Preview: Eureka Men Seeking SLIAC Win at Iowa Wesleyan

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.

MOUNT PLEASEANT, Iowa — After channeling the Golden State Warriors in a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rout over MacMurray, the Eureka men are looking to stay hot against Iowa Wesleyan on Wednesday.

The Red Devils, who are gunning for their third straight win over the Tigers, will tip off at 7:30 p.m.

ABOUT EUREKA

You may have heard: Eureka's 48-point lead over MacMurray at halftime on Sunday evening was the largest in coach Chip Wilde's 12-year tenure with the Red Devils.

The Red Devils shot 63.4 percent from the floor, 60 percent from 3-point range and 81.3 percent from the free-throw line while putting up 74 points in 20 minutes. They came back to earth and the percentages leveled off in the second half, but it showed what kind of squad they can be when everything's clicking: explosive, entertaining and difficult to slow down.

Eureka — which ranks 17th nationally in points per game — enters Wednesday's challenge 4-10 and 3-5 in the SLIAC. A victory would draw them within one of .500 before conference leader Greenville comes to town on Saturday.

The Red Devils have two of the conference's top five scorers per game. Senior Hank Thomas is currently sitting fourth at 21.4 points per game; junior Dakota Bennington is fifth at 21.2. Junior Jordan Dehm, meanwhile, has climbed to fifth in rebounds per game at 7.3, and Alex Wiegand remains the SLIAC's epitome of efficiency, shooting 69.8 percent.

On Sunday, Thomas moved up to fifth on the program's all-time 3-point field goals list with 183 career makes, surpassing Stote Reeder.

All told, Eureka feature 10 returning letterwinners and four players who started at least five games for last season's team, which went 18-8 overall and finished as the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference runner-up with a 13-5 league record. The Red Devils have nearly a dozen newcomers on the 2018-19 roster, seven of which have freshman eligibility.

ABOUT IOWA WESLEYAN

Iowa Wesleyan is coming off an abnormally high-scoring loss to Greenville that dropped the team to 4-10 and 2-5 in the SLIAC.

The Tigers outshot the conference leaders in field goal percentage – shooting 56.8 percent to Greenville's 44.2 — but they couldn't stay composed against the Panthers' high-pressure defense. The Panthers forced 48 turnovers en route to a 150-109 victory.

Jarryd Fernandes dropped a career-high 25 points and gathered 18 rebounds for the Tigers. But the 6-foot-4 sophomore is generally known for his efficiency, averaging 10.6 points per game on 58.5 percent shooting and pulling down 7.1 boards per game.

Austin Rebel is the SLIAC's leading rebounder with a 10.6 per game average and 149 total. A 6-foot-7 forward, Rebel is also the team's leading scorer at 13.2 points per game. Junior guard Jake Neubauer adds 10.1 points per game.

As a team, the Tigers average 18.6 points per game fewer than the Red Devils.

RECENT HISTORY

Eureka maintains a 24-14 all-time record against Iowa Wesleyan dating back to 1974.

The Red Devils have dominated this series at home, winning 17 of 20 matchups at the Reagan Athletic Complex, but Iowa Wesleyan has compiled an 11-7 record at Mount Pleasant.

Two years ago, Iowa Wesleyan pulled off a season sweep. Last season, Eureka returned the favor, winning 110-101 and 93-77.

Bennington and Thomas were big factors in both victories, combining for 41 points last January and 44 last Valentine's Day.

MEET THE HEAD COACHES

The owner of nearly three decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde is in his 12th season as head coach of the Eureka College men's basketball team in 2018-19. The current campaign marks Wilde's 21st season as a collegiate basketball head coach.

Wilde has proved to be one of the most successful head coaches in the storied history of Eureka men's basketball, establishing the Red Devils as a steady presence in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference both on the court and in the classroom. Wilde entered the 2018-19 campaign with 135 wins, fourth-most in the century-long history of the program.

Alex Huisman is in his third season guiding Iowa Wesleyan. Previously an assistant at Iowa Wesleyan and Upper Iowa, Huisman played at Upper Iowa for four years and graduated in 2011.  

FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE

Iowa Wesleyan will provide a live online video broadcast of Wednesday's game. Links will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com.