By BRIAN LESTER
The Matchup: University of Findlay vs. Malone University at Osborne Hall in Canton. Game time set for 1 p.m.
Records: Oilers are 18-6 overall and 15-5 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Pioneers are 13-11 overall and 10-10 in the GLIAC.
Series: UF leads 29-12.
Last Time Out: Greg Kahlig lit up the scoreboard for a career-high 38 points and helped the Oilers clinch a share of the South Division title with an 83-67 win over Walsh University on Thursday night at Croy Gymnasium.
Brad Piehl dropped in 11 points and Jake Heagen added 10 as UF won its fifth consecutive game. The Oilers shot 46.6 percent from the field and made 10 treys, including five by Kahlig.
UF scored 18 points off turnovers and held a 34-28 advantage on the boards.
MU defeated Hillsdale College 61-59 on the road Thursday. Cory Veldhuizen scored 24 points while Che Richardson finished with 12 points. Zach Bates added 11 points.
The Pioneers shot 45.5 percent from the field in a game that featured 15 lead changes as they won their second consecutive game.
Scouting the Opponent: The Pioneers are averaging 72.8 points per outing and allowing 71.3. They are shooting 44 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from beyond the arc.
MU is allowing opponents to shoot 43.6 percent from the floor and 35.8 percent from 3-point range.
The Pioneers grab an average of 35.3 rebounds per game and give up 37.1 boards per outing. They average 12.8 turnovers per game and force 13.0.
Senior guard Isiah Elliott has been out the last five games but was averaging 19.2 points per outing before the injury. The Pioneers are 2-3 without him.
Veldhuizen, a junior forward, is clicking for 11.3 ppg and grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game. Richardson, a junior guard, is averaging 8.7 ppg and has made 17 treys. He has also tallied 37 steals.
Freshman guard Christiant Graves is pumping in 8.3 ppg and has hit 57 treys. He has racked up 25 steals. Senior forward Zach Bates is averaging 7.8 ppg and pulling down 4.1 rebounds per game.
MU has scored 70 or more 13 times and has given up 70 or more 13 times.
One to Watch: I’m looking forward to seeing how Greg Kahlig does coming off the best game of his career.
Kahlig dropped 38 on Walsh and has been on a roll over the last 13 games, scoring in double figures each time during the stretch.
The junior forward is averaging 17 points per game and grabbing 4.9 rebounds per outing. He has scored in double figures 20 times and has scored 20 or more five times and 30 or more three times during his sizzling scoring stretch.
Kahlig has to play at a high level for the Oilers to thrive, not only on offense, but on the defensive end of the floor.
The thing about Kahlig is that he does the other things you need to do to be successful, such as rebound and play hard on defense.
I don’t expect Kahlig to go off for 38 again, but if he can come through with another double-digit performance, the Oilers are going to be fine.
Around the GLIAC: Ashland at Tiffin; Hillsdale at Walsh; Saginaw Valley State at Ferris State; Ohio Dominican at Lake Erie College; Lake Superior State at Michigan Tech; Wayne State at Grand Valley State; Northwood at Northern Michigan. Check out the GLIAC Basketball Page for more information.
Around the Midwest Region: The Oilers are 10th in the first NCAA regional poll but could move into the top eight with a win over MU today. I do think the Oilers should be in the top eight to begin with because No. 9 Kentucky Wesleyan has struggled since 13-0 start, dropping six of eight, and No. 8 Lewis has eight losses on the season.
But in the end, if the Oilers take care of their business the rest of the way, they will be in the NCAA tournament.
You can check out all of the regional rankings right here.
Well, the Oilers can nail down an outright South Division championship today with a win over the Pioneers and potentially move into a tie for first place in the overall conference standings if Wayne State were to fall on the road against Grand Valley State.
The Oilers are also vying for a shot at the NCAA tournament, and a win today should move them up in the rankings.
This is the final time UF is playing on the road and the key for the Oilers is to set the tone with their defense. They did a tremendous job of that on Thursday night against Walsh, jumping in front 25-6 by scoring easy baskets off turnovers.
UF has been a solid defensive team all season, but lately, it has taken that defensive effort to another level, disrupting the flow of an opponent’s offense and building confidence on offense as a result of their defensive effort.
Offensively, the Oilers just need to continue to run their offense and work for the best shot possible. They are capable of shooting well from beyond the arc, but attacking the basket and getting to the line works just as well.
Considering how well the Oilers have shot free throws lately, hitting 85 percent of their shots in the last five games, getting to the line will be important.
With leading scorer Isiah Elliott hurt, the Oilers have to put their attention on Cory Veldhuizen. If they can limit his impact on the game and defend the 3-point line as well as they have this season, they will be in a position to get out of town with a win and a division title.
Check back in a bit for updates on here and you can follow me on Twitter @BLester1993. Enjoy the game everyone.
Update: Oilers fall 77-69 and will have to win next Saturday against Hillsdale to clinch outright South Division title.
Update: A-Rob clutch 3-pointer and Oilers down 71-69 with 55 seconds left.
Update: Oilers have to find way to rattle confidence of Pioneers. They have battle back behind two treys by Greg Kahlig and good defensive pressure but need to keep it up as they are down 57-52 with nine minutes left in the second half of action.
Update: Oilers down 53-46 with 11:34 to go in second half. UF has started to shoot a little better but needs to step it up on defense. It can’t allow Pioneers to answer when it scores.
Update: Seems like every shot the Pioneers have taken has gone in. Oilers gave up eight treys in a half. They have only given up eight or more treys in a game only three times this year. If Oilers are going to get back into this game, they need to set tone on both ends of floor in first five minutes of second half.
Update: Oilers down 26-18 with 4:57 to go in opening half. UF is doing a good job of getting to the line but needs to start making shots from the field and take away the 3-point shots of the Pioneers. Strong finish to half key for UF.
Update: Oilers down 21-12 as they have struggled to get shots to fall from the outside and in the paint. They need someone to step up at this point and get going. They can’t afford to let MU build momentum.
Update: Oilers down 13-9 with 13:15 to play in opening half. UF has played hard on defense but hasn’t been able to come up with turnovers that they can turn into points. The shots not falling early but Oilers can change that by attacking more in the paint.
Update: It’s game time for the Oilers here at Osborne Hall as they get ready for their battle with the Pioneers.
Update: Oilers need to set the tone with their defense and make Malone feel like it has no idea what it it. If UF can jump on top of the Pioneers early, it will set the table for another win.
Update: If we were in Croy right now, music would be blaring as the teams warmed up for the start of the game. It is so quiet in this gym. Doesn’t feel like a basketball game at all.
Update: I am inside Osborne Hall as the Oilers get set to battle the Pioneers. We are about 20 minutes away from tip-off.