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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 28, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Western Hall (5,319) -- Macomb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: UMKC 2-11, WIU 10-2. Away Record: UMKC 3-9, WIU 7-5. Neutral Record: UMKC 2-1, WIU 2-0. Conference Record: UMKC 4-10, WIU 11-3. Series Record: UMKC leads, 26-16.
GAMES NOTES: With the regular season rapidly coming to a close the UMKC Kangaroos and the Western Illinois Leathernecks will meet up for a Summit League bout on Thursday night at Western Hall.
Though UMKC has had a miserable season it has still secured a spot in the Summit League Tournament with a record of 4-10 against league foes with just two games left. With IUPUI just 1-13 in league action the Kangaroos have a grip on at least the eighth seed in the tournament with a chance to improve since South Dakota is also 4-10 in conference play. The Kangaroos have lost three straight and eight of their last nine games however. UMKC finishes the season on the road against IUPUI on Saturday.
Western Illinois had its place in the conference tournament locked up weeks ago. Right now the Leathernecks are more concerned with trying to capture the regular-season title and the tournament's No. 1 seed. The Leathernecks are 11-3 in conference play which has them trailing South Dakota State by just a half game for the top spot. However Western Illinois lost to the Jackrabbits in both bouts this year they would need SDSU to lose its final game of the season, while collecting wins in its last two.
In the first meeting this season Western Illinois grinded out a 68-63 victory at Swinney Recreation Center back in early December. It was the second straight win for the Leathernecks against the Kangaroos who still lead the all-time series, 26-16.
UMKC faced off with Tennessee Tech during BracketBusters weekend last Saturday. The Kangaroos lost in a 68-62 decision by shooting just 38.6 percent from the floor, while turning the ball over 16 times. Estan Tyler paced the Kangaroos in defeat with 16 points.
On the season UMKC is suffering from a sizable scoring margin (-10) due to its lack of offensive punch. The Kangaroos are scoring only 61.9 points per game while ranking last in the Summit League in assists (9.8 apg) and field-goal percentage (.425). On defense the Kangaroos are allowing opponents to shoot at a less than ideal 47.9 percent. That is one of the 10 worst opponent field- goal percentages in the country. Tyler (11.4 ppg) is often at the head of the score sheet for the Kangaroos as the only player scoring in double figures this season. Tyler has scored in double figures in five of the last six games. Thomas Staton (9.8 ppg) hovers around that level of production but has not been a consistent threat.
In its BracketBusters matchup with Cleveland State, Western Illinois fell in a 60-54 defeat. It was another typical game for the Leathernecks who played soundly on defense but managed to shoot just 37.5 percent from the floor in the final period.
Western Illinois has been a team that likes to grind out possessions and play at a slower pace than most other teams. The Leathernecks are the best shooting squad in the conference (.470) yet they rank last in points per game. The slower tempo allows the Leathernecks to really tighten up on defense as they rank second in the nation in points allowed (52.5 pg), while fitting in the top 25 in opponent field-goal percentage (.387). Three different players are scoring in double figures paced by Terell Parks (12.6 ppg 9.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg) who is a beast on the inside, leading the conference in both rebounds and blocks. Ceola Clark (11.7 ppg, 4.3 apg) runs the offense and can score himself, while Adam Link (10 ppg) shoots better than 50 percent from the field.
AS long as Western Illinois can control the tempo this game should be an easy win. Expect the Leathernecks to lock down on UMKC defensively and roll to victory.
Sports NEtwork Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 69, UMKC 54
02/28 10:38:00 ET