This week's SLIAC Game of the Week is a pivotal game in the SLIAC men's basketball standings when MacMurray College travels to Spalding University in a battle for first place.
Saturday's men's basketball contest between MacMurray and Spalding pits the hottest team in the league and current first place team, MacMurray, on the road against Spalding, who before last week held first place for the majority of the season. MacMurray is currently 9-2 in the conference while Spalding is 11-3 in the SLIAC. Game time on Saturday is set for 3 p.m. EST in Louisville, Ky.
MacMurray is on an eight game winning streak, the longest active streak in the SLIAC, and will face Eureka on Wednesday night before heading down to Louisville. After opening the season 1-9, MacMurray went undefeated in the month of January and moved into first place in the SLIAC standings last week. The Highlanders defeated their opponents by an average of 11.3 points per game during the month. They picked up a 91-65 win over Webster last Saturday in their previous outing.
MacMurray is currently averaging 81.2 points per game during conference play, tops in the SLIAC, and shooting 45.6 percent from the field as a team. The Highlanders hold a +6.5 rebounding edge over their opponents and have averaged 5.8 made three's per game. Clayton Whitlock, a senior forward, is the team's go to player, averaging 16.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 67.7 percent from the field. Junior forward Deavis Johnson, a mid-season transfer, has given the Highlanders added athleticism and is averaging 11.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Senior Dylan Guthrie and junior Kollin Keltner have combined to knock down 69 three pointers this season.
Spalding has dropped two straight games, slipping into second place in the standings. The Golden Eagles lost both games last week as their big man in the middle Renaldo Moore was out with an illness. Prior to the back to back losses Spalding had won nine consecutive games. The Golden Eagles are coming off a 62-56 road loss to Fontbonne on Saturday.
Spalding is averaging 65.6 points per game this season but are allowing the conference's fewest points per game on defense, just 62.3 points per game. The Golden Eagles are shooting 43.2 percent from the field and average 5.0 three's per game. Junior guard Brandon Goeing leads the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game and has knocked down 54 three-pointers this season, tops in the league. Brandon Gabriel, a senior guard, is averaging 14.4 points per game while senior forward Renaldo Moore is averaging 9.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.
- Spalding leads the all-time series 8-3 over MacMurray.
- Spalding defeated MacMurray 61-59 in this season's earlier meeting. Spalding's Brandon Goeing led all scorers with 30 points while MacMurray was held to just 38.5 percent shooting as a team.
- MacMurray has a chance to tie Spalding's mark for longest winning streak this season at nine games.
- This marks the second time this season Spalding has dropped back to back games. The last time they lost two in a row, they rolled off nine straight wins.
- MacMurray's Clayton Whitlock leads the conference in scoring and field goal percentage.
- There are just three more weekends remaining in the regular season. The top four teams make the SLIAC Tournament. Currently those in position for the postseason are MacMurray, Spalding, Greenville, and Webster.