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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 14, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Vadalabene Center (4,000) -- Edwardsville, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: WIU 1-0, SIUE 0-0. Away Record: WIU 0-0, SIUE 0-1. Neutral Record: WIU 0-0, SIUE 0-0. Conference Record: WIU 0-0, SIUE 0-0. Series Record: Western Illinois leads, 5-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of foes from the Land of Lincoln square off on Wednesday night, as the Western Illinois Leathernecks pay a visit to the Cougars of SIU Edwardsville.
Western Illinois enters the contest with a 1-0 record after it cruised to an easy 71-39 victory over Division III foe Wabash College. Although it was against lower-level competition, Western Illinois limited its opponent to just 31 percent shooting from the floor and forced 24 turnovers. Coach Jim Molinari led the program to an 18-15 overall record last season, which was an 11-game improvement from the previous year.
SIU-Edwardsville played its inaugural season as a member of the Ohio Valley Conference last year, and went 10-17 overall and 6-10 in league play to finish in ninth place. Lennox Foster is now in his seventh season with an overall record of 50-93. The Cougars come into this matchup with an 0-1 record after an 83-69 setback versus No. 15 Missouri in their opener. Although SIUE was unhappy with the result, it is clear the program has made huge strides from last season. The Cougars' loss to a ranked opponent by just 14 points shows improvement from last year's first two games when it suffered 20- and 30-point losses to Illinois and Illinois State, respectively.
The Leathernecks are the only team in the Summit League with two preseason all-conference first team selections on the roster. Ceola Clark III led the team with 13.3 points and 4.7 assists per game last season. He tallied 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and recorded five steals in his first outing of 2012-13. Center Terrell Parks was the other WIU player honored in the preseason. Parks led the team with 15 points and seven boards versus Wabash. Forward Adam Link and guard Jason Hawthorne are both vital role players for Western.
The Cougars were without their star forward Mark Yelovich for most of the Missouri game, as he was relegated to the bench due to foul trouble. Jerome Jones picked up the slack by pouring in a team-high 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the floor and 5-of-8 from long distance. Maurice Wiltz and Kris Davis provided 10 points each from the backcourt, but they combined to shoot only 33.3 percent from the field.
SIUE will not be very successful this season if Yelovich is not on the floor. He provides crucial inside scoring and rebounding, which in turn will make the team go. With that, Western Illinois may be able to escape Edwardsville with a victory behind its one-two punch of Clark III and Parks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 78, SIU-Edwardsville 70
11/14 11:23:06 ET
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