Updated Fri, Feb 21, 2014 6:03 pm
The best team in the Mid-South Conference hits the road to take on a struggling Rio Grande squad (16-10, 9-6) that has dropped its last three games. The No. 2 Pikeville Bears (24-2, 14-1) are set to attack the No.19 RedStorm on Saturday afternoon at Newt Oliver Arena.
Rio Grande entered its first matchup against Pikeville with a six-game winning streak and its first top-25 national ranking since it was slotted at No. 17 on Jan. 19, 2009. This ranking came back when Rio was still in Division II of the NAIA and a member of the America Mideast Conference.
The second win of Pikeville’s current 10-game winning streak came in its 96-78 rout over the RedStorm back on Jan. 23 when the two MSC foes were battling for first place in league standings.
Nearly a month later, Pikeville remains at the top of the conference while Rio Grande has fallen to fourth place. The RedStorm have gone 3-4 since their blowout loss to Pikeville and are in danger of slipping into obscurity with another slip up to the Bears.
Pikeville has not lost a game in over a month and its 69-56 win on Thursday night over Shawnee State University earned the team its 10th straight victory. The impressive winning streak dates back to Jan. 18 as the Bears have outscored MSC opponents 870-744 through their past 10 games.
Pikeville boasts a margin of victory of nearly 21 points, which ranks first in Division I. Leading the way for the Bears in scoring is Bruce Reed who is averaging just over 18 points a game.
The Bears rank in the top-10 in nine other categories including second in offensive rebounds a game and fourth in scoring offense with 91.6 points.
Eight times this year Pikeville has scored 100 or more points and it nearly eclipsed that mark in its first game against the RedStorm.
Home court will favor the RedStorm this time around as they are 10-5 at home with two of these coming against nationally ranked teams. A home victory is not out of the question for Rio as the Bears two losses of the year have come on the road.
Only three games remain for Rio Grande before the MSC Tournament. A win over the second best team in the NAIA will give the RedStorm the confidence they need to remind opponents how hard it is to weather the RedStorm.