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Southern Illinois (6-3) vs. Nicholls State (1-6)

The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, December 21, 7:30 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: D.G. Smith Spectrum (10,270) -- Logan, Utah. Television: None. Home Record: SIU 3-0, Nicholls St. 1-0. Away Record: SIU 3-2, Nicholls St. 0-6. Neutral Record: SIU 0-1, Nicholls St. 0-0. Conference Record: SIU 0-0, Nicholls St. 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: The first-ever meeting between the Southern Illinois Salukis and the Colonels of Nicholls State takes place at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah on Friday, as the teams continue to compete in the World Vision Basketball Challenge.

The Salukis came into this three-day event having won two straight and three of the last four, but the squad was tripped up by UC Davis on Thursday in a 78-70 final. With the setback SIU, which will face host Utah State on Saturday, is now 6-3 on the campaign overall.

As for the Colonels, they've already clashed with the host school and, while they battled hard in the second half last night, still came away with the seven-point loss, 79-72. Except for a win over New Orleans at home in late November, Nicholls State, which will take on UC Davis on Saturday, has experienced nothing but heartache this season.

The Salukis were paced by Dantiel Daniels who tallied a game-high 23 points and pulled down a team-best six rebounds but still suffered the loss against a surprising UC Davis squad on Thursday night. Also scoring in double figures were Desmar Jackson and Jeff Early with 18 and 11 points, respectively. SIU shot a mere 38.9 percent from the floor in the first half, including 3-of-11 from behind the 3-point line, and still the team held a 31-29 advantage at the break. For the game, SIU shot only 34.8 percent from the field and 6-of-20 beyond the arc, but managed to make things interesting by forcing 16 turnovers. Playing just over 29 minutes per game, Early leads the group in both scoring (14.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg) heading into action on Friday. However, right behind him on the scoring list is Jackson who is responsible for 14.1 ppg despite his mere 56.4 percent accuracy at the free- throw line.

The Colonels, losers of four straight, were paced by T.J. Carpenter who tallied a game-high 23 points before fouling out in the loss to Utah State on Thursday night. Fred Hunter responded with 17 points and 10 rebounds, Dantrell Thomas 13 points and 10 boards before picking up his fifth personal foul. Off the bench, Amin Torres dropped in 10 points in 18 minutes of action. Nicholls State turned the ball over just six times, but the squad finished the contest a mere 37.7 percent accurate from the floor and 7-of-30 (.233) behind the 3- point line. Even though wins have been very hard to come by, Hunter has been a standout performer for the Colonels in the early going with a hefty 23.6 ppg, which means he accounts for a huge piece of the unit's 63.7 ppg. Thomas, who was listed as questionable for Thursday's outing, gives the squad a lift in the paint with an even 10 rpg.

Even though the Colonels showed a strong effort in the second half of Thursday's tilt, the immediate turn-around will not be kind to them. With a stronger defense, SIU is probably better suited to come out and attack in this meeting.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Illinois 68, Nicholls State 61

12/21 10:31:45 ET