Jacksonville State (11-5) at Eastern Illinois (3-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 12, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lantz Arena (5,300) -- Charleston, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: JSU 5-2, EIU 1-6. Away Record: JSU 4-3, EIU 0-8. Neutral Record: JSU 2-0, EIU 2-0. Conference Record: JSU 3-2, EIU 0-4. Series Record: Eastern Illinois leads, 9-6.
GAME NOTES: Suffering through a 10-game losing streak, the Eastern Illinois Panthers are back in action on Saturday night, as they entertain the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in Ohio Valley Conference action at Lantz Arena.
EIU has won a total of just three games in 17 opportunities this season, the last of those coming against Houston Baptist (64-44) back in late November. More recently, the team was in action on Thursday night and dropped a 77-73 decision versus Tennessee Tech at home, which means the Panthers are now 0-4 in conference play which has them last in the West Division standings.
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks enter the weekend also buried in the OVC standings, sitting in fifth place in the East Division even though they are 3-2 at the moment. Also playing two nights ago, JSU managed to snap a brief two-game slide with a 75-62 romp over SIU-Edwardsville on the road.
The Panthers lead the all-time series with JSU by a count of 9-6, including a mark of 5-2 in this building. However, the Gamecocks have won three of the last four meetings, including a 56-46 decision here last season.
Brian Williams scored a team-high 19 points, leading five players in double figures, as the Gamecocks posted a double-digit win over SIUE on the road two nights ago. Williams added eight assists and three steals for the Gamecocks, followed by Ronnie Boggs with 16 points, Tarvin Gaines 14 off the bench, Nick Cook 12 points and seven rebounds, while Darion Rackley tacked on 11 points as the team shot 52.9 percent from the floor. Over the course of five conference games, Gaines is the top scorer for the group with his 15.0 ppg, followed by Rackley with 14.6 ppg, thanks to his 10-of-21 shooting behind the 3-point line. The squad has been beaten on the glass in league play by more than eight per game, but at the same time the defense has stepped up to allow opponents just 26.3 percent success out on the perimeter.
Eastern Illinois shot a blistering 65.4 percent from the floor in the first half against Tennessee Tech on Thursday night, finishing with 55.3 percent accuracy overall, but still the team suffered the four-point loss at home. Morris Woods generated a team-best 25 points and ripped down seven rebounds in 33 minutes of action, but he was the only starter in double figures for the Panthers. Sherman Blanford came off the bench to offer up 16 points and six assists, but the other subs combined for just seven points. The scoring effort by Woods was somewhat unexpected given that he tallied just four points in the team's previous outing versus Morehead State. Nevertheless, after four league bouts Woods is the lone double-digit scorer with his 12.8 ppg, shooting an impressive 60.7 percent from the field. Unfortunately, the group as a whole is scoring only 59.0 ppg versus OVC opponents.
The Panthers showed some signs of life on Thursday when they hosted Tennessee Tech, but against the Gamecocks they will have trouble slowing the pace.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jacksonville State 69, Eastern Illinois 58
01/12 10:43:52 ET