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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics Center O'rena (5,300) -- Rochester, Michigan. Television: FS-DET. Home Record: WIU 9-1. Oakland 6-1. Away Record: WIU 5-3, Oakland 3-12. Neutral Record: WIU 2-0, Oakland 0-0. Conference Record: WIU 8-1, Oakland 3-4. Series Record: Oakland leads, 25-6.
GAMES NOTES: In a Summit League showdown the Western Illinois Leathernecks will take on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies at the Athletics Center O'rena on Saturday.
Offense was in short supply in Western Illinois' contest with IUPU-Ft. Wayne on Thursday night but the Leathernecks prevailed, 43-40 earning their 13th win in the last 14 games. By virtue of a 50-42 victory over North Dakota State earlier in the week the Leathernecks are now in sole possession of first place in the Summit League with a mark of 8-1. The win against the Mastodons kicked off a three-game road trip for Western Illinois, which is 5-3 in away contests this season. The trip ends next Saturday against IUPUI.
After a three-game losing streak Oakland has managed to turn things around with wins in two of its last three contests. The most recent was an 89-71 victory over IUPUI that improved Oakland's overall record to 9-13. The Golden Grizzlies have a mark of 3-4. Playing at home has proved to be a benefit for Oakland which is 6-1 on their home floor. Oakland hits the road to face Nebraska Omaha next.
There hasn't been a whole lot of parity between these programs. Oakland owns a 25-6 all-time series lead although Western Illinois posted a 73-63 victory in the first matchup between them this season.
Western Illinois led by as many as 12 points in the second half against IPFW and held off a late charge from the Mastodons to claim the victory. The Leathernecks didn't make it easy on themselves as they failed to score over the final 8:35 of the contest.
The Leathernecks rank last in the conference in points per game (60.6 ppg). However Western Illinois has made the most of their possessions, shooting at the second best percentage from the field (.466). The Leathernecks' low scoring has resulted from a lack of production from beyond the arc as they rank last in the conference in attempts (250) and makes (95) from beyond the arc. Terell Parks (13.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg) has been a constant double-double threat for Eastern Illinois, while leading the conference in rebounding. In the backcourt Ceola Clark (11.5 ppg) adds additional scoring although he is the only other player averaging in double figures.
Travis Bader had a field day against IUPUI on Thursday as he nailed 11 triples en route to scoring a career-high 47 points. As a team Oakland shot at an impressive 55.4 percent from the field. The Golden Grizzlies also had a massive 37-18 edge in rebounds.
Bader (21.4 ppg) has been lighting it up better than any other player in the Summit League this season thanks in large part to his shooting from beyond the arc. In fact Bader has knocked down just one fewer 3-pointers on the season than Western Illinois has as a team. Corey Petros (12.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg) will match up with Parks on the frontcourt. Petros has racked up eight double- doubles on the season, while ranking third in the conference in field-goal percentage (.581) and rebounding (8.4 pg). Four of those double-doubles have come in the last five games. Duke Mondy (11.5 ppg) provides additional scoring. As a team Oakland is scoring a healthy 71.9 points per game, while shooting 43.1 percent from the field.
Although Oakland has had a ton of success on the offensive end, relying on Bader can be treacherous as he relies so heavily on shots from beyond the arc. However on their home floor, the Golden Grizzlies should be able to knock down plenty of shots from long range to secure a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oakland 72, Western Illinois 66
01/26 10:34:04 ET