North Dakota State (18-6) at Western Illinois (9-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 13, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Western Hall (5,139) -- Macomb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: North Dakota State 9-1, Western Illinois 6-2. Away Record: North Dakota State 8-5, Western Illinois 1-11. Neutral Record: North Dakota State 1-0, Western Illinois 2-1. Conference Record: North Dakota State 7-2, Western Illinois 3-5. Series Record: North Dakota State leads, 8-7.
GAME NOTES: The North Dakota State Bison have won two games in a row, and will try for a third as they travel to Macomb to face the Western Illinois Leathernecks in a Summit League Conference showdown at Western Hall.
North Dakota State has won two in a row and seven of its last eight games, all in conference play. The Bison lead the Summit League with a 7-2 conference record. They took down IUPU-Fort Wayne, 69-58, on Saturday to separate themselves from the Mastodons for sole possession of first place.
Western Illinois has lost two games in a row, including a 71-60 defeat at the hands of Nebraska Omaha on Saturday. The Leathernecks have lost three of their last four, and have fallen to 3-5 in the conference.
North Dakota State took an 8-7 all-time series lead with a 65-52 victory in Fargo earlier this season. Western Illinois swept the season series with NDSU last season.
North Dakota State was able to grab a six-point lead at the half over IPFW in its last outing, which allowed the Bison to cruise right through the second half and earn a double-digit victory. TrayVonn Wright netted a team-high 15 points in the win, followed by Taylor Braun's 14 points. Kory Brown chipped in 13 points, and Lawrence Alexander contributed 11. The Bison shot 48.1 percent from the floor in the contest.
Braun tops the team in scoring average this season, netting 18.1 ppg with a team high-tying 5 rpg. His 41 steals is best on the Bison, and 91 assists as well. Marshall Bjorklund checks in at second in scoring with a 13.9 ppg average on 63 percent shooting from the floor. Alexander chips in 11.3 ppg, and Wright adds 11.2 ppg. The Bison are averaging 77.5 ppg and holding their opposition to 67.9 ppg.
Nebraska Omaha went up by seven points at the half against Western Illinois, and the Leathernecks didn't make any sort of dent in the lead the rest of the way. Garret Covington led all scorers in the contest with 21 points, adding six rebounds to his stat line. Jabari Sandifer chipped in 14 points, but the Leathernecks shot a dismal 32.7 percent from the field in the game.
Covington is the only Western Illinois player to average a scoring total in the double digits this season. His 14.7 ppg is over five points than Adam Link's 9.4 ppg, which is second on the Leathernecks. Michael Ochereobia leads the team with 5 rpg, and Sandifer tops the squad with 66 assists and 29 steals on the year.
Western Illinois has some key injuries that have hurt the last few games, and North Dakota State is a strong team making a push for the Summit League crown. Even at home, the Leathernecks could struggle.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 77, Western Illinois 67
02/13 10:20:23 ET