· The NDSU football team is going to be honored at halftime of this game. This is the most packed we might see the gym before South Dakota State shows up. Parking lot was pretty full as well about a half an hour before tip-off. Even when they aren’t playing, the football team draws a crowd.
· It has become apparent quickly that this will be a battle down low between Michael Ochereobia for WIU and Marshall Bjorklund for NDSU. Ochereobia had the first six points for WIU. He is listed at 6-8 and 260 pounds.
· WIU has always been tough defensively but they have lost a couple offensive rebounds to NDSU. I wonder if this trend will continue.
· Ochereobia for WIU with eight of his team’s 14 points so far. I’m impressed with his strength. He isn’t a fat 260, he is a built 260. If you can visualize that.
· NDSU with two blocks early on and that is something to watch as this game goes on. NDSU had 13 blocks against UNO on Thursday. Chris Kading with both blocks so far for the Bison.
· With about seven minutes to go, NDSU had a fast break chance with Taylor Braun going for a wide open dunk. He left it short, however, and appeared to have tweaked something. Maybe a knee, possibly an ankle, tough to tell. Either way, he was taken out of the game and back to the locker room after the timeout. We will see what happens.
· Braun came back onto the floor but LA left the game minutes after, holding his right side. Was unable to see what happened but he was taken to the locker room as well.
· NDSU finds themselves in a 9-1 skid as the first half closes out. The run coinciding with the Braun missed lay-up. I have seen this team go through stretches way too much for my liking but they are a veteran team and seem to handle it well.
· LA came back in and helped NDSU get back above water. WIU was in the middle of a 14-1 run. LA hit a big three to draw it within two. Braun tied it before the end of the half and NDSU went into the locker room tied at 30 despite the big run from the Leathernecks.
· NDSU’s offense really struggles when Marshall is not in. They have no faith in kicking it down low to whoever is in for him.
· NDSU did spread the ball around in the first half. Kading led the scoring with six points, while Wright, Bjorklund, LA and Felt all had five points.
· NDSU ended up with four first half blocks to WIU’s zero.
· Michael Ochereobia had 13 first half points for WIU, while Jabaria Sandifer dropped in nine. Outside of that, no offense from the rest of the roster.
· NDSU shot 2-7 from three.
· Tate Stensgaard started the second half by walking out onto the court with his warm up still on. He was in the zone.
· Ochereobia is killing it right now. Guy has 17 points for WIU. So tough to handle.
· Braun got thrown to the ground by Stensgaard at one point during the second half. Looked unhappy about the no call on the play. Look for him to take over at some point in this game.
· Braun with back-to-back twos. Molinari calls a timeout.
· Bjorklund picked up his third foul of the game and it was questionable. He hedged out the offensive player and seemed to get to the spot before the ball handler. Referee didn’t see it that way. It came late in the shot clock as well, which made it seem really bad.
· Crowd has been engaged and entertained this whole afternoon. Great college basketball atmosphere. I think they need to figure out a way to honor the football team every home game.
· Can’t say enough about Jorday Aaberg and his play this week off the bench. Huge shot in the arm for NDSU. Especially with Bjorklund in foul trouble most of this game.
· Braun has only scored eight points in this half but they have been a big eight for him.
· Leads the team in scoring with 12 at this point. Balanced scoring from NDSU.
· NDSU just too strong down the stretch. Braun on a drive and dish hit Wright for a big three that put NDSU up nine. Wright came down awkwardly on his ankle after the three. He is dealing with ankle issues. He tweaked it during Fort Wayne last week.
· WIU just not enough fire power on offense. Defensively, they are one of the best in the League but they don’t have that one guy who can help delivery offensively.
· NDSU wins this one 65-52 to move to 14-5 overall and 3-1 in League play. Western Illinois falls to 7-11 overall and 1-2 in league play.
· NDSU was 3-12 from three.
· They outscored WIU’s bench 13-0 and out rebounded WIU 37-22.
· NDSU had six blocks, giving them 19 in a two game stretch.
· Braun ended the game with 14 points, Bjorklund led NDSU with 15 points and Wright added 12.
· NDSU had 13 offensive rebounds
· WIU came in shooting 60 percent from the free throw line and they made 12-15 from the free throw stripe in this game.
· Michael Ochereobia ended the game with 18 points but only five in the second half for WIU.
· WIU shoot 8-21 in the second half.
· Braun impressed with the crowd. Felt like it was a Summit League tournament game.
· Braun said he tweaked his back on Thursday against UNO and it acted up on the missed dunk. Said he is all right.
· Braun said the benched stepped up big, not only today but all week.
· Braun said the back-to-back shots him and LA hit helped calm them down as they were going into the half against WIU.
· Braun said that if the team wants to win the conference, they cannot have any let ups. They have SDSU, USD and Denver on the road in their next three games.
· WIU assistant coach called these games between WIU and NDSU a war.
· NDSU coach Phillips said the play of Michael Ochereobia said that when he puts his back on the defender, they are gone. Like a total eclipse.
· Phillips said that he warned his team before the game that you could go four or five possessions with a bucket against this team.
· He felt that Aaberg and Kading really gave the team lift with their play, especially towards the end of the first half with Braun, LA and Bjorklund all out of the game.
· Phillips said that his bench has given them a boost lately but Carlin Dupree is a little lost right now.
· LA went to the locker room with an oblique injury. That happened in the game before. He didn’t practice much on Friday between games.
· NDSU now has a week off before they travel down to Brookings, S.D. to take on SDSU on January 25.
You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.