Back on Dec. 1, Western Illinois came to the Show Me Center and spanked Southeast Missouri State University 71-58.
The Indians would like nothing better than to return the favor tonight when the non-conference squads square off in a rematch on the Leathernecks' home court in Macomb, Ill.
Southeast is 2-8 after Saturday's 77-68 home victory over Division II Lincoln. WIU is 7-4 after Sunday's 84-79 home triumph over Youngstown State.
"We really needed to get a win and hopefully that will help our confidence as we go to Western Illinois," said Southeast coach Gary Garner.
According to junior forward Tim Scheer, who scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Saturday, the victory can't help but boost the Indians' outlook tonight.
"It should give us a lift and help our confidence," Scheer said.
The Indians will need all the confidence they can get against a WIU squad that is having an impressive bounce-back season.
Last year, the Leathernecks suffered through a dismal 5-23 campaign, which included 16 consecutive losses to start the season. But they have already posted some impressive victories this year, including a recent triumph over Hampton, an NCAA Tournament team from last season.
"They're having a really good season," Garner said. "They've beaten some good teams already. The win over Hampton was really impressive because Hampton is a very good team."
When WIU beat Southeast earlier this season, the Leathernecks burned the Indians with a powerful inside game. Although not overly tall, WIU has some extremely strong players inside and inside play has been among Southeast's major weaknesses so far.
"I remember they kicked our butts inside," said Garner. "They really hurt us with high-low stuff. Their inside game concerns me the most. They're not that tall, but they're very strong."
Shawn Mason, a powerful 6-foot-6 junior forward, did the most damage against Southeast in that earlier meeting as he scored 16 points, most of them from close to the basket. Five players were in double figures for the Leathernecks that night.
"Mason really hurt us last time," said Garner. "We're going to have to do a much better job against him and against their inside players in general."
For the season, Mason leads a balanced WIU offensive attack with 11.9 points per game. The Leathernecks' other two double-figure scorers both come off the bench in 6-7 junior forward Luis Rivas II, another strong inside player, and 6-2 senior guard Cory Fosdyck. They average 11.0 and 10.1 points, respectively.
The Leathernecks handed the Indians their second-worst loss of the season as the 13-point margin of victory is behind only a 26-point setback at St. Louis.
"We probably had one of our poorer games of the season against them and I thought they played really well," Garner said. "We're a lot better team now than we were then but I'm sure they've also gotten better."
With Ohio Valley Conference play starting Saturday at Eastern Illinois, Garner knows tonight's game is important for the Indians as they attempt to build some momentum for the OVC season.
"Things haven't gone well for us so far this season, but the conference is like a second season and we'll start that with a clean slate," said Garner. "This is a really important game for us going into the conference season."