Oakland (2-5) at Western Michigan (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: University Arena (5,421) -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Oakland 1-0, WMU 2-0. Away Record: Oakland 1-5, WMU 1-1. Neutral Record: Oakland 0-0, WMU 2-0. Conference Record: Oakland 0-0, WMU 0-0. Series Record: WMU leads, 5-2.
GAMES NOTES: The streaking Western Michigan Broncos look to keep their winning ways going when they host the Oakland Golden Grizzlies at University Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Putting wins together has not been something Oakland has done much this season as the Golden Grizzlies sit at 2-5 overall after suffering a 77-50 loss to Tennessee. The beginning to the season has been grueling for Oakland due to the amount of travel as six of their seven games have come on the road. Oakland will finally get back home for a game against Rochester College after this matchup.
Western Michigan nearly let a double-digit lead slip away last time out but got a clutch layup from Austin Richie with five seconds remaining to escape with a 54-53 win over High Point. That win was the fifth straight for the Broncos and the second win in as many chances on their home court. Western Michigan will kick off a four-game road trip next beginning against instate foe No. 3 Michigan.
This will mark the eighth all-time meeting between these schools. Western Michigan leads the series 5-2.
Oakland just couldn't get its shots to fall in the first half against Tennessee as the Golden Grizzlies connected on just 5-of-32 field goal attempts and trailed 38-15 at the half. Oakland improved in the second half to 45.8 percent shooting, but it wasn't enough. Travis Bader was the lead scorer with 18 points but he contributed little else with zero rebounds and assists.
The Golden Grizzlies have not shot exceptionally well this season but are still hitting on 43.1 percent of their shots while putting in a respectable 70.0 points per game. However, on the other end Oakland has had less success, allowing 75.4 points a game while teams shoot at a 48.4 percent clip. Oakland doesn't disrupt passing lanes very well as a team with teams racking up 17.7 assists per game. Bader (17.3 ppg) is a scorer that isn't afraid to take any shot. However he could stand to improve his efforts as he connects on only 34.3 percent of his attempts. Corey Petros (14.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg) scores well from the inside and Duke Monday (14.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.0 apg) provides scoring and distribution. Drew Valentine (9.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.6 apg) is another player that puts numbers up across the stat sheet.
Western Michigan led by 12 points (33-21) at halftime against High Point but let that lead get away over the final 20 minutes by connecting on only 6-of-23 shots from the field in the final 20 minutes. The Broncos actually trailed 53-52 with 2:28 remaining but both teams then went cold until Richie's game- winner. Brandon Pokley was the lead scorer in the game with 12 points.
The Broncos come into this game sporting a hefty +11.6 scoring differential. That has not been due to an overly impressive offensive showing as the team scores 66.8 points per game and shoots 43.4 percent from the field. It is on the defensive end that the Broncos have been more dominant, limiting teams to 55.2 points per game on 38.2 percent shooting. Western Michigan also does a great job of controlling the boards with a +8.0 margin in rebounds. Pokley (11.8 ppg) has been consistent in putting up double-figure point totals this season but it is Nate Hutcheson (13.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg) that leads the team in scoring. Darius Paul (11.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg) also scores in double figures, while Shayne Whittington (9.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg) leads the rebounding efforts. Richie (6.5 ppg, 4.2 apg) isn't normally called on to score but does handle the distribution duties.
As long as it can bounce back from its poor shooting in the second half against High Point, Western Michigan should keep its win streak alive.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Michigan 68, Oakland 63
12/01 10:38:12 ET