ALBANY — When the teams first met this season, what the Siena men’s basketball team received from its top player “just wasn’t a typical Jalen Pickett game.”
That was how Saints head coach Carmen Maciariello described an effort from Pickett in which the sophomore had eight points, five rebounds and six assists, but didn’t score in that 81-69 Manhattan win until the Saints were down 20-plus points in the second half.
Now, heading into Sunday’s 2 p.m. rematch with the Jaspers at Times Union Center, Pickett is looking to build off the season-best game he produced in Friday’s 73-64 win against Rider.
“Yeah, definitely,” Pickett said of if he needs to look for his own shot vs. Manhattan. “Just take what the defense gives me, take advantage of what we have.”
Pickett did that throughout Friday’s win, registering a season-high 27 points, plus nine assists, in 35 minutes. He made 11 of 15 shots overall and 3 of 5 from 3-point territory, boosting his shooting percentages at home this season to 53.1% overall and 47.3% from 3-point range. On the season, Pickett is averaging 15.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocked shots per game.
Siena has four double-digit scorers this season in fifth-year senior Elijah Burns, junior Manny Camper, redshirt sophomore Don Carey and Pickett. The Saints operate best, though, when their point guard is looking for his own shot and attacking from the start of games. That’s especially needed against a physical Manhattan squad generally successful in making sure games are played on its terms.
“Manhattan doesn’t let you run offense,” Maciariello said. “They want to press . . . and they want to make you uncomfortable. We’ve just got to get comfortable being uncomfortable with their changing defenses, from zone to man, and their pressure.”
“We can’t let them speed us up,” Camper said.
Sunday's game is part of a doubleheader at Times Union Center. The Siena women play Marist at noon before the Siena men play Manhattan.
Siena (8-5, 12-10) vs. Manhattan (7-6, 11-11) is the MAAC’s lone game Sunday between teams with winning conference records.
The Saints are tied for second place with Monmouth, as both teams sit a half-game behind Saint Peter’s. Manhattan is in fifth place despite only being a game back in the loss column of Saint Peter’s.
Siena is 11-0 at home this season, while Manhattan — which is coming off an 80-57 loss Friday at Iona — is 5-8 on the road.
This season, home teams have won 68.5% of MAAC games.
BURST OFF THE BENCH
In Friday’s win vs. Rider, senior Sammy Friday provided several strong first-half minutes.
In a span of four-plus minutes in which Siena grew its lead from 26-15 to 34-17, Friday offered four points, three rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal.
Overall, Friday had four points, four rebounds, two blocked shots and one steal in 10 minutes.