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Western Illinois (9-16) at Denver (13-12)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 20, 9 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Magness Arena (7,200) -- Denver, Colorado. Television: None. Home Record: WIU 6-4, Denver 7-4. Away Record: WIU 1-11, Denver 5-6. Neutral Record: WIU 2-1, Denver 1-2. Conference Record: WIU 3-7, Denver 6-4. Series Record: Denver leads, 2-1.

GAME NOTES: The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks travel west to take on the Denver Pioneers in a Summit League bout at Magness Arena on Thursday night.

After falling to South Dakota State last Saturday, 62-50, Western Illinois has now dropped its last four contests. The Fighting Leathernecks are second only to IUPUI for worst record in the Summit League.

Denver comes into this game having won three of its last four and sits in fourth place in the Summit. The Pioneers downed IUPU-Fort Wayne last Saturday on the road, 73-62.

This is just the fourth meeting all-time between these programs, and Denver has the edge, 2-1. WIU won the initial meeting (84-78) on its home court on Jan. 30, 1978. The Pioneers won a neutral-site matchup (75-48) in Ames, Iowa on Dec. 7, 2002. Denver won on the road in the first meeting this season, 67-55, on Jan. 25.

Mike Miklusak and Garret Covington both scored 12 points for the Leathernecks in the recent loss to South Dakota State. Jabari Sandifer contributed 11 points in the losing effort. Despite shooting just 38.1 percent in the first half, the Leathernecks claimed a narrow 24-23 lead at halftime. Western Illinois failed to hold the lead in the second, however, as it shot a mere 26.9 percent, recording a scant seven field goals. The Jackrabbits improved to 39.1 percent and hit 21-of-31 at the free-throw line to put the game out of reach.

Covington leads the Leathernecks in scoring this season with 14.2 ppg on 41.2 percent shooting from the floor. He is the only WIU player to average double figures. Michael Ochereobia leads the squad in rebounding at 5.1 rpg, and Sandifer tops the team with 76 total assists on the year. Despite scoring a league-worst 61.4 ppg, the Leathernecks are allowing an identical 61.4 ppg, which is good for tops in the Summit.

Bryant Rucker and Brett Olson each tallied 18 points to lead the Pioneers past Fort Wayne the last time out. Olson grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists, while Chris Udofia chipped in with 16 points and a team-high five assists in the win. Denver went into the intermission with a 35-25 lead after connecting on 56.5 percent of its field goal tries, while IPFW hit on 50 percent of its shots. Neither team let up in the second period. The Pioneers hit the mark on 52.4 percent of their shots in the frame, while the Mastodons once again connected on 50 percent of their attempts.

Olson has proven to be the most consistent scorer for Denver this year, averaging 15.2 ppg on 48 percent shooting from the floor. Udofia checks in with 12.7 ppg, and is tops on the squad in several categories, with 97 assists, 41 steals and 62 blocked shots. Cam Griffin leads the Pioneers in rebounding at 6.0 rpg. On the season, Denver is scoring 65.6 ppg and giving up a mere 63.1 ppg, second only to the Leathernecks in the conference.

These teams are evenly matchup statistically -- both offensively challenged but both with stout defense. Given this balance, the hotter team has been the Pioneers of late, so expect them to keep up their recent string of success.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Denver 66, Western Illinois 63

02/20 10:17:51 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
3rd
CAR 3
TOR 1
 
2nd
DUKE 40
UCONN 32
 
Half
CHI 52
NYK 45
 
2nd
HOU 37
NOP 41
 
10:00pm Tonight
SAC
MIL
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
OKC
Final
RICE 72
STTHOMASTX 61
 
Final
UVA 70
CLST 54
Final
LIU 69
FIU 58
 
Final
STET 67
GSOUT 76
 
Final
QUIN 80
LEH 65
 
Final
SFLA 69
SHU 89
 
Final
RICH 65
SALA 54
 
Final
CAN 60
USB 59
 
Final
DEL 62
TEMPL 82
Final
WCU 56
WRST 69
 
Final
VERM 56
YALE 57
 
1st OT
SDKST 70
IDST 65
 
Final
RIDE 62
MRGST 48
 
Final
LATU 79
NICST 54
 
2nd
CHAR 52
APP 51
 
2nd
MISS 52
CCAR 53
 
2nd
DUKE 40
UCONN 32
 
2nd
BRAD 60
EUREK 31
 
2nd
PEAY 50
OAKC 43
 
2nd
JST 45
SMISS 24
 
Half
SD 27
MNTST 26
 
1st
UAB 28
LSU 20
 
1st
EVAN 20
OHIO 18
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSFU
CSDH
 
10:00pm Tonight
ORST
DEP
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
NEV
10:00pm Tonight
USF
PORST
 
10:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
WALLA
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
CALST
 
2nd Intermission
PIT 0
COL 0
 
3rd
PHI 1
FLA 1
 
3rd
CAR 3
TOR 1
 
3rd
CLB 3
WAS 3
 
2nd
MON 0
ANA 1
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
EDM
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
STL
2nd
JAC 0
TEN 10