SIU Edwardsville (9-17) at Eastern Illinois (10-20)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 2, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lantz Arena (5,400) -- Charleston, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: SIUE 8-5, EIU 4-9. Away Record: SIUE 1-12, EIU 4-11. Neutral Record: SIUE 0-0, EIU 2-0. Conference Record: SIUE 5-10, EIU 5-10. Series Record: EIU leads, 4-2.
GAME NOTES: With a spot in the upcoming OVC Tournament at stake, the SIU Edwardsville Cougars and Eastern Illinois Panthers will close out their respective regular-season schedules against one another at Lantz Arena.
SIUE notched a 49-45 win in Edwardsville last month, although the Cougars have never won in Charleston. EIU holds a 4-2 lead in the all-time series, and the winner of today's rematch will earn their way into the conference tournament.
The Cougars' road struggles are certainly not limited to Charleston, as they are just 1-12 as the visiting team this season. They have lost four in a row and six of their last seven games overall. SIUE's last outing resulted in a lopsided 73-43 setback at OVC regular-season champion Belmont on Wednesday night. The Cougars hardly knew what hit them in that contest, as the Bruins made 13 of their first 16 shots and raced out to a 28-9 lead. Things only continued to spiral downhill in the second half for the Cougars, who shot a mere 4-of-22 from the floor after halftime. Kris Davis led all scorers with 19 points, while teammate Tim Johnson scored 13. However, the rest of the Cougars combined for only 11 points. SIUE has struggled to find consistent offense in the absence of leading scorer Jerome Jones (16.2 ppg), who was suspended indefinitely last month.
EIU enters this matchup with some momentum, as the team has won three of its last four games. Most recently, the Panthers notched a 58-50 victory at Chicago State on Tuesday. Three days before that, they posted a 59-47 road win over Northern Illinois.
Strong defense has certainly been the key for the Panthers in their last two victories. Earlier this week, they held Chicago State to a dismal 31-percent shooting effort from the floor. On the offensive end, Malcolm Herron scored a career-best 14 points behind 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 accuracy from beyond the arc. Alex Austin and Josh Piper joined him in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Sherman Blanford, the OVC's ninth-leading rebounder (6.6 rpg), pulled down 12 boards to go along with seven points. His 86 offensive rebounds this season are the third-highest total in school history. Blanford is second on the team in scoring (10.6 ppg) behind Morris Woods, a 51-percent shooter from the floor who averages 10.8 points per game.
SIUE won the first meeting between these two teams, but the Cougars' struggles outside of Edwardsville are well documented. They'll need to bring their A- game if they hope to change that and make it into the OVC tourney.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Illinois 56, SIU Edwardsville 48
03/02 10:43:41 ET