Leathernecks look to trample Bison

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Leathernecks look to trample Bison

Brandon Gilbeck looks to make a pass.

Brandon Gilbeck looks to make a pass.

Pedro Avila/Photo Editor

Brandon Gilbeck looks to make a pass.

Pedro Avila/Photo Editor

Pedro Avila/Photo Editor

Brandon Gilbeck looks to make a pass.

Devon Greene, Sports editor

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FARGO, N.D.— The Western Illinois Leatherneck men’s basketball team is heading to Fargo, North Dakota for a Summit League matchup with the North Dakota State Bison.

North Dakota State holds a 10-10 record this season and is 2-3 in Summit League play. The Bison have defeated the Leathernecks in the past 8 of the last 10 matchups. The last time Western came out on top was on Feb. 14, 2012, with a 49-36 win over the Bison on the road. This matchup will be a tough one for the Purple and Gold as they sit last in the Summit League with a 1-4 record in conference.

North Dakota State senior guard Paul Miller is 3rd in Summit League scoring, averaging 18.9 points per game, and is 5th in total points scored this season with 378. The Leathernecks’ defense has been strong allowing for 69.5 points per game, which is good enough for a second-place finish in the Summit League. They will need to shut down Miller in order to keep this a competitive game on the road.

Junior center Brandon Gilbeck has been dominant on the defensive end this season recording 53 blocks, which is by far the best in the Summit League. The 2nd  ranked player only has 36 blocks. Gilbeck’s presence has helped the Purple and Gold’s defense immensely, and should be an X-factor in their matchup against the Bison. The Leathernecks also are the leaders in steals per game with 7.5. Look for a high steal total in this matchup as Miller records the fourth highest turnover rate in the Summit League with 2.6 per game.

The Bison defense is nothing to ignore as they rank 4th in the Summit League only allowing 70.3 points per game. They also are holding opponents to 40 percent from the field this season. Western is shooting 48 percent this season, but the intensity of the Bison defense is bound to cause some pushback for the Leatherneck offense. Western will need to move the ball around more than they have in previous matchups this season, since they rank last in assists with 13.3 per game this season. Even with the low assist number, freshman forward Kobe Webster ranks 3rd with 4.4 assists per game.

This should be a competitive game with plenty of defense being played by both teams as they look to improve their in-conference play. They play this Saturday at 2 p.m. in Scheels Arena.

Twitter: @devondeadlysins

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