By BRIAN LESTER
The Matchup: University of Findlay vs. Lake Superior State at Croy Gymnasium in Findlay, Ohio. Game time set for 6 p.m.
Records: Oilers are 2-1 overall and ranked No. 16 in the nation. Lakers are 2-1.
Series: UF leads 18-2. Oilers defeated the Lakers 75-62 on the road last year.
Last Time Out: Greg Kahlig came through with a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds as the Oilers knocked off Notre Dame College 86-58 on Monday night.
UF shot 34.7 percent from the field but drilled 12 3-pointers en route to their second consecutive win. Aaron Robinson and Alphonso Baity scored 13 points apiece and Jack Smith dropped in 10 points.
The Oilers crashed the boards and held a 55-36 rebounding edge. The total included 34 offensive rebounds. UF also played hard defensively, holding the Falcons to 38.6 percent shooting and forcing 22 turnovers.
Eight players scored at least six points and the Oilers got 37 points from their bench in the win.
LSSU won its first ever game over St. Joseph’s College, knocking off the Pumas 82-65 on Nov. 17 in Indiana.
The Lakers opened the second half with a 10-0 run and got 25 points and eight rebounds from Derek Billing. Derek Kinney poured in 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds while Jorddan Myrick scored 11 points.
LSSU shot 44 percent from the floor and held a 59-35 rebounding edge. The Lakers turned the ball over 19 times in the win.
Scouting the Opponent: The Lakers have won their last two games and are averaging 73.3 points per outing while giving up 72.7.
LSSU is shooting 42.7 percent as a team and holding opponents to 41.7 percent shooting from the floor. The Lakers are knocking down 33.3 percent of their shots from beyond the arc and opponents are shooting only 29.2 percent from 3-point land against them.
Billing has been the key player for the Lakers so far this year. The junior guard is averaging 18.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He has nailed six treys and has dished out seven assists.
Kinney is clicking for 15 points per game while grabbing 8.3 rebounds per tilt. The senior forward has also come up with six steals.
Sophomore guard Jorddan Myrick is the other main player for the Lakers. He is averaging 10.3 points ansd 4 rebounds per game and has dished out eight assists.
Three other players are averaging at least six points per outing for LSSU, which is shooting 67.7 percent from the free-throw line and averaging 17.3 turnovers per game. The Lakers are forcing 15 turnovers per outing.
One to Watch: Jack Smith has done a phenomenal job of embracing his role as the sixth-man for the Oilers.
The senior forward came through with 10 points and six rebounds against the Falcons on Monday and he is averaging 5.7 ppg on the year. Smith is also pulling down 4.3 rebounds per game and is second on the team in steals with three.
Smith has also made all five of his free throws and his ability to defend well in the post has proven key for the Oilers early on. As a veteran, Smith will no doubt play a big role in the outcome of this game against the Lakers, and if he can come through with another steady performance, UF should be in good shape.
Around the GLIAC: A full slate of GLIAC games is on tap for tonight. Here is a look at the schedule.
Saginaw Valley at Ohio Dominican; Grand Valley State at Ashland; Ferris State at Lake Erie College; Michigan Tech at Malone; Northwood at Hillsdale; Northern Michigan at Walsh; Wayne State at Tiffin. Check out the GLIAC hoops page for more information.
It’s GLIAC basketball time and the Oilers open a tough stretch of games with a tilt against the Lakers.
LSSU is always a tough team to play, home or on the road, and the Oilers are going to need to be at their best defensively to get the job done.
Rebounding could go a long way in determining the outcome. Both teams grabbed over 50 rebounds in their last games and UF needs to be the team finishing defensive possessions with boards.
The Oilers have to limit the Lakers’ shot opportunities as much as possible and do a good job of defending the 3-point line. They also need to win the battle for second-chance opportunities on the offensive glass.
Billing is one of the better players in the conference and the Oilers have to do a good job of slowing him down a bit. If they can limit Billing’s impact on the game, they will be in a better position for a win.
Kinney and Myrick are also viable options for the Lakers, but I think the Oilers have a little more depth and the play of Sean Samsel and Alphonso Baity at the point guard position will be one of the keys to success.
Both players are capable of handling the ball and shooting well, and when those two are on the floor together, it could give the Lakers a lot of problems from a match-up standpoint.
Kahlig has been on a roll for UF in the first three games and if he gets his shots to fall early, it will go a long way in energizing the Oilers offensively.
UF is at home tonight and when a team gets a chance to play a conference game in its own gym, it can’t let it slip from its grasp.
It is extremely difficult to win road games in this rugged league, so games at home count a little more for every team and the Oilers have to be ready to take care of business in their house.
The quest for a conference title begins tonight and I will have more on the game when I arrive at the gym. You can also follow me on Twitter @BLester1993.
Enjoy the game everyone.
Update: The Oilers dominated the second half and sealed the deal on an 85-63 victory. UF wins its GLIAC opener.
Update: Oilers have really come to life in the second half and own a commanding 76-52 lead after a wide-open 3-pointer by A-Rob. Their 3-point shots are falling, their defense has been exceptional and they have simply given the Lakers no chance of getting back into this game.
Update: The lift Jack Smith has provided for the Oilers is priceless. He has tallied a couple of assists, come up with a big rebound and threw down a jam to help the Oilers build a 53-38 lead with 11:24 to go in the second half.
Update: UF has missed a few 3-point shots but it has been successful scoring inside. Mark Frilling just scored on a layup to push the UF lead to 44-34 with 14:47 to go in the second half.
Update: Oilers have given up two layups to the Lakers and lead 42-34 with just over 16 minutes to play in the second half. UF needs to keep the pressure on defensively and not allow easy shots for the Lakers.
Update: And the Oilers go into halftime with a 36-26 lead as A-Rob scores on a tip-in at the buzzer. UF used a 9-0 run to take the lead and it has never looked back.
The play of A-Rob on defense has been huge and the Oilers have done a good job of battling for rebounds.
I thought UF got a huge lift when Jack Smith came off the bench early in the opening half. UF shot just over 44 percent in the opening half and it would be nice to see it shoot a little better in the second half.
Lakers shot 37 percent in the opening half. Seven players scored for the Oilers in the opening half, including eight by Jack Smith.
Overall, the Oilers played a solid first half against a good Lakers team and as long as they maintain the intensity in the second half, they will be fine.
Update: UF has taken control of this game by moving the ball around effectively and getting good shots off. It leads 32-20 with just over two minutes to play. The Oilers have also defended hard, limiting shot opportunities for the Lakers and using their depth to their advantage.
Update: The Oilers have shot the ball well early and have really done a good job playing hard on defense as they lead 19-13 with under 10 minutes to play in the half. So far, Lakers leading scorer Derek Billing has just 2 points. Give credit to A-Rob for the defense he has played on Billing.
Update: Jack Smith is one of the best sixth-men in the conference. He has scored four points and has helped the Oilers extend their lead to 19-13 with 10 minutes to play in the opening half.
Update: Good start by the Oilers offensively. UF has scored twice on offensive rebounds and A-Rob just drilled a trey to give the Oilers a 12-11 advantage with 14:17 to go in the half. Lakers have also looked good offensively early and the Oilers are going to have to disrupt that to take control.
Update: It’s game time at Croy Gymnasium for the Oilers.
Update: Starting lineups are being announced. We are just about ready to go.
Update: The Oilers are just about set to get rolling here at Croy. They will need to do a good job defensively early tonight and set the tone against a LSSU team that is very capable of shooting the ball well.
UF looks pumped up and ready for the challenge. The veterans on this team understand the importance of every conference game on this schedule.
Update: The Oilers and Lakers are warming up as we get set for the GLIAC opener here at Croy Gymnasium.
UF hasn’t lost a conference opener since the 2009-10 season when it dropped back-to-back games on the road. Oilers will definitely be looking to get conference play started on the right foot when they battle the Lakers here at home.
The key to success in this conference is take care of business at home and find a way to steal a few road wins along the way.
Update: It’s worth noting that UF will be done playing North Division teams by Jan. 5. I don’t think the Oilers have ever played all of the North Division teams in one stretch.
The North is expected to be better overall than the South, so these games are worth a lot for the Oilers in terms of strength of schedule.
Update: Good evening UF fans. The Oilers are on the floor warming up as we are about 50 minutes away from the opening tip of this GLIAC opener.
UF finished second in the South Division a year ago but won the conference tournament for the sixth time in program history. It was their first conference tourney title won the road and if the quest for another championship begins tonight.
The Oilers will play all North Division teams this month, including two in the Upper Peninsula next week, and success during this stretch will set the stage for a title run.