Men’s basketball takes on Omaha

Christopher Bean, Assistant Sports Editor

The Western Illinois men’s basketball team looks to get back on track tomorrow night when they take on the Mavericks from the University of Omaha. The Leathernecks fell to 5-11 and 2-4 in The Summit League after their 87-70 loss to Oral Roberts last Thursday night. Omaha comes in at 10-10, but currently on a two-game losing streak after winning their first three Summit League games.

The Leathernecks have been inconsistent so far this season, and they continued that in their 17-point loss to Oral Roberts. Western shot it well in the first half, shooting 45.16 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc. However, they trailed by five at the half. They were able to keep it a five-point game until 6:31 left in the game, when Oral Roberts ended the game on an 18-6 run. Western’s offense didn’t shoot as well in the first half, shooting only 37.5 percent from the field, and like the first half; their defense couldn’t get a stop when they needed to. The 87 points from Oral Roberts is the 10th time the Leathernecks have given up 80 or more points. The Oral Roberts loss is a perfect summary of how their season has gone, playing well for 30-35 minutes then badly for the other five to 10 minutes which has cost them many of their losses.

Omaha’s most recent loss is a hard one to swallow, after losing by 15 to the winless Pioneers on Saturday night. Just like the Leathernecks, the road has not been kind to the Mavericks this year, with a 2-10 record. However, the script is flipped when they play at home, and they have yet to lose a game at home with an 8-0 record. The biggest reason for that is their offense. When they play at home they are averaging 80.5 points per game, versus averaging 67 points per game. The Mavericks have three players averaging double-digits: JT Gibson (14.2 points per game), KJ Robinson (14.1 points per game) and Matt Pile (11.9 points per game). Robinson is also fourth in three-point percentage, averaging 44.6 percent, right behind Ben Pyle in third, shooting 45.8 percent. Pile is the only player to average more than 10 rebounds in The Summit League, grabbing more than 10.8 a game.

One of Western’s biggest weaknesses has been playing on the road. They are 1-5, while Omaha is a perfect 8-0 at home. The Leathernecks need to find momentum on the road because six of their last 10 games of the season will be played on the road. If they don’t pick it up, it will be another long disappointing season for the Leathernecks.