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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 4:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: SIU Arena (8,339) -- Carbondale, Illinois. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: WKU 4-0, SIU 1-1. Away Record: WKU 0-3, SIU 0-3. Neutral Record: WKU 0-0, SIU 1-2. Conference Record: WKU 0-0, SIU 0-0. Series Record: Western Kentucky leads, 13-11.
GAME NOTES: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers travel to Southern Illinois on Saturday seeking their first road win of the season.
The Salukis, meanwhile, are just looking to get back in the win column.
Western Kentucky has dropped all three of its road tests so far, last losing 74-62 to Bowling Green on Monday. T.J. Price led the Hilltoppers with 24 points, but needed 23 shots to do it. Ben Lawson and George Fant each added 11, and WKU made just a quarter of its shots after the break to fall short.
The Hilltoppers missed 15 foul shots in the setback, the program's second in three games following a three-game winning streak. For the season the team is making just 63.8 percent from the free-throw line, a poor showing that needs to remedy itself.
Price and Fant are the only two players scoring in double figures on the season. Price is putting up 17.1 ppg and Grant adds 13.1 ppg while leading a hard-nosed frontcourt with 6.1 rpg. The Hilltoppers have outrebounded their opponents by nearly five boards per game.
Southern Illinois is trying to turn around its season after its first-ever loss to Chicago State last Saturday. The Salukis were 11-0 against Chicago State, but the Cougars scored the game's first seven points and never looked back. The setback brought SIU' record to 2-6, its worst start after eight games since beginning the 1985-86 season with the same mark.
Desmar Jackson scored 22 points and Mike Balogun had 21 to lead Southern Illinois, which shot 55.8 percent from the field, but allowed the Cougars to make 50.9 percent of their total shots.
Jackson paces the Salukis in scoring, netting 21.0 ppg, but has twice as many turnovers (22) as assists. Anthony Beane and Jalen Pendleton tally 12.1 and 11.3 ppg, respectively, and no other player averages more than six points each time out.
Like the Hilltoppers, Southern Illinois struggles at the foul line (.663), while making just 29.6 percent from behind the arc.
Western Kentucky boasts a 13-11 series lead and has won the last three meetings, including a win in Carbondale two years ago, which happens to be the Hilltoppers' last road win against a non-conference opponent.
A fourth straight win will not come easy given SIU's urgency to get back on track, but the Hilltoppers should have just enough to sneak by and pull out their first road victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Kentucky 77, Southern Illinois 76
12/07 10:43:40 ET