Feb. 10, 2012
Bearcats look for sixth straight vs. Griffons
By David Boyce
From a purely statistical perspective, Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball game Saturday against Missouri Western could be considered a slam-dunk victory before the first player steps onto Bearcat Arena.
At 18-3 overall, the Bearcats are in sole possession of first place in the MIAA with a 12-3 mark. In addition, Northwest has won five straight games, including its last three on the road.
The Bearcats are hot.
Meanwhile, Western, 7-14 overall, is 2-13 and in last place in the MIAA. Western has lost three in a row and nine of its last 10.
The Griffons are not hot.
However, statistical comparison and logic should never be used when these two teams play. It’s a rivalry game and anything can happen in them.
Western played one of its best games on Jan. 4 in St. Joseph. Although the Bearcats wound up winning 64-53, it wasn’t until the final minute before Northwest could chalk up a win.
Western is in the role of spoiler for the rest of the season. The Griffons would love to be the team to prevent Northwest from winning the regular season MIAA title.
The good news for Northwest fans is the Bearcats understand all angles of every game they play. They know they have to be ready no matter who they play.
“We have to come out focused, knowing we have to take care of business,” Northwest junior Justin Clark said. “Even if they are having a rough season, we have to focus on getting another victory.
“We have to work hard and that’s what we plan on doing. We can’t be content with how many wins we have so far. We got to keep playing hard.
“We got to approach this like any other game. We can’t fall into the hype of it being a rival.”
All season the Bearcats have paid attention to the game they are playing. They haven’t talked about winning the regular-season title, making the MIAA Tournament or anything else that is a month or so down the road.
It is really remarkable when you consider the team hasn’t made the conference tournament the last three years. Now, they are poised to go in as a No. 1 seed.
But the only way they stay in the driver’s seat for the top seed is if they continue to treat times like Western as a team capable of beating them.
“I’m pretty excited about this game,” Northwest sophomore Matt Wallace said. “It should be a pretty big crowd. It will be a good ball game. They are going to come ready to play and so are we.”
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