GAME NOTES: A pair of teams that had modest two-game win streaks stopped in their last outings will to try to start anew, as the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils head to the Pacific Northwest to tangle with the Washington Huskies in non-conference action.
Mississippi Valley State dropped an 86-64 decision at Northwestern on Dec. 16 in its most recent bout, saddling the team with its seventh loss of the season, all of which have taken place away from home. Including this game, the Delta Devils have only three more non-league bouts on the schedule before kicking off Southwestern Athletic Conference play at home against Arkansas- Pine Bluff on Jan. 4.
Washington fell in its out most recent outing against nationally-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 22, 82-70, bringing the team to 6-5 on the season. This is the final tune-up for the Huskies prior to the start of Pac-12 Conference action, which for them gets underway at Arizona State on Jan. 2. UW is hoping to improve to 6-2 at home with a victory tonight.
This tilt represents the first meeting between MVSU and UW in men's basketball.
Poor defensive play has been the primary culprit in the Delta Devils' struggles this season, as the team's average yield of 87.4 ppg ranks its 341st on the 345 teams charted by the NCAA at the Division I level. Foes are shooting 52.9 percent from the field, which ranks the club 344th, and those same opponents are draining nearly 40 percent of their 3-point attempts. With regard to MVSU's offensive effort, it isn't terrible at 77.2 ppg, and the squad actually makes more treys per game than it allows (8.0 to 5.6). Anthony McDonald averages 15.3 ppg to pace the team, while DeAngelo Priar and James Currington round out the double-digit scorers with 12.6 and 10.1 ppg, respectively. In the loss to Northwestern, Currington logged a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Cameron Dobbs came off the bench to net 12 and Priar chipped in with 10, but the Delta Devils shot just 36.2 percent from the floor, despite going 7-of-17 from beyond the arc. Conversely, the Wildcats made good on 53.7 percent of their total shots, and claimed a 23-15 edge in points from the foul line.
Washington is averaging nearly the same number of points it allows (80.0 to 80.3 ppg), and the team has had very little success in keeping the opposition from gaining open looks at the basket, as they hit nearly 50 percent of their field goal attempts (.498). The Huskies are in the black in both rebounding (+2.8) and turnovers (+0.3), and they boast one of the top performers in not only the Pac-12, but the nation as well in C.J. Wilcox. A 41.7 percent shooter from long range who is virtually automatic at the free-throw line as well (49- of-56, .891), Wilcox is averaging 20.7 ppg to lead four Huskies in double figures. The other three -- Nigel Williams-Goss, Andrew Andrews and Perris Blackwell -- are netting between 12.0 and 12.3 ppg, so it's clear this is Wilcox's show most of the time. Wilcox scored 19 points, Darin Johnson added 13 and Mike Anderson had 10, but those efforts went for naught as UW squandered a double-digit lead in the first half to fall by 12 to UConn three days before Christmas. Washington, which committed 16 turnovers that UConn converted into 23 points, allowed the Huskies from back east to drain 54.9 percent of their shots in the game while the local dogs made good on 44.4 percent of theirs, missing 13 of their 18 3-point tries along the way.
The Delta Devils will surely put their best foot forward, but they are once again overmatched on the road by a team that can score in bunches.
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