Morehead State (5-6) at North Dakota State (9-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, December 21, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bison Sports Arena (6,000) -- Fargo, North Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: Morehead State 4-1, NDSU 4-0. Away Record: Morehead State 0-5, NDSU 3-3. Neutral Record: Morehead State 1-0, NDSU 2-0. Conference Record: Morehead State 0-0, NDSU 1-0. Series Record: North Dakota State leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: For the second straight game the Morehead State Eagles will take on a foe from the Big Sky Conference when they meet up with the North Dakota State Bison in non-conference action at Bison Sports Arena Friday.
The Eagles squared off with South Dakota on Wednesday and were dropped 85-75 by the Coyotes. The setback was the fourth in the last five games for Morehead State which has seen its record dropped to 5-6 overall after a 3-1 start to the campaign. The loss to South Dakota also came on the road where Morehead State has really struggled with losses in all five of its trips.
North Dakota State is returning from a two-game road trip that finished up last Saturday with a 65-48 win over Towson. The Bison are now 9-3 this season while winning four of their last five games. In games at Bison Sports Arena, North Dakota State has yet to be defeated in four tries.
This is actually the second meeting between these squads this year with North Dakota State earning a 69-57 victory at Morehead State earlier this month. In that first game the Bison blanketed Morehead State on the defensive end, holding the Eagles to just 30.0 percent shooting.
Morehead State connected on only 36.8 percent of its shots from the field and was outscored by an incredible 43-8 differential in points from the free throw line against South Dakota. The Eagles were called for 32 personal fouls though no player on the roster fouled out. The 10-point margin of defeat would have been much worse if not for the Eagles' 33-18 edge in points from beyond the arc. Maurice Lewis-Briggs finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
Milton Chavis (13.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg) is the only player for the Eagles that has consistently been able to reach double figures. However, Chavis has been severely limited with only one game in double figures in the last four, while he's averaged just 5.8 points per game. Angelo Warner (9.2 ppg) is the second leading scorer and has turned it on of late with double figure point totals in each of the last four games. Devon Atkinson (7.5 ppg, 5.1 apg) teams with Warner in the backcourt and is playing the most minutes (30.0 pg) on the team Overall Morehead State is scoring 71.0 points per game, while shooting a less than stellar 42.2 percent from the field. Despite the losing record the Eagles have managed a positive scoring differential (+1.4) as they allow 69.6 points per game on 42.3 percent shooting.
North Dakota State really separated itself from Towson in the second half last Saturday. The Bison shot just 41.7 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes but held the Tigers to 32.1 percent shooting while outscoring them 15-2 from the free throw line. North Dakota State had a 38-31 edge in rebounds and outscored Towson by a 24-16 margin on points in the paint. Mike Felt came off the bench and nailed three triples while scoring a game-high 16 points for the Bison.
The Bison are scoring at a similar rate to Morehead State by putting in 70.8 points per game, on a Big Sky-leading 45.8 percent shooting. The Bison have been a more successful defensive team this year by limiting teams to 57.8 points per game on 36.8 percent shooting. Each of those marks is among the top 30 in the country. A trio of players led by Taylor Braun (15.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.2 apg) are scoring in double figures for the Bison. Marshall Bjorkland (11.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg) has been scoring well playing in the frontcourt while converting 64.0 percent of his shots. Felt (10.4 ppg) has added offensive punch off the bench. Lawrence Alexander (9.8 ppg, 3.5 apg) could be scoring at a higher rate if his shooting improved (.398 FG percentage).
Morehead State had the advantage of playing at home when these teams first met this year. Even so the Eagles were still unable to post a win. Look for NDSU to complete the season sweep.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 68, Morehead State 60
12/21 10:33:53 ET