Eastern Illinois (3-3) at Western Kentucky (3-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326) -- Bowling Green, Kentucky. Television: None. Home Record: EIU 2-1, WKU 3-0. Away Record: EIU 1-2, WKU 0-2. Neutral Record: EIU 0-0, WKU 0-0. Conference Record: EIU 0-0, WKU 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will try to get back on track as they host the Eastern Illinois Panthers in non-conference action at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Panthers fell to 3-3 on the season on Wednesday as they suffered a 71-65 setback at home to IUPU-Fort Wayne. Two of EIU's victories came over non- Division I foes and it has been held under 70 points in five of its six outings. The Panthers were destroyed on the boards by the Mastodons, who finished the contest with a 33-16 edge in total rebounds. EIU has assisted only 66 made baskets and committed 73 turnovers.
WKU took down East Tennessee State, UNC Wilmington and Samford to improve to 3-0 at home before it was downed, 74-64, at Marshall on Tuesday. The Hilltoppers' only previous loss came at Wichita State. Their offense has been stagnant in posting only 62 points per game on 37.7 percent efficiency from the field. Defensively, WKU is holding the opposition to just 62.4 ppg and 28.4 percent shooting from 3-point range.
This bout marks the first meeting in history between the Panthers and Hilltoppers.
Four players scored in double figures for EIU in its loss to IPFW. Sherman Blanford paced the team with 17 points, and Dennis Green provided a spark off the bench with 16 points in 18 minutes. Alex Austin added 15 points and Reggie Smith finished with 10. Smith is netting team-highs of 14.4 points and 3.4 assists per contest. Austin the second leading scorer at 10.7 ppg. The Panthers clearly lack a presence on the interior as Keenen Anderson leads the team in rebounds with 4.5 per game despite averaging only 17.7 minutes. EIU has 10 different players clocking 11 minutes per game or more and none of the Panthers have started all six games.
The Hilltoppers have a go-to guy in T.J. Price, who is scoring a team-high 16.6 ppg. George Fant chimes in with 12.2 points, six rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per tilt. Price tallied only 11 points before fouling out after 13 minutes in the losing effort versus the Thundering Herd. Fant, Aleksej Rostov and Payton Hulsey were all disqualified with five personal fouls apiece as well. Hulsey had a strong showing with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Rostov, Hulsey and Brandon Harris combined for 13 of the Hilltoppers' 23 turnovers, which MU converted into 28 points.
WKU has won its last eight non-conference home games and its relentless approach at the defensive end has given it the best scoring defense average in the Sun Belt Conference. The Panthers have been able to take advantage of their open looks, but they will not get too many against the Hilltoppers unless they manage to give a much better effort on the boards.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Kentucky 64, Eastern Illinois 56
11/30 10:33:47 ET