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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 17, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sioux Center (3,300) -- Grand Forks, North Dakota. Television: Midco Sports, FCS-ATL. Home Record: EWU 3-4, UND 4-3. Away Record: EWU 0-7, UND 1-7. Neutral Record: EWU 1-1, UND 0-0. Conference Record: EWU 2-4, UND 2-4. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of struggling Big Sky Conference teams are set to square off at the Sioux Center on Thursday night, as the Eastern Washington Eagles pay a visit to North Dakota.
EWU hasn't been able to get into a rhythm this season, as it has yet to win back-to-back games at any point on its way to a 4-12 overall record. Things haven't been looking any better since the start of Big Sky play, as it has dropped four of its six conference bouts.
The Eagles hosted Sacramento State last Saturday and were handed a 60-53 defeat in a defensive struggle. They shot just 39.6 percent from the floor (including 7-of-22 from 3-point range), and tied their season-low for points in a game this season. Kevin Winford tallied 12 points and six assists in the setback, Venky Jois added 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while Martin Seiferth also finished with 10 points.
North Dakota's first season as a member of the Big Sky has not been a very memorable one in the standings, as it sits with just a 5-10 overall record and a 2-4 mark in conference. The team has been playing much better of late however, winning three of its last five contests.
North Dakota took on Montana State at home last Saturday and came away with an 86-73 victory. It put together arguably its most impressive all-around effort of the campaign, as it outshot MSU from the field, 52.8 percent to 41.7 percent, and converted 20-of-27 from the free-throw line. Jamal Webb had a career-game, shooting 9-of-11 from the field (5-of-5 from 3-point range) for 23 points while also dishing out seven assists. Aaron Anderson and Troy Huff also put up 20 points, and it was the first time this season UND had multiple 20-point scorers in the same game.
Each team has won one game in the all-time series, and this is the first meeting since 1982.
EWU has had little problem putting points on the board this season, as it puts up a respectably 69.8 ppg, but it has not fared well at the defensive end in yielding the second-most points in the conference (76.9 ppg). Leading the way for the Eagles is Justin Crosgile, who tallies 14.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg and 5.5 apg, although he shoots just 35.6 percent from the field. Jois has been much more efficient from the floor (.500), and he is one of the league's best big men, contributing 13.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg and 2.1 bpg. Collin Chiverton rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.9 ppg.
The offensive output for North Dakota this season has been far from consistent, as it shoots just 40.2 percent from the field for 65.6 ppg. Huff missed the first eight games of the season, and his return to the lineup has been a big reason for its turnaround in the win column, as he tallies 16.3 ppg and 7.0 rpg. Anderson (13.5 ppg) is the only player to have started all 15 games, and Webb chips in 9.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.6 apg and a league-best 2.2 steals per contest.
As bad as EWU has been this season, it has been at its worst away from home, losing all seven of its true road games. North Dakota's season has been looking up of late, and it should be able to outlast the Eagles in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota 68, Eastern Washington 63
01/17 10:36:45 ET