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Western Illinois vs. Oregon St. CBI Game Thread

Benny is looking forward to some post-season March Madness hoops action this week, even if it is the CBI. <em>(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)</em>
Benny is looking forward to some post-season March Madness hoops action this week, even if it is the CBI. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Western Illinois (18-14, 9-9) vs. Oregon St. (19-14, 7-11) at Gill Coliseum in the First Round of the CBI Tournament at 7 PM PDT / HD Net / KEJO 1240 AM / KPAM 860 AM (Streamed)

The Beavers host the Western Illinois Leathernecks, who finished fourth in the Summit League in the first round of the CBI Tournament.

It's the first post conference tournament action for the Leathernecks in the 30 years they have been a Division I program, while its the third appearance in 4 years in the CBI for the Beavers, who won the tournament in 2009, and participated in 1 game in 2010.

"I'm extremely excited to still be playing, and it's exciting to be playing with a good field of teams," Oregon St. head coach Craig Robinson said. "When you're playing as well as we've been playing at the end of the year, you want to keep playing. Not only for your one senior who is graduating, but for your team that is coming back to start the preparation process for next year."

Western Illinois had won 4 straight, including knocking regular season Summit League champion Oral Roberts out of both the Summit League tournament and the NCAAs with a 54-53 win, before falling 52-50 in overtime to South Dakota St. in the Summit Tournament Championship game, with a ticket to the NCAA tournament at stake.

The Jackrabbits (Pac-12 fans will recall SD St. for their upset of Pac-12 regular season champion Washington) had taken the lead on a 3 pointer with a minute and a half left in overtime, and then the Leathernecks turned the ball over. But so did the Jackrabbits, and Western Illinois got what they were looking for, as guard Tommy Tyler, the game's leading scorer with 19 points, took the last shot. It missed though, and the Jackrabbits hopped off to the NCAA Tournament, while the Leathernecks caught a flight for Portland.

The Leathernecks' mascot, by the way, is a bulldog. With a nasty collar.

Tonight's winner will face TCU (18-14, 7-7 in the Mt. West Conference) on Monday. The Horned Frogs used a balanced effort, with 6 players in double figures between 10 and 15 points, to beat Milwaukee 83-73 last night in Ft. Worth.

Looking at the Leathernecks

Besides Tyler, a 6'3" senior guard, Western Illinois looks primarily to Tyler's back-court running mate Ceola Clark III, a 6'3" senior guard who leads the Leathernecks in both scoring and assists. Clark shoots .452 from the field, but .461 from 3 point range, and averages 13.4 points per game, and 4.7 assists.

Western Illinois is essentially a 5 man team, with no reserve seeing more than 8 minutes in any given game during the Summit Tournament.

Other starters include Terell Parks, a 6'7" junior, who averages 12.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, Jack Houpt, a 6'7" junior, and Obi Emegano, a 6'3" freshman.

The Beavers, who are enjoying what will be only their second winning season in 22 years, had won 4 straight games before running out of gas in the third round of the Pac-12 Tournament, losing a 7 point halftime lead, and eventually the game, to Arizona, 72-61, despite a 19 point effort off the bench by Roberto Nelson.

The disappointment came just a day after Oregon St.'s 86-84 upset of Washington, behind double digit scoring from 5 different Beavers.

On paper, Oregon St.'s size advantage in their front court and greater depth should give them the advantage in this one, but both teams have quite a pent up appetite for post season success. Western Illinois will strive to play a slower pace than Oregon St. would prefer, so the Beavers will need to shoot well, which means making sure their shot selection is good.

"Getting behind by 5 points in this game will be like getting behind by 10 in most games," Robinson noted. "The importance of every possession will be magnified."

Access to television for this one will be limited, as HD Net is not widely distributed by carriers in this region.

HDNet is available in the Corvallis area on Comcast/Xfinity channel 798, and on satellite providers DirecTV channel 306 and Dish Network channel 362. However, these are not included in many people's programming packages, even if part or all of their equipment is HD capable.

In the interest of full disclosure, its worth remembering that Robinson's agent is Rick Giles, who is also owner, president, and founder of the Gazelle Group, which runs the CBI Tournament. Robinson has known and worked with Giles since they were both at Princeton.

Here's the place to discuss Oregon St.'s return to the post season, and assess the Beavers' season.

Go Beavs!