GAME NOTES: The Eastern Kentucky Colonels attempt to rebound from their first Ohio Valley Conference loss of the season, as they take on the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
EKU owns an 11-7 all-time series lead over JSU after its 59-53 victory in the last meeting on Dec. 17, 2011. The Gamecocks are 7-3 against the Colonels on their own court.
The Colonels got off to a 4-0 start in OVC play, but they were unable to keep it going on Thursday as they dropped an 83-76 decision at Belmont. The setback pins EKU with a 14-4 overall record, including its 4-4 mark on the road. Coach Jeff Neubauer's squad has shown a balanced effort as it ranks third in the conference in both scoring offense (71.8 ppg) and scoring defense (64.4 ppg). Senior guard Mike DiNunno and junior guard Glenn Cosey are tied for the team lead with 15.0 ppg apiece, but Cosey has not played in three games due to a broken finger and he is listed as doubtful for this contest.
The Colonels were not shy from distance in their bout with Belmont, but going 12-of-36 from 3-point range ended up costing them too many possessions. They allowed the Bruins to shoot 51.9 percent from the field, but also goaded them in 21 turnovers. DiNunno led the EKU attack with 24 points, while Orlando Williams chimed in with 10 points off the pine. Sophomore Timmy Knipp provided a career-high 13 points to go along with three rebounds in the loss, which was the first EKU experienced when scoring 70 or more points.
The Gamecocks have a shot in this one due to their stifling defense which limits their foes to 60.7 ppg in OVC action. JSU fell to 4-3 in league play on Thursday when it was defeated, 66-60, by Tennessee State. Coach James Green's unit has four players who own double-digit scoring averages, with Darion Rackley sitting at the head of the class with his 14.0 ppg. Tarvin Gaines (13.8 ppg), Brian Williams (11.6 ppg, 3.8 apg) and Ronnie Boggs (11.0, 5.7 rpg) are all just as vital to the team's success.
JSU played well enough to defeat Tennessee State, but it converted only 10- of-20 at the charity stripe and fell by six points. Boggs paced the team with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. Gaines chipped in 14 points and Williams tallied 10 points with four assists. The Gamecocks did a solid job of controlling the ball, committing just nine turnovers.
The Colonels have attempted more 3-pointers than any other team in the conference. Unfortunately for EKU, the Gamecocks lead the OVC in 3-point field goal percentage defense with only 65 allowed makes on 234 tries (.278). EKU will need to establish an interior presence at the offensive end or it could drop its second straight game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jacksonville State 68, Eastern Kentucky 65
01/19 10:37:40 ET
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