Eastern Illinois (3-4) at Western Illinois (2-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 4, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Western Hall (5,139) -- Macomb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: EIU 2-1, WIU 2-0. Away Record: EIU 1-3, WIU 0-4. Neutral Record: EIU 0-0, WIU 0-0. Conference Record: EIU 0-0, WIU 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 78-78.
GAME NOTES: A pair of in-state combatants square off on Wednesday night, as the Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks play host to the Eastern Illinois Panthers at Western Hall.
The Panthers have lost three of their last four games, including a 68-53 setback at Western Kentucky this past Saturday. They only trailed by four at halftime, but allowed WKU to make 66.7 percent of their shots after the break. They were also done in by 14 turnovers.
Reggie Smith was the only EIU player in double figures with 16 points, upping his team-best scoring average to 14.7 ppg. Alex Austin is second on the team with 10.1 ppg thanks to connecting on 12-of-30 attempts from behind the arc.
Eastern Illinois, which has shot a solid 51 percent from the field in their last three games, does not have a single player who has started every game this season, and the club has had trouble protecting the glass thus far, getting outrebounded by 4.4 rpg on average.
The only trouble for the Leathernecks has been winning on the road, where they are 0-4 on the young season. They improved to 2-0 at home, however, with Saturday's 76-49 wire-to-wire victory over Greenville thanks to a 16-point, six-rebound effort from reserve Adam Link.
Western Illinois plays at a slower pace than most teams, which gets noticed as the club averages just 61.5 ppg despite shooting a respectable 46.9 percent from the floor. The Leathernecks do their damage at the defensive end, holding foes to 42.1 percent shooting while forcing more turnovers than they're guilty of. They must improve upon their dismal .542 free throw percentage, though, in order to win close games.
Only Garret Covington is scoring in double digits, putting in 14.4 ppg, and Link sits second at 9.3 while leading the team in assists and steals.
The Leathernecks have won the last two meetings in this long-standing series, which dates back to 1928. They will likely keep their perfect home record intact by clamping down on the Panthers and forcing them to play their style.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 65, Eastern Illinois 59
12/04 10:36:53 ET