Jacksonville State (15-9) at Eastern Kentucky (20-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ellis T. Johnson Arena (6,500) -- Richmond, Kentucky. Television: OVC Digital Network. Home Record: JSU 8-3, EKU 13-1. Away Record: JSU 5-6, EKU 7-5. Neutral Record: JSU 2-0, EKU 0-0. Conference Record: JSU 7-6, EKU 9-3. Series Record: Eastern Kentucky leads, 12-7.
GAME NOTES: The Jacksonville State Gamecocks will be seeking revenge as they close out their three-game road trip with a visit to Ellis T. Johnson Arena for an Ohio Valley Conference tussle with the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
EKU extended its all-time series lead versus JSU to 12-7 earlier this season with a 73-62 victory over the Gamecocks. Corey Walden pumped in a career-high 28 points, while Mike DiNunno tallied 24 for EKU, which shot 51 percent from the floor and limited the Gamecocks to 31 percent field goal efficiency. Tarvin Gaines stood out for JSU in the contest by posting a double-double of 17 points and 11 boards.
JSU was in great position to make run at the East Division peak before it suffered back-to-back losses at Tennessee Tech (78-64) and Morehead State (85-81) in the first two installments of its road trip. The pair of setbacks lowered the Gamecocks to a 15-9 overall record and a 7-6 mark in OVC action. Gaines paces the team with 15.7 ppg on 46.7 percent shooting from the floor, but he is actively joined in double-figures scoring by Brian Williams (13.0 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Ronnie Boggs (11.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg).
The Gamecocks were not able to survive their trip to Morehead State despite a scoring outburst of 31 points by Gaines. JSU shot a red-hot 59.1 percent from the field including 9-of-15 from beyond the arc while also sinking 20-of-22 at the free-throw line. However, the Eagles attempted eight more shots and drained 53.8 percent of their field goal tries to earn the four-point decision. Williams and Rico Sanders chipped in 15 points apiece in the losing effort, which was partially due to JSU's 19 turnovers.
EKU comes in on a four-game winning streak after it took down Tennessee Tech, 80-69 on Thursday in the first game of its current three-game homestand. The Colonels' recent hot streak has earned them a 20-6 overall record that includes a 9-3 mark in the OVC standings. They trail Belmont by 1.5 games for first place in the East Division standings with three league games left after Saturday. Mike DiNunno has been excellent in his first season as a Colonel since transferring from Northern Illinois. The 5-foot-11 senior guard is leading the pack with 15.8 points and 4.2 assists per tilt.
In their victory over the Golden Eagles, DiNunno tallied 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field to pace the group. Glenn Cosey chipped in 17 points for EKU while Eric Stutz and Tarius Johnson finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively. EKU was tremendous on the defensive end in the opening stanza, limiting TTU to 3-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc, but it struggled on the offensive end which sent it into halftime trailing by three points. The Colonels then dominated the second half by shooting 57.1 percent from the field and 5-of-10 from behind the arc to make it the second consecutive contest they heated up after the break. The tough play on both ends of the court this season has given the team the second-best scoring offense (73.3) and third best scoring defense (64.0) in the OVC.
EKU was projected to be one of the bottom teams in the OVC this season. It has certainly exceeded expectations to this point, but it will not have an easy night against the Gamecocks. JSU is capable of winning this one if it can get solid production from someone other than Gaines.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Kentucky 71, Jacksonville State 64
02/16 10:36:19 ET
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