Photo provided by Wabash College Wabash sophomore guard Brian Shelbourne averages 2.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
Photo provided by Wabash College

Wabash sophomore guard Brian Shelbourne averages 2.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
Winners of seven straight games, Wabash College's basketball team has shut down every one of their opponents this month.

They've handled outside-minded shooters, penetrating guard tandems and athletic groups.

But their next foe will be one tall order.

At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Wabash takes on North Coast Athletic Conference rival Ohio Wesleyan - who has two players at 6-feet, 7-inches or taller.

"We know Ohio Wesleyan is big and athletic. I don't think we've played anybody with their size," said 6-foot, 3-inch junior forward Wes Smith. "They have a little young freshman as point guard. Hopefully we can use that to our advantage a little bit. Other than that, they have size."

Coming off a 77-55 win at conference foe Oberlin, the Little Giants (11-5, 6-2 NCAC) are all alone in second-place in the standings. They still trail conference leader Wooster (13-4, 8-0 NCAC) by two games.

Although Wabash sits in second place, the Little Giants have to be careful. Ohio Wesleyan (8-9, 5-3 NCAC) is one of four teams tied for third in the standings - just one game back.

And they'll need their post players to step up Wednesday night.

Senior forward Aaron Brock (6-5, 218 pounds) and junior center Ben Burkett (6-5, 219 pounds) will take on Ohio Wesleyan's inside duo of senior Brent Pleiman (6-8, 265 pounds) and freshman Marshall Morris (6-7, 215 pounds).

Pleiman and Morris are both listed as power inside players. They combine for just over 15 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Usually it's been the Little Giants with an inside advantage - with the lanky Smith driving to the basket and Brock (inside/outside) and Burkett (inside) providing the power game. Now, they'll face a team who has two big men who can stand up to their challenge.

"We need to go inside against them and getting them into foul trouble will be big for us. On the defensive end, we'll need to play big, as well, and not allow them to get easy buckets off the free-throw line," said Burkett, a 2007 Southmont High School graduate. "We need to get position on rebounds for sure. With them being big and athletic, we'll need to get a body on them."

Burkett (8.0 points and 3.9 rebounds per game) struggled earlier this month with foul trouble. He fouled out in two straight games in early January.

Since then, he's committed just eight fouls in the last four games and improved his defensive position.

"I need to keep my hands straight up and not be tempted to put my arms down and block a bunch of shots," Burkett said. "No easy looks for easy baskets [for them]."

Wabash also keeps piling up the wins as players keep fighting through injuries.

Smith (19.9 points per game) suffered a sore back and injuries to his non-shooting elbow and wrist in last Wednesday's home win over conference rival Wittenberg. This past Saturday, the Little Giants' leading scorer added another - a twisted left ankle against Oberlin - to the list.

He iced the ankle up after Monday's practice and said he'll be fine for Wednesday's game.

Junior Derek Bailey's (4.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg) status is still questionable. Bailey suffered a concussion after taking a charge during last week's win over Wittenberg. He didn't play in Saturday's game at Oberlin and players said he hasn't been cleared to play in Wednesday's game as of yet.

No matter what, Smith said they have to keep going. They haven't lost in January and have won seven straight home games this season.

"You keep pushing through," Smith said.