Western Illinois (9-13) at Nebraska Omaha (14-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 2:07 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ralston Arena (4,691) -- Omaha, Nebraska. Television: None. Home Record: Western Illinois 6-2, Nebraska Omaha 8-1. Away Record: Western Illinois 1-10, Nebraska Omaha 6-8. Neutral Record: Western Illinois 2-1, Nebraska Omaha 0-0. Conference Record: Western Illinois 3-4, Nebraska Omaha 3-4. Series Record: Western Illinois leads, 8-3.
GAME NOTES: The Nebraska Omaha Mavericks have won two games in a row and will seek a third as they host the Western Illinois Leathernecks in a Summit League tilt at Ralston Arena.
Western Illinois is coming off a 77-64 loss at the hands of IUPU-Ft. Wayne, and has lost two of its last three games. The Leathernecks find themselves 3-4 in the Summit League standings entering this contest, which is two and a half games back of North Dakota State and the very IUPU-Ft. Wayne team that won last Saturday.
Nebraska Omaha defeated IUPUI last Saturday, then turned around and beat sub- division opponent Peru State, 86-62, Wednesday in a non-conference bout. Like Western Illinois, the Mavericks are 3-4 in conference play, but own the tiebreaker with the Leathernecks with a better overall record.
This matchup in just the 12th in the history between these two programs, with Western Illinois holding an 8-3 all-time lead. That advantage includes a 79-72 overtime Leathernecks victory on Jan. 11 earlier this season.
Western Illinois came out hot in the first half of its matchup last Saturday with IPFW, but the Mastodons started even better. The Leathernecks shot 50 percent from the floor, but were outdone by 57.7 percent shooting in the half by IPFW, which cruised to victory. Garret Covington scored 18 points to lead WIU, while Adam Link scored 13 off the bench with five rebounds. Jabari Sandifer netted 12 points, and Mike Miklusak tallied 10. The Leathernecks shot 52.5 percent from the floor in the loss.
Covington is the go-to player this season for Western Illinois, averaging 14.4 ppg as the only player on the team to average a double-digit point total. His 20 steals is a team high, and 4.8 rpg total is second only to Michael Ochereobia's 5 rpg average. Link is second in scoring at 9.5 ppg, and Sandifer tops the team with 64 assists on the season.
Nebraska Omaha had no problem with Peru State, as the Mavericks grabbed a 48-19 lead heading into the intermission, and backed off in the second half. Mike Rostampour notched a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds to pace Omaha. C.J. Carter added 18 points and Justin Simmons tallied 10 in the lopsided win. The Mavericks shot 50.7 percent from the floor in the game.
Carter and John Karhoff are the two top scorers for Omaha this season. Carter leads the squad with 13.8 ppg, but has a thin margin over Karhoff, who tallies 13.4 ppg on 52.6 percent shooting from the floor. Devin Patterson (10.7 ppg) and Simmons (10.6 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers for the Mavericks. Carter leads the team with 83 assists on the year, and Rostampour tops the squad with a 6.7 rpg mark.
Western Illinois had the edge at home earlier this season, and managed to hang on for an overtime victory. But in Omaha, coming off a blowout win, the Mavericks should be ready to get revenge for the earlier loss.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nebraska Omaha 78, Western Illinois 72
02/08 10:15:48 ET