Defense the key for YSU against Wright State

KEITH GUNTHER is bound to be there, surround by his Ursuline boys basketball team, looking at the action on the Beeghly Center floor.

All eyes are on Mark Hughes, the Wright State University senior guard.

Hughes and his Raiders have that same green and white color scheme as Ursuline, so the rooting interest is there either way.

The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team hasn’t beat Wright State at Beeghly Center since 2014. It must be the Hughes factor since his Raiders haven’t lost in his hometown since he’s played for the defending Horizon League Tournament champion.

“Mark is a guy that has a great basketball understanding, knows how to play, not only on one side of the floor,” YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun said. “He’s really good offensively. He’s really good defensively. He’s got size. He’s got length. He’s got timely shots.”

Why watch this game?

YSU (6-13, 2-4 Horizon League) needs a home victory over a team not in NCAA Division III to establish itself as a team to beat in this league.

Wright State (8-10, 2-3) desires the same thing, but are 1-5 away from the Nutter Center near Dayton.

The Penguins hope they are the force to be reckoned with tonight, starting at 7 p.m.

The Raiders are back in Youngstown on Friday as the women’s basketball team hosts Wright State Friday at 7 p.m., in the battle of the best two teams in this conference.

Yes Green Bay, you have a better conference record, but not overall mark.

This defensive-minded YSU team has to bounce back from a two-game swing in Wisconsin where there wasn’t sightseeing at Lambeau Field or buying assorted cheeses. It ended in losses at Milwaukee and Green Bay.

This is a seasoned YSU team where hiccups like this won’t trickle into play this weekend. It cannot against a high-powered offense like Wright State.

Defend. Defend. Defend. There’s a reason this Penguin team is the best in the Horizon League when it comes to defense: coach John Barnes. His teams have been holding teams in the 50s for most of the seasons he’s been here.

This team is 12-5 and 4-2, while Wright State is 13-4 and 5-0. For Friday night, this matchup cannot get any better and go a long ways to defending home court for this YSU team. There’s nothing more the Penguins want than to host a first-round tournament game in early March.

YSU must be confident. It has every reason to be. This veteran team can be the best in this league. It is not just a Wright State-Green Bay league. The Penguins need to be in the conversation. A win Friday goes a long way to putting YSU right there.

Both teams desire that sixth person in the stands, filling these young men and women with some energy against two very good Wright State teams.

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