SIU-Edwardsville (7-15) at Eastern Illinois (11-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 15th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lantz Arena (5,300) -- Charleston, Illinois. Television: WEIU TV. Home Record: SIUE 6-6, EIU 6-6. Away Record: SIUE 1-7, EIU 5-9. Neutral Record: SIUE 0-2, EIU 0-0. Conference Record: SIUE 5-8, EIU 4-9. Series Record: Eastern Illinois leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: The Eastern Illinois Panthers take aim at their third straight win tonight, as they welcome the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars to Lantz Arena in Charleston for an Ohio Valley Conference clash.
SIUE's seven wins overall are the second-least in the OVC and though it has fared slightly better in conference play, it still sports just a 5-8 mark and is currently ninth in the standings. The Cougars had lost a season-high six straight games before winning back-to-back bouts versus Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky. They had an opportunity to earn their first three-game win streak of the year against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, but fell short in an 85-72 final.
Eastern Illinois' season has been marred by a slew of streaks, having won three games in a row on three different occasions but having also experienced both a four-game and an eight-game slide en route to a 11-14 record overall and a 4-9 mark in OVC play. The Panthers are coming off back-to-back wins in the state of Tennessee however, with their latest triumph coming over UT- Martin on Saturday, 74-71.
Eastern Illinois leads the all-time series with SIUE, 3-1, and the Panthers claimed a 73-59 victory on January 4 in the first matchup between the squads since 1983.
SIUE has accumulated the second-worst scoring margin in the OVC (-6.6) by sporting both an offense (65.5 ppg) and a defense (72.0 ppg) ranked in the bottom-third of the conference. While the offense for the Cougars has stepped things up of late by scoring 72 points or more in three of the last four games, the defense has continued to disappoint, giving up 74, 85 and 98 points over that same span. Though the Cougars dropped a 72 spot on SEMO over the weekend, they shot just 40 percent from the floor and allowed the Redhawks to connect on 53.4 percent of their total shots. Kris Davis shined in defeat, draining four three-pointers en route to 20 points and he now averages 12 ppg and ranks first in the nation in three-point percentage (46-of-76, .605). Mark Yelovich (14.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Jerome James (13.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg) pace the Cougars and provide a solid presence in the paint, though SIUE still ranks last in the OVC in rebounding margin (-4.3).
Eastern Illinois has performed worse than its stats would lead you to believe this season, as it ranks sixth out of 11 OVC teams in both scoring offense (65.5 ppg) and scoring defense (67.6 ppg). The offense has stepped up its game of late, producing 74 points in back-to-back bouts after tallying less than 60 points in six of its previous seven. The Panthers shot impressively against UT-Martin from the floor (.489), three-point range (5-of-11) and the foul line (25-of-33), and were paced by a career-high 28 points from freshman Joey Miller. Jeremy Granger has been one of the league's best scorers this year, ranking sixth in points (15.1 ppg) while shooting a respectable 44.7 percent from the field. Miller (10.8 ppg) and Alfonzo McKinnie (10.3 ppg) round out the Panthers' double-digit scorers, with McKinnie also leading the team in rebounding at 7.1 rpg. EIU has the ability to ice games down the stretch with a league-best free-throw percentage of .753.
Though SIUE may be ahead in the standings, EIU is playing much better of late and should continue its hot streak in front of its home fans against a struggling Cougar squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Illinois 72, SIU-Edwardsville 63
02/15 10:52:19 ET