College Basketball

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Alcorn State (3-8) vs. Western Illinois (5-8)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 29, 7 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,222) -- El Paso, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: ASU 3-0, WIU 4-0. Away Record: ASU 0-7, WIU 0-7. Neutral Record: ASU 0-1, WIU 1-1. Conference Record: ASU 0-0, WIU 0-0. Series Record: Western Illinois leads, 2-0.

GAME NOTES: The Alcorn State Braves and the Western Illinois Leathernecks will square off on the final day of the Sun Bowl Invitational, as the two meet at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso on Sunday night.

Simply put, Alcorn State has not fared well during the first two months of the season, as it has won just three of its initial 11 games. The Braves opened this event on Saturday night by falling flat against Denver in what turned out to be a 67-49 loss, their seventh straight.

While Western Illinois' struggles haven't been as bad, it has nevertheless gotten off to a poor start as well, sporting just a 5-8 record, including a combined 1-8 mark in road and neutral-site games. The Leathernecks tangled with the tournament hosts on Saturday and fell on the wrong end of a 67-64 final to the UTEP Miners.

The Leathernecks are 2-0 all-time against the Braves, sweeping a home-and-home series during the 1990-91 season.

The Braves found themselves down by 20 points at halftime of Saturday's matchup with Denver, and while they climbed back to make it an 11-point game with under six minutes to play in the game, the deficit was just too great to overcome. They shot a respectable 44.7 percent from the field in the setback, but they failed to make a 3-pointer on four tries and had a lackluster showing at the free-throw line (15-of-29). LeAntwan Luckett was the lone standout in defeat, scoring 20 points on 6-of-14 from the field and 8-of-14 from the charity stripe.

Even prior to their most recent blowout loss, Alcorn State has struggled at both ends of the floor, coming into the tournament netting just 64.6 ppg on 38.4 percent shooting for a -8.1 scoring margin. Luckett has been the team's best scoring option all season long, putting up 14.7 ppg, although he does so on less than 39 percent efficiency from the field. Octavius Brown (9.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is a solid performer in the paint.

WIU appeared in control of its opening-round game, as it led by 10 with under five minutes to play, but it fell victim to a late 17-6 run by the Miners to deliver it the heartbreaking three-point loss. The team shot a respectable 46.2 percent from the field in the loss, but was ultimately done in by getting outscored at the foul line, 29-11. Garret Covington scored 16 points, although he did so on just 4-of-12 from the field, while Tate Stensgaard added 10 points and Mike Miklusak finished with seven points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Leathernecks are one of the nation's best defensive teams, as they hold opponents to under 40 percent shooting for a lowly 57.4 ppg, but unfortunately their scoring attack (60.8 ppg) is often not strong enough to support the cause. With his latest impressive effort, Covington became the team's leading scorer with 12.2 ppg. Adam Link (11.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) brings stability to the frontcourt, but nobody else averages in double figures.

WIU may be reeling after blowing a big lead in its latest game, but it should have no problem getting healthy in this one against a hapless Alcorn State squad that has been spiraling out of control in recent weeks.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 61, Alcorn State 45

12/29 10:33:21 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHA 91
CHI 86
Final
DUR 6
NOR 9
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
Final
CIN 4
PIT 0
Final
BAL 3
TAM 0
Final
NYY 3
CHC 0
Final
MIL 5
STL 1
Final
ARI 2
NYM 5
Final
PHI 0
ATL 1
Final
NYY 2
CHC 0
Final
DET 2
CLE 3
Final
MIA 3
WAS 6
Final
TEX 3
SEA 2
Final
CWS 4
BOS 6
Final
HOU 4
KAN 6
8:10pm Wednesday
MIN 0
TOR 0
Final
ANA 5
OAK 4
Final
SDP 4
COL 2
Final
SFG 2
LOS 1
1:05pm Today
PHI
ATL
 
1:08pm Today
DET
CLE
 
1:10pm Today
MIN
TOR
 
2:05pm Today
TEX
SEA
 
3:45pm Today
SFG
LOS
 
6:40pm Tonight
SDP
COL
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
STL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIN
TOR
 
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
BOS
 
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
KAN
 
Final
CHA 91
CHI 86
Final
ORL 86
IND 101
Final
MIL 103
ATL 111
Final
CLE 114
BRK 85
Final
MEM 106
DAL 105
Final
OKC 112
DET 111
Final
NOP 105
HOU 100
Final
SAN 100
LAL 113
Final
MIA 87
PHI 100
Final
NYK 95
TOR 92
Final
MIN 130
UTA 136
Final
BOS 102
WAS 118
Final
DEN 112
GSW 116
Final
POR 110
LAC 104
Final
SAC 99
PHO 104
Final
TAM 4
MON 5
Final
PIT 4
CLB 3
Final
ANA 4
DAL 3
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
PHI
8:00pm Tonight
STL
CHI
9:30pm Tonight
COL
MIN
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
LOS
Final
DUR 6
NOR 9
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR