By BRIAN LESTER
The Matchup: University of Findlay vs. Northwood University at Croy Gymnasium in Findlay, Ohio. Game time set for 1 p.m.
Records: Oilers are 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. They are ranked No. 16 in the nation. Timberwolves are 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
Series: UF leads 20-5. Oilers won 78-64 last season at Croy Gymnasium.
Last Time Out: Jack Smith scored 19 points, tying his career high, and also grabbed six rebounds as UF rolled to an 85-63 win over Lake Superior State Thursday night at Croy.
Greg Kahlig pumped in 15 points, Brad Piehl scored 12 points and Aaron Robinson clicked for 10 as the Oilers shot 50 percent from the field. UF made 10 treys in the win and forced 16 turnovers.
The Oilers, who led 36-26 at halftime, also won the battle on the boards, out-rebounding the Lakers 36-31. It was the third consecutive win for UF.
NU tumbled to its fourth consecutive loss as it fell 60-56 to Hillsdale on Thursday. The Timberwolves shot 50 percent from the floor and held a 33-22 edge on the boards but came up short down the stretch.
Andrew VanDierenDonck scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Timberwolves. He was the only player in double figures.
Scouting the Opponent: NU comes into this game averaging 68.4 points per outing. It is giving up 72.6 points per tilt.
The Timberwolves are shooting 43.6 percent from the field and holding opponents to 42.9 percent shooting. From beyond the arc, NU is shooting 32.7 percent and allowing opponents to shoot 33.3 percent from long range.
VanDierenDonck, a senior guard, leads NU in scoring. He is averaging 12.2 points and 5 rebounds per game. He has hit seven treys and has tallied five steals as well.
Senior forward Wes Wilcox is clicking for 10.8 ppg and has dished out 13 assists. He has hit five treys but has turned the ball over 15 times.
Sophomore center Will Bowles is the other player scoring in double figures for NU. He is averaging 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Bowles is shooting 68.8 percent from the floor.
Three other players average at least eight points per outing for NU, which has six seniors on its roster and entered this season picked to finish fourth in the GLIAC North Division. The Timberwolves received two first-place votes.
One to Watch: Mark Frilling doesn’t light up the scoreboard but he has been a steady contributor for the Oilers through the first four games.
He is averaging 4 points per outing and has grabbed at least five rebounds in each of his first four games.
Frilling has also blocked seven shots, a credit to how hard he plays on defense.
With NU being one of the more physical teams in the GLIAC, Frilling will need to be a factor off the bench, especially when it comes to rebounding and defending in the post. If he turns in another good effort, the Oilers will be in a good shape.
Around the GLIAC: The first week of conference play comes to a close with another full schedule of games.
Saginaw Valley State at Tiffin; Ferris State at Ashland; Grand Valley State at Lake Erie College; Lake Superior State at Hillsdale; Michigan Tech at Walsh; Wayne State at Ohio Dominican; Northern Michigan at Malone.
Check out the GLIAC basketball page for more information.
The Oilers come in looking to close out the first week of conference play with a pair of wins.
The key to success in the GLIAC is to take care of business at home and find a way to steal a few road wins, so no one needs to remind UF of the importance of this game.
The Oilers looked very good defensively against the Lakers and if they can bring another intensity-driven effort to the gym today, they are going to be in a position to knock off NU.
The Timberwolves will compete hard and they have several key players. UF needs to focus on keeping VanDierenDonck in check. He is the best scorer on the team and one of the team’s best rebounders as well.
With the exception of the West Liberty game, UF has done a good job of limiting opportunities for an opponent’s best player, and that trend needs to continue.
NU has a nice cast of veteran players and they have six players who average 8 or more points per outing.
But UF is a little bit deeper and the Oilers can create a lot of mismatch problems with their lineups. Kahlig, Piehl and A-Rob have all played like veterans early and Smith has clearly embraced his role as a big-time player off the bench.
As long as the Oilers continue to get the balance they have thrived on during their win streak, they will be fine.
From a defensive standpoint, the Oilers are up against a Timberwolves team that is grabbing 36.6 rebounds per game. UF needs to win the battle on the boards. It needs to limit second-chance baskets for NU and create second chances for itself.
No game is easy in this conference, but the Oilers a favorite for a GLIAC title and they need to play like one today and build a little extra momentum for the trip to the Upper Peninsula next week.
I’ll have more on the game when I arrive at the gym. You can also follow me on Twitter @BLester1993.
Enjoy the game everyone.
Update: Oilers seal the deal on another GLIAC win. UF knocks off NU 84-72 and now it’s off to the Upper Peninsula for the first road test of the season.
Update: The Oilers lead 72-58 and are about to close the deal on their fourth consecutive win. Good effort defensively by the Oilers again.
Update: Oilers lead 67-53 with 5:43 to go in the second half. NU starting to apply some pressure. UF just has to deal with it and maintain control of this game.
Update: UF is in front 50-41 with 14:59 to go in the second half. Oilers have struggled a bit offensively out of the gate but they are playing well defensively. At some point, UF will go on a run.
Update: Greg Kahlig has 23 points and the Oilers have a 48-39 lead with 16:33 left in the second half. NU still hanging around but I expect UF to pick it up on the defensive end of the floor and put this game out of reach.
Update: Second half about to begin. Oilers need to just finish this now by coming out strong to start the half and take away any last hopes the Timberwolves have of getting back into this game.
Update: It’s halftime at Croy Gymnasium and the Oilers have heated up offensively. Greg Kahlig has scored 19 points to help UF take a 44-32 lead at the break. UF has also played well on the defensive end of the floor, forcing NU to take a lot of tough shots.
Oilers hit seven treys in the opening half, and after finding themselves in a 23-23 tie with 6:26 to go, they close on a 21-9 run. UF shot 56.7 percent from the floor in the opening half. NU shot 40 percent and no one is in double figures for the Timberwolves.
Update: Greg Kahlig has nailed four treys and the Oilers are in front 34-25. UF has started to open things up from the outside and continue to attack inside as well. The play of UF on defense has been impressive. Oilers are on an 11-2 run.
Update: Oilers have come to life offensively and have opened up a 15-12 lead. UF has done a good job of attacking the basket and it continues to play hard on the defensive end of the floor.
Update: Oilers miss their first six shots but finally get going as Jake Heagen and Jack Smith both score. Oilers trail 7-4 with 14:29 to go. UF has played hard on defense. It simply has to get going offensively and it will be fine.
Update: Here we go. It’s game time for the Oilers.
Update: Starting lineup being announced. It’s almost game time UF fans.
Update: The Oilers need to try and grab the momentum early. They are playing an NU team that has lost to two nationally ranked teams in Winona State and Indianapolis. UF doesn’t want a team like NU hanging around.
Update: It’s almost game time here at Croy as the Oilers get set to take on the Timberwolves. We’ll find out if the shooting performance the Oilers had in the second half against the Lakers will carry over to today.
Update: Oilers are on the floor warming up. Just over 16 minutes away from the opening tip against the Timberwolves.
Update: The thing we have to remember about this UF team is that it doesn’t need to play its best basketball in November. The key is to build for March and the Oilers have the potential to be very good when it matters most.
Update: Oilers shot a lot better in the win over the Lakers, knocking down 50 percent of their shots. Perhaps that will carry over today. The key, though, for UF is to set the tone with its defense early on.
Update: Sean Samsel and Alphonso Baity have both done a good job of running the point and they have played well together when they are on the floor at the same time.
The point guard position was one of the question marks for the Oilers coming into the season but it has gradually become a strength. Not many teams have two good players at one of the most crucial positions on the floor.
Update: I am at Croy Gymnasium as the Oilers and Timberwolves get to square off. We are a little over an hour away from the opening tip of this conference game.