The Buena Vista men's basketball team begins its holiday break with a pair of games this week in the state of Illinois. The first of those comes on Monday night at Elmhurst College.
Who: Buena Vista (5-2) @ Elmhurst (5-2)
When: Monday, December 18 * 7:00pm
Where: R.A. Faganel Hall * Elmhurst, Ill.
Who: Buena Vista (5-2) @ Concordia (Ill.) (1-7)
When: Tuesday, December 19 * 7:00pm
Where: Geiseman Gymnasium * River Forest, Ill.
Inside the Series: Monday's game at Elmhurst will be the fifth meeting between the two teams all-time. Buena Vista picked up its first win over the Blue Jays last season with an 84-66 triumph on the road. This marks the third straight year the two sides have met, as #6 Elmhurst was victorious in 2015-16 inside of Siebens Fieldhouse (125-115 2 OT).
BVU has never faced Concodia University-Chicago.
Last Time Out: The Beavers ad their four-game win streak snapped on December 9 with an 84-80 home loss to UW-La Crosse. BVU led 12-0 out of the gate but the Eagles stormed back to tie things at 14-14. UW-La Crosse led by as many as 12 in the second half before BVU had a chance to tie in the final seconds but the shot was off target.
Elmhurst suffered just its second loss of the year and its first CCIW defeat as the team fell to Wheaton College on December 9 by a narrow 98-95 margin in double overtime. Jake Rhode turned in a team-high 26 points and dished out 10 assists to lead the Blue Jays.
Concordia saw its current losing streak hit five games with a tough 85-77 overtime loss at home to Edgewood College on Saturday afternoon. Mitch Pellisier scored 25 points and Jonathan Wilson 22 to lead Concordia.
Goin' Downtown: As a team, the Beavers have made 59-of-131 attempts from three-point land and currently rank fifth in all of Division III at 45 percent. UW-Stevens Point, which made 22-of-37 against BVU in the season-opener, is the national leader at 45.8 percent.
A Deep Presence: BVU has used a 10-player rotation all season long with each of those players averaging at least 12.0mpg. Nine of those 10 players are also averaging 5.0ppg or higher, including four that are at 9.9ppg or better.
About BVU: The Beavers have been off to one of its better overall starts to any season in nearly 10 years. The 5-1 start was the best since BVU went 14-1 back in 2008-09. This year's team has show a great deal of offensive efficiency and is ranked in the top-25 of the country in scoring, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and assists. David Jeffries leads a trio of players averaging double-digits in scoring with an 18.9ppg mark. The team enters the holiday break one of just three teams sitting at 2-0 during conference play (#15 Wartburg & (rv)-Neb. Wesleyan).
About Elmhurst: The Blue Jays have played four of their first seven contests at home and are 3-1 in those outings. Their first home defeat came against Wheaton College in double overtime. Jake Rhode, who led the team in scoring a year ago at better than 19.1ppg has picked up where he left off in 2016-17 by turning in 14.7ppg here in the early going of 2017-18. That is second on the team behind Jeremy Ireland's 16.4ppg. The team is shooting nearly 44 percent from the field and 32 percent from three-point range. Rhode and Derek Dotlich have combined to make 29 of the team's 45 baskets from long range. Defensively, the Blue Jays have been tough on the glass, outrebounding opponents by an average of 10 per game. The team won just eight games in 2016-17 and is coming off an eighth-place finish in the CCIW following consecutive 20-win campaigns and a pair of third-place efforts.
About Concordia: The Cougars have dropped five straight contests, including three on their home court. Three of the five have been by double-digits with the team averaging 74 points over the last four. For the year, the Cougars are scoring better than 82ppg but are being outscored by an average of 13ppg. It's shooting 45 percent overall from the field and 33 percent from downtown. Mitch Pellisier is averaging a team-leading 22.0ppg. He's shooting nearly 49 percent from the field and 39 percent from long range. Jarek Hotwagner is next at 11.4pgg while hauling in nearly 8.0rpg. The team is, however, -40.0 in turnover margin for the year. Concordia has not won 10 games in a season since 2011-12 when it finished 10-16 overall.
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Looking Ahead: Following the two games in Illinois, the Beavers will be off until December 28-29 when they play a pair of games out in La Verne, Calif. It begins with a contest against La Verne at 4:30pm (CST) on the 28th in a game being played at Life Pacific College. It then faces Caltech on the 29th at 7:00pm (CST). The team returns to IIAC play on January 3 at Nebraska Wesleyan.