Men’s basketball tries to win back to back


Myanna Perdue/ Courier Staff

Brandon Gilbeck posts up against Purdue Fort Wayne.

Brendan Reidy , Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois men’s basketball team (7-13, 2-5) will travel to Vermillion, S.D., to take on the University of South Dakota Coyotes (9-11, 3-4) this Saturday. Both teams have had their fair share of ups and downs this season, but look to cap off the back end of conference play on a high note.

This will be the first time these two teams meet this season, but the Leathernecks will have their chance to host South Dakota later on in the season. Going into the matchup both teams are coming off victories. The Coyotes defeated the University of North Dakota by a margin, winning by 14 points. The Leathernecks are coming off a dominant performance as well. Western Illinois defeated the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons, 87-58. The Purple and Gold were able to knock off the No. 1 team in the conference, and provide a little pillow for their playoff hopes. Both teams are going to continue climbing the conference ranks, and this matchup is a crucial one.

South Dakota has the advantage going into this matchup because they are the home team. The entire Summit League has struggled while playing on the road, but that’s not the biggest thing Western Illinois should fear when they go into the Dakota Dome. Stanley Umude is the name to look out for in this matchup. He is the leading scorer for South Dakota. Many people wonder how the Coyotes would react to losing their prolific scorer Matt Mooney from a season ago, but Umude has stepped right in perfectly. Another name on the offense that can explode at any given time is Trey Burch-Manning. He is stepping into a bigger role this season on offense, and is shooting at an unbelievable clip from beyond the arc. He is drilling 50 percent of his shots from downtown. On the defensive side of the ball, their best defender is Triston Simpson. He has 30 steals on the year and will most likely be guarding Western’s hot hand all game long.

The Leathernecks will be looking to ride their hot offense into this matchup into their game against the Coyotes. CJ Duff is coming off the best performance of his career after dropping 30 points against the Mastodons. However, he is not the only threat the Leathernecks posses on the offensive end. Kobe Webster has been stout all season. He is currently averaging 17.9 points and 3.5 assists on the year. He is the man the Coyotes will have to keep a close eye on because he can light up the scoreboard at any given moment. On the defensive end, the man that will be troubling to South Dakota is Brandon Gilbeck. The reigning Summit League Defensive Player of the Year is currently top-five in the nations for blocks per game, and has been wrecking havoc on Summit League opponents all season.

Both teams want to extend their prospective winning streaks, but it won’t be easy with how well these two teams have been playing. The game tips off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Be sure to catch the action on ESPN+.

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