The 2019 season has not quite gotten off to the start many envisioned for the Western Illinois men’s basketball team, as the Leathernecks have scuffled to a 2-5 start. They have had an especially tough time late in games, as they have led for varying sized portions of every game they have lost with the only exception being Indiana. The late game and closing ability of the Leathernecks will be put to the test on Wednesday, December 4 when they head to Indiana once again, this time for a matchup with an Evansville team that has a win over #8 Kentucky on its resumé.
WIU (2-5) has struggled particularly in the paint this season, as the departure of 7’0” big man Brandon Gilbeck has left a gaping hole in the middle of the paint. At just 34 rebounds per game, the Leathernecks sit tied for 268 in the nation in rebounds and tied for 281 in total rebounds with 238. In terms of rebounds per game, they have fallen nearly 100 spots from where they were a year ago and are seeing a full rebound and a half fewer per game than they were with Gilbeck in the middle. They will have to be hoping for a bounce back performance against a talented Evansville side that will be looking to pounce on any mistakes.
Evansville (5-3), on the other hand is riding a 2 game winning streak having toppled IUPUI 70-64 in its most recent game and taken out Morgan State in a 3OT thriller that finished 115-112 in the game prior. The Aces have been a fairly prolific scoring team in 2019, averaging a top-100 mark of 77 points per game. Their defense will have to be on point as well, as WIU comes in with a near top-50 scoring offense with 80 points per game themselves.
These two teams know how to put points up on the board, so this should be a very entertaining watch. WIU will need to crash the glass and get in position on defense to slow down the Aces, and Kobe Webster will need to continue his superstar-esque offensive display in order to secure a Leatherneck win. Tip off from Evansville is set for 6 PM on Wednesday, December 4. The game will stream on ESPN3 as well.