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Denver (9-10) at Western Illinois (8-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday January 25, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Western Hall (5,139) -- Macomb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: DU 5-3, WIU 6-1. Away Record: DU 3-5, WIU 0-9. Neutral Record: DU 1-2, WIU 2-1. Conference Record: DU 2-2, WIU 2-2. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Denver Pioneers will try to keep up their momentum as they visit Western Hall to battle the Western Illinois Leathernecks in a Summit League tilt.
Coach Joe Scott's Pioneers ended a three-game losing streak last Saturday with a 66-45 rout of IUPUI. Denver followed up the dominant performance with a 74-60 win at Nebraska Omaha. The Pioneers drained 62.5 percent of their field goal attempts including 10-of-19 from 3-point range to coast past the Mavericks. They also assisted on 20 of their 30 makes from the floor and enjoyed a 26-20 edge in the rebounding battle.
WIU snapped a two-game losing streak on Thursday with a 79-61 win over South Dakota. Coach Jim Molinari earned his 300th career victory when his team downed the Coyotes. The Leathernecks took a 33-21 lead into the intermission before knocking down 71.4 percent of their field-goal tries in the second stanza to pull away even further. WIU survived 15 turnovers, by converting 62.2 percent from the field, including a 7-of-10 clip from behind the 3-point line on the night.
This will be the first meeting in history between Denver and WIU.
Denver is ranked second to last among Summit League schools in scoring offense at 65.1 ppg, but it is second in scoring defense with an allowance of only 63.1 ppg. The Pioneers had no trouble on the offensive end against Omaha as four players scored in double-figures in the victory. Bryant Rucker scored 19 points with the help of a 4-of-5 clip from 3-point range. Sophomore Marcus Byrd tallied 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Junior point guard Brett Olson contributed 15 points, five assists and three steals, while Cam Griffin registered 13 points and five boards. Olson is pacing the team with 14.5 ppg while Chris Udofia is second in scoring (12.1 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg).
The Leathernecks are the only team in the Summit League ahead of Denver in scoring defense, as they allow only 60.4 ppg. WIU is also the sole team behind the visitors in points per game, as it is posting just 62.4 ppg on 46.4 percent shooting from the field. In the Leathernecks win over USD, Garret Covington scored 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds to pace the team. Also scoring in double-figures for WIU were Jabari Sandifer with 13 points while both Michael Ochereobia and Tate Stensgaard chipped in with 10. Covington is leading the team on the season with 14.2 ppg. The 6-foot-5 freshman guard has knocked down at least three shots from beyond the arc in five consecutive games.
Points will be at a premium in this one as two excellent defensive-minded teams collide. WIU has a slightly stronger bench while the visitors possess a little more experience. Although Covington has been on fire from 3-point range, Denver has more than one capable shooter from beyond the arc which could help it pick up a very helpful win on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Denver 59, Western Illinois 55
01/25 10:23:44 ET