Oakland (10-13) at Nebraska-Omaha (8-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ralston Arena (4,691) -- Omaha, Nebraska. Television: None. Home Record: Oakland 7-1. Nebraska-Omaha 5-3. Away Record: Oakland 3-12, Nebraska-Omaha 2-12. Neutral Record: Oakland 0-0, Nebraska-Omaha 1-1. Conference Record: Oakland 5-4, Nebraska-Omaha 5-6. Series Record: Oakland leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: The suddenly hot Nebraska Omaha Mavericks will tangle with the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in a Summit League battle at Ralston Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Oakland has also been picking up some momentum of late with wins in three of its last four games including two straight. The most recent victory was an impressive 67-60 win over Western Illinois which had been in sole possession of first place in the conference. The Golden Grizzlies' recent surge has pushed them over .500 in league play (5-4) and to 10-13 overall on the season. On the road Oakland has earned just three wins in 15 tries but up next is a pair of tough home games against North and South Dakota State.
After losing six of its previous eight games Omaha has earned three straight victories for the first time this season after topping IUPU-Fort Wayne, 86-79, on Thursday night. The short winning streak has the MAvericks at a more respectable 5-6 in conference play though it hasn't done much to improve the team's sorry overall record (8-16). Omaha has won five of its eight contests at home but will next travel to face Western Illinois.
These teams met for the first time ever earlier this season when Oakland earned a 91-79 win on Jan. 3.
Points from the free-throw line proved to be critical in Oakland's win over Western Illinois. The Golden Grizzlies knocked down 22-of-29 attempts in the contest from the charity stripe, while the Leathernecks made only 10 trips to the line in total, making good on five attempts.
It hasn't been offense that has caused problems for Oakland but rather the defensive side. The Golden Grizzlies are letting up 73.4 points per game on an incredible 49.9 percent shooting. That opponent field goal percentage is the third worst in the nation overall. When the Grizzlies have the ball they have been able to find the bottom of the bucket with regularity ranking third in the Summit League in points per game (71.7). A major reason for the offensive success is the play of Travis Bader (21.6 ppg) who is the conference's leading scorer. Bader isn't a particularly versatile scorer though as he gets the bulk of his scoring from beyond the arc. Corey Petros (12.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and Duke Mondy (11.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.1 apg, 3.1 spg) have contributed as well.
Justin Simmons scored a game-high 23 points and Marcus Tyus added 22 off the bench for Omaha in its win over IPFW. The Mavericks were outscored 27-13 on points off turnovers but made up for it by shooting a scorching 62.7 percent from the field while the Mastodons were at just 42.2 percent.
Efficient scoring has been a strength for the MAvericks this season as they rank second in the conference and 27th nationally in field goal percentage (.472). That has led to the conference's fourth-best scoring average (70.6 ppg). However when they get back on defense the MAvericks have been disastrous. They are allowing the most points per game in the country (8.27) while teams knock down 48.6 percent of their shots from the field. The Mavericks are also suffering from a -8.3 deficit on the boards. Simmons (15.,1 ppg) and John Karhoff (12.0 ppg) have been the top scoring options for the team. Both have shot better than 46 percent from the field this season.
Though Omaha has seemingly turned a corner in recent weeks, the other shoe is bound to drop at some point and against a team like Oakland that can really erupt when Bader heats up from long range, that time might be now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oakland 76, Nebraska Omaha 70
02/02 10:46:29 ET