be neck-and-neck with Major atop the program’s all-time assist list (Udenyi is 11th with 331).
Last year they became the first Pepperdine duo to record 100+ assists in the same season since 2005. They directed the Waves to the three lowest turnover averages in program history: 11.2 in 2015-16, 12.2 in 2013-14 and 12.3 in 2014-15.
DEFENSE — Without Amadi Udenyi and Kameron Edwards, arguably the Waves’ best two defenders, the Waves’ defensive numbers have taken a big hit. It’s been especially true from beyond the three-point line. Two years ago, the Waves ranked second nationally in three-point field-goal percentage defense (27.0%), and they were 38th (31.7%) last year. This season, opponents are making 39.6% of their three-pointers, which ranks the Waves 338th in the country. Opponents have made at least 10 three-pointers in a game nine times this season. But, in the last five games opponents are shooting just 29.4% from three. And, on the plus side, Pepperdine’s three-point shooting of 37.8% ranks 58th nationally.
CLOSE CALLS — Three of Pepperdine’s wins this season have been by one point, and in all three (Weber State, Little Rock, LMU), the opponent has missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
WCC NOTES — Pepperdine’s senior class will finish with perfect 4-0 records at home against BYU, LMU and Pacific and 4-0 on the road at San Diego ... The Waves defeated LMU in Firestone Fieldhouse for the 18th time in 19 years ... Pepperdine beat Portland in Firestone Fieldhouse for the sixth time in seven years ... Since BYU joined the WCC in 2011-12, only Pepperdine has picked up three wins in a season against the “Big Three” of Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU among the other seven teams, and the Waves have done it twice (2014-15 and 2015-16).
NON-CONFERENCE NOTES — Even without being short-handed, the Waves played a very challenging non-conference schedule. Of the 11 Division I teams that the Waves faced, nine had winning records and played in postseason events last season. Seven of those 11 teams posted 20-win seasons last year. The 11 teams had a combined winning percentage of .603 (219-144) last season. The Waves played three teams that made the NCAA Tournament, plus three from the NIT, two from the CIT and one from the CBI ... The Waves started the season 3-0 for the third time in four years ... Pepperdine beat two teams that played in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, Weber State and Little Rock, both by one point and both on missed three-pointers at the buzzer by the opponent.
WCC HALL OF HONOR — William “Bird” Averitt, one of the top scorers in Pepperdine and WCC history, will be inducted into the WCC Hall of Honor on March 4 in Las Vegas during the WCC Basketball Championships. A 1973 All-American and WCC Player of the Year, he holds school and league records for points in a game (57), season scoring average (33.9, which led the nation in 1972-73) and career scoring average (31.5 over two seasons).
ROSTER NUMBERS — The Waves brought three starters back among their six returning letterwinners, plus one redshirt. There are 10 newcomers on the roster (two transfers, five scholarship freshmen and three walk-ons). The breakdown is six seniors, one junior, three sophomores and seven freshmen (the scholarship breakdown is four seniors, one junior, three sophomores and five freshmen).
WILSON — This is Marty Wilson’s sixth year as head coach at Pepperdine and his 20th season in Malibu. He has compiled an impressive record here beginning as a student-athlete (1985-89), continuing as an assistant coach (1991-96, which included a brief stint as the interim head coach) and then returning as the associate head coach for three seasons (2009-11) under Tom Asbury. He was elevated to the position of head coach following Asbury’s retirement after the 2010-11 season. He signed a five-year contract extension that will take him through the 2020-21 season. Wilson was also an assistant at San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and Utah in between stints at Pepperdine and has been a Division I coach for 26 seasons. He ended his playing career #5 all-time in assists at Pepperdine with 342 (he’s now #10). The team went to the NCAA Tournament twice and the NIT twice in Wilson’s four seasons on the court. As a Pepperdine assistant, the team took part in the NCAA Tournament three times and the NIT once. The Waves have played in the CBI twice while he’s been head coach. Wilson’s son Jalon, a junior at Pepperdine, is one of the team’s student managers.
WILSONISMS — Some of these may be borrowed from other programs, but Marty Wilson has several expressions and acronyms he often uses that help define his coaching philosophy. Both Feet In: Players are expected to fully buy in to the program. When Wilson is speaking to the team at center court, everyone must have both feet in the jump circle ... OKGs: Wilson looks to recruit “our kind of guys,” student-athletes who will represent Pepperdine well and succeed academically and athletically ... Show Me, Don’t Tell Me: Actions speak louder than words ... GID: There isn’t always a perfect way to accomplish something, so players just have to “get it done” ... DAT: The Waves use the words “discipline, accountability and trust” as part of a triangle and expect their student-athletes to embrace these ideals.
ASSISTANTS — Success comes with stability, and Pepperdine’s full-time staff has gone unchanged for the fourth consecutive season. Associate head coaches Mark Amaral and Bryant Moore are both in their sixth seasons (Moore was promoted before the 2016-17 season). Amaral and Marty Wilson were assistants together at UC Santa Barbara for four years. Moore worked with the Cleveland Cavaliers for five seasons in a variety of roles, including player development coordinator, during the first LeBron James era. John Impelman, who was the director of operations for two years, was promoted to assistant coach before the 2013-14 season. Impelman is the great-grandson of UCLA coaching legend John Wooden, and his father Craig is a former Pepperdine assistant coach. Jon Pastorek is in his fourth season as the director of operations.
ACADEMICS — Marty Wilson takes his team’s academics very seriously, and the results have been very good. All 14 seniors that have played under Wilson while he’s been the head coach have graduated. Malte Kramer was Pepperdine’s co-Valedictorian and became the program’s first-ever CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2013-14. Since Wilson’s return to the program in 2008-09, players have earned 11 spots on the NABC Honors Court, 11 WCC All-Academic nods and 27 WCC Commissioner’s Honor Roll appearances.
2015-16 SEASON — The Waves literally duplicated their achievements from the 2014-15 season in 2015-16: an 18-14 overall record, a 10-8 West Coast Conference record for fourth place, a spot in the WCC Tournament semifinals and a berth in the College Basketball Invitational. The Waves recorded their first back-to-back winning seasons since 2002 and 2003 and made their first back-to-back postseason appearances since 2001 and 2002. Stacy Davis left as the program’s all-time leading scorer (1,786 points) and a three-time All-WCC first team selection and Jett Raines departed after a pair of All-WCC honorable mention seasons.
RECRUITS — During the November signing period, the Waves signed three outstanding guards to national letters of intent: 6-foot-5 Trae Berhow (Watertown, Minn./Watertown-Mayer HS/Powerhoops Hoops MN AAU), 6-foot-1 Colbey Ross (Aurora, Colo./Eaglecrest HS/Colorado Chaos AAU) and 6-foot-4 Jade’ Smith (Oakland, Calif./St. Joseph Notre Dame HS/Splash City AAU). Berhow is rated as one of Minnesota’s top 10 players. Ross was the Colorado state Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior. Smith has two state high school championships and was rated as one of the nation’s top 100 recruits at one point.
PEPPERDINE BASKETBALL — This is the 79th season of Pepperdine men’s basketball, and the 44th season that the Waves have called Firestone Fieldhouse home. The Waves began the campaign with an all-time record of 1,203-1,036 (.537). Pepperdine has been to the NCAA Tournament 13 times (last in 2002) and has won 12 West Coast Conference regular-season titles (last in 2002) and three WCC Tournament crowns (last in 1994).
WAVES IN THE PROS — Pepperdine once had a streak of 34 consecutive seasons with at least one Pepperdine alum on an NBA roster, which began in 1976-77 after the ABA/NBA merger and ended in 2010-11. Seventeen former Pepperdine players have seen action in the NBA, a list that includes notables such as Dennis Johnson (a 2010 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, the 1979 NBA Finals MVP and a three-time NBA champion) and Doug Christie (a 15-year NBA veteran who was a mainstay on the All-Defensive Team). Mychel Thompson is the most recent Wave to play in the NBA, appearing in five games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011-12, and he’s now in the NBA D-League with Santa Cruz. Two Waves — Yakhouba Diawara (2012/France) and Marcos Leite (1972, 1980, 1984/Brazil) — have competed at the Olympics. About 10 alums are currently playing overseas, including 2016 graduate Stacy Davis (Cherkasy Monkeys in Ukraine).
ABOUT PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY — Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won NCAA Division I championships in five different men’s sports — one of just 17 schools to have accomplished this feat — and nine overall. Of this elite group, Pepperdine has the smallest undergraduate enrollment, is the only school without football and is the only university that has not been affiliated with a “major” conference. The Waves have won a total of 25 team or individual national championships in their history. Pepperdine has also earned the Division I-AAA All-Sports Trophy, an award based on postseason success that’s given to the top non-football school, three times (most recently in 2011-12). Located in scenic Malibu, California, the university overlooks the Pacific Ocean and its campus and athletic facilities are regularly voted among the nation’s most beautiful. Pepperdine, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ, ranks #50 overall on U.S. News and World Report’s list of America’s best colleges.