This time the Panthers may be without guard Des Balentine after he suffered a dislocated kneecap in the Panthers 57-56 win over West Lafayette in Wednesday’s sectional opening round. He has an MRI scheduled for today and isn’t expected to play.
Western is looking for its 11th straight win over Northwestern.
“It’s going to be difficult dealing with Northwestern for a third time,” Western coach Bart Miller said. “They are so deep, they go 10, 11, 12 players deep. You’ve got to prepare for each one of those players. Each and every one of those players is capable of scoring.
“Defensively they are just relentless. They pressure the ball, pressure you for all 32 minutes and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to take care of the ball and defend.”
Northwestern was able to rebound from a sluggish start and knock off Peru 66-62 in its sectional opener Wednesday, trailing by 11 early in the third quarter before erupting for 52 second-half points.
“I thought the resilience we showed was very impressive, even from a coach’s standpoint because there were multiple times where … we could’ve folded in the first half and the start of the second half,” Northwestern coach Jim Gish said. “We battled back, and it took a lot of will from the kids.”
The absence of Balentine doesn’t change the Tigers’ gameplan much. If anything, it gives the squad more to worry about in Gish’s eyes.
“It’s important for us to understand that someone for them is going to assume a bigger role than what they’ve had,” he said. “It’s important that we recognize that early, because if we don’t, someone is going to step up and fill in those areas [where] Des was for their team. If we don’t recognize that early, it’ll be too late, because they have very good other role players that will step in.”