Alcorn State (3-8) vs. Western Illinois (5-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 29, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,222) -- El Paso, Texas.
Television: None. Home Record: ASU 3-0, WIU 4-0. Away Record: ASU 0-7, WIU
0-7. Neutral Record: ASU 0-1, WIU 1-1. Conference Record: ASU 0-0, WIU 0-0.
Series Record: Western Illinois leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Alcorn State Braves and the Western Illinois Leathernecks will
square off on the final day of the Sun Bowl Invitational, as the two meet at
the Don Haskins Center in El Paso on Sunday night.
Simply put, Alcorn State has not fared well during the first two months of the
season, as it has won just three of its initial 11 games. The Braves opened
this event on Saturday night by falling flat against Denver in what turned out
to be a 67-49 loss, their seventh straight.
While Western Illinois' struggles haven't been as bad, it has nevertheless
gotten off to a poor start as well, sporting just a 5-8 record, including a
combined 1-8 mark in road and neutral-site games. The Leathernecks tangled
with the tournament hosts on Saturday and fell on the wrong end of a 67-64
final to the UTEP Miners.
The Leathernecks are 2-0 all-time against the Braves, sweeping a home-and-home
series during the 1990-91 season.
The Braves found themselves down by 20 points at halftime of Saturday's
matchup with Denver, and while they climbed back to make it an 11-point game
with under six minutes to play in the game, the deficit was just too great to
overcome. They shot a respectable 44.7 percent from the field in the setback,
but they failed to make a 3-pointer on four tries and had a lackluster showing
at the free-throw line (15-of-29). LeAntwan Luckett was the lone standout in
defeat, scoring 20 points on 6-of-14 from the field and 8-of-14 from the
Even prior to their most recent blowout loss, Alcorn State has struggled at
both ends of the floor, coming into the tournament netting just 64.6 ppg on
38.4 percent shooting for a -8.1 scoring margin. Luckett has been the team's
best scoring option all season long, putting up 14.7 ppg, although he does so
on less than 39 percent efficiency from the field. Octavius Brown (9.8 ppg,
6.5 rpg) is a solid performer in the paint.
WIU appeared in control of its opening-round game, as it led by 10 with under
five minutes to play, but it fell victim to a late 17-6 run by the Miners to
deliver it the heartbreaking three-point loss. The team shot a respectable
46.2 percent from the field in the loss, but was ultimately done in by getting
outscored at the foul line, 29-11. Garret Covington scored 16 points, although
he did so on just 4-of-12 from the field, while Tate Stensgaard added 10
points and Mike Miklusak finished with seven points, seven rebounds and five
The Leathernecks are one of the nation's best defensive teams, as they hold
opponents to under 40 percent shooting for a lowly 57.4 ppg, but unfortunately
their scoring attack (60.8 ppg) is often not strong enough to support the
cause. With his latest impressive effort, Covington became the team's leading
scorer with 12.2 ppg. Adam Link (11.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) brings stability to the
frontcourt, but nobody else averages in double figures.
WIU may be reeling after blowing a big lead in its latest game, but it should
have no problem getting healthy in this one against a hapless Alcorn State
squad that has been spiraling out of control in recent weeks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 61, Alcorn State 45
12/29 10:33:21 ET
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