Matchup:Western Washington (11-4, 5-2 GNAC) vs. Central Washington (8-7, 4-3 GNAC)
When:7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Nicholson Pavilion in Ellensburg
WWU Update:While by all normal standards the Western men's basketball team is right where it wants to be this time of the year -- within a grasp of the Great Northwest Conference lead -- the Vikings are in the midst of battling some turmoil after it was revealed redshirt freshman Joey Schreiber will be out six-to-eight weeks since suffering facial fractures against Alaska Fairbanks on Jan. 4. Schrieber had started 11 games and was averaging 12 points per game, third best on WWU's roster. Western spent the last week figuring out who now starts in Schrieber's place. Fellow redshirt freshman Jeffrey Parker got the first shot. He scored six points in what was an underwhelming performance during Western's 76-60 loss to rival Seattle Pacific on ROOT Sports, but the sharp-shooter from Bothell bounced back to scored 15 in WWU's 84-71 win against Montana State-Billings. The Vikings, who were ranked No. 19 last week, dropped out of the top 25 for the first time since Jan. 10, 2012. Western has lost four of its last seven after starting the season 8-0. Junior forward Anye Turner is coming off a big week, scoring team highs of 15 and 21 against SPU and MSUB, respectively.
Wildcats Update:Central struggled during the early portion of its schedule, but lately seems to have found its stride. The Wildcats have won four of their last five games and are coming off a two-game split in the Alaskan frozen tundra. CWU lost to Alaska Fairbanks 84-80 and beat Alaska Anchorage 95-88. Prolific scorer, senior Mark McLaughlin, reached the 1,000-point plateau and now has 1,009 points for his career. He leads the GNAC with 26.4 points per game. JB Pillard is averaging 14.4 points per game and Kevin Davis is averaging 11.8.
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Last year:Western beat Central 86-85 at Carver Gym thanks to a Paul Jones layup with 2.2 seconds left. Western also won 92-82 in Ellensburg during the teams' second matchup.
Matchup:Western Washington (11-4, 5-2 GNAC) vs. Northwest Nazarene (5-10, 3-4 GNAC)
When:6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, in Nampa, Idaho
Crusaders Update:Scoring has been a struggle all season for Northwest Nazarene. The Crusaders' 69.7 points per game ranks dead last in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, while the Vikings are averaging 87.4 points. The Crusaders are also coming off the annual Alaskan road trip, but suffered a 79-69 loss to Alaska Fairbanks and a 92-83 defeat to Alaska Anchorage. Northwest Nazarene owns a 4-5 home record and is led in scoring by Michael Loomis' 13.7 points per game and Mario Donaldson's 13.4 average. NNU's -7.1 scoring margin is the worst in the GNAC, and it's average of 10.6 3s per game ranks second in the conference.
Great Northwest Athletic Conference Standings
Check out Richard Woodworth's one-hand slam against Montana State-Billings