Updated Wed, Feb 12, 2014 4:33 pm
Offensive dominance was on full display the last time No.15 Rio Grande (16-7, 9-3) and Campbellsville (12-10, 7-6) battled on the hardwood. The RedStorm came out on top in a double-overtime game for the ages, 132-121. The two Mid-South Conference rivals will meet again on Thursday night in the Powell Athletic Center in Kentucky.
Rio Grande climbed four spots in the Division I NAIA rankings after beating Shawnee State in its only game last week while Campbellsville sits just outside the top-25. The Tigers won 75-72 at Cumberlands and 74-68 over Georgetown last week. The wins extended Campbellsville’s winning streak to four games and five straight over MSC competition.
French and his band can feel confident heading into their much-anticipated matchup with the Tigers, having won its last two games. Junior forward Josh Reagan exploded in January, earning two MSC Player of the Week awards and led his team to a six-game winning streak. He has continued his success in February and most recently posted a team-high 35 points and nine rebounds in Rio’s 99-96 overtime win over Cumberlands on Feb. 1.
The RedStorm used a second half scoring spurt to beat rival Shawnee State 73-63 last Saturday afternoon, completing the regular season sweep of the Bears. Rio Grande will need to keep focused on Thursday in order to remain in second place in the conference and to avoid a trap-game. It seemed as though Rio was on a smooth pace to secure a win the last time the Tigers and RedStorm played. Rio led by nine at halftime but the Tigers proved that they are a tough second half team.
Rio will be faced with the tough challenge of containing reigning MSC Player of the Week Eric Gaines. The forward concluded last week averaging a double-double, and averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, while shooting 13 for 25 from the field during the week. He is second in the conference and ninth in the NAIA shooting 56.7 percent from the field this season. In the last matchup, guard Miles Rice poured in 41 points and shot 6 for 11 from behind the arc and was responsible for sending his team into overtime after sinking three free-throw shots.
Rio executed on offensive exceptionally well the last time around and will need to do carry that momentum over to the defensive side of the ball on Thursday. The last time these rivals met, 11 total players scored in double digits and both teams’ shot 45 percent from behind the arc. If the last outing is any indication for this game, MSC fans in Kentucky should brace themselves for a lengthy, high-scoring affair beginning at 8 p.m.