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Eastern Illinois (7-17) at Southeast Missouri State (12-13)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 9, 6:30 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Show Me Center (6,972) -- Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Television: None. Home Record: EIU 3-7. SEMO 8-4. Away Record: EIU 3-10, SEMO 3-7. Neutral Record: EIU 2-0, SEMO 1-2. Conference Record: EIU 4-7, SEMO 4-7. Series Record: EIU leads, 23-20.

GAMES NOTES: The suddenly hot Eastern Illinois Panthers will look to keep an upward trend going when they take on the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks in Ohio Valley Conference action at the Show Me Center on Saturday.

In the second contest of the current three-game road trip they are on, the Panthers rolled over Tennessee-Martin, 93-65, to earn their fourth win in the last five games. Before that stretch the Panthers, who are just 7-17 overall, had lost 12 straight games. Eastern Illinois' recent winning ways have allowed it to climb back into the middle of the pack in the OVC standings where it now sits in eighth place at 4-7. The Panthers will begin a three-game homestand next Thursday against Austin Peay.

As for Southeast Missouri State, it put an end to a three-game losing streak on Thursday with a 76-67 win over SIU Edwardsville in the second of a three- game homestand. The Redhawks are now a game under .500 overall (12-13) while tied with Eastern Illinois for the eighth spot in the OVC standings at 4-7. SEMO has managed a solid 8-4 mark at the Show Me Center this season, Next on the docket though is a trip to face Tennessee-Martin.

In the first matchup between these teams this season Eastern Illinois came away with a 78-72 victory. That win ended a four-game winning streak for SEMO in the all-time series, which the Panthers lead, 23-20.

En route to its largest point total of the season, Eastern Illinois hit an incredible 65.2 percent of its shots from the floor, including a 12-of-19 effort from beyond the arc to coast by Tennessee-Martin. The Panthers assisted on 23 of their 30 field goals and had five players in double figures.

Offensive firepower has been lacking for Eastern Illinois for the most part. The Panthers are the lowest scoring team in the OVC (59.6 ppg), while shooting at a mediocre 43.2 percent from the floor. The Panthers have also struggled on the glass where they rank 11th in the league (29.3 ppg. Sherman Blanford (10.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Josh Piper (10.2 ppg) are the double-figure scorers on the team and two of only four contributors putting in more than six points a game. Austin Akers (5.4 ppg, 4.1 apg) hasn't scored particularly well but is within the top 10 in the conference in assists.

Marland Smith had a historic outing against SIU Edwardsville for SEMO. The senior guard buried three 3-pointers in the contest to take control of the all-time record for 3-pointers by a Redhawk with 220. Nino Johnson was also solid in the contest recording 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks.

The efforts of Johnson and Smith made up for a lackluster performance from leading scorer Tyler Stone (16.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg) who had 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Though it was a slow night by his standards, Stone is still among the top 10 scorers in the OVC. Johnson (11.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.3 bpg) has teamed in the frontcourt with Stone creating a formidable duo in the paint. The two rank second and third in the conference in rebounding, while Johnson fits in as the league's second-best shot blocker. Corey Wilford (14.5 ppg) is the top option in the backcourt where Lucas Nutt (5.6 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Smith (8.0 ppg) are also solid contributors. In all SEMO is the fourth-highest scoring team in the OVC (71.5 ppg) as well as its second-best rebounding squad (37.2 rpg).

With the duo of Johnson and Stone inside the Redhawks should be able to beat up on the Panthers in the paint and secure a much needed win.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SE Missouri State 72, Eastern Illinois 65

02/09 10:32:52 ET