Eastern Illinois (6-17) at Tennessee-Martin (6-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Elam Center (5,000) -- Martin, Tennessee. Television: OVC Digital Network. Home Record: EIU 3-7, UTM 5-5. Away Record: EIU 1-10, UTM 1-11. Neutral Record: EIU 2-0, UTM 0-0. Conference Record: EIU 3-7, UTM 3-7. Series Record: Eastern Illinois leads, 18-17.
GAME NOTES: The Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks look to keep their first winning streak of the season alive as they host the Eastern Illinois Panthers at the Elam Center for Ohio Valley Conference action.
This will be 36th meeting between Eastern Illinois and UT Martin. EIU took the all-time series lead with its 69-56 win over the Skyhawks on Jan. 24. The Panthers have won three straight in the series to now lead 18-17 all-time. In the first matchup of the season-series, EIU shot 52.2 percent from the field and limited UTM to 39.6 percent accuracy from the floor to earn the win. The Panthers trailed by five points at the intermission before dominating the second half by a score of 42-24.
EIU followed its win over UTM with a 78-72 double-overtime victory over SE Missouri State to mark its third win in a row. The winning streak ended with a 49-45 setback to the SIU Edwardsville Cougars on the road. The Panthers had averaged 74.6 ppg during the span of their three-game winning streak before going 1-of-17 from distance en route to just 45 point with two fewer assists (six) than turnovers. Morris Woods was the only Panther in double-figures with 16 points in the loss and the rest of the squad combined to go 12-of-41 (29.3 percent) from the field.
The Panthers' brief offensive outburst was out of the norm, as their scoring average of 58.2 ppg is more than four points less than SIU's second-to-last mark of 62.5 ppg. Even though EIU is allowing its opposition to shoot a healthy 46.8 percent from the field on the season, it is holding its opponents to a respectable average of 64.0 ppg. Sherman Blanford is both the team's leading scorer (10.6 ppg) and rebounder (6.2 rpg), while Josh Piper chips in 10.5 ppg on 41-of-102 from 3-point range. Woods has scored in double-figures in three consecutive games while going 18-of-33 from the floor during that span.
UTM is coming off a shocking victory, as it took down Eastern Kentucky, 72-65, at home on Thursday to improve to 6-16 overall , which includes its 3-7 mark in OVC action. The Skyhawks' three wins in league play has it tied for third place in the West Division standings with EIU and SE Missouri State. The win over the Colonels improved UTM to an even 5-5 mark at home. Coach Jason James's team is being outscored by an average of 9.2 ppg, which gives it the worst scoring margin in the OVC.
While UTM has just recently found its stride as a whole, sophomore Myles Taylor has been having a very productive season all along. The 6-foot-7 forward is the fifth leading scorer in the conference at 16.8 ppg and also ranks fourth in rebounding (8.1). Mike Liabo is chipping in 12.8 ppg, but the Skyhawks lack consistency down the line. UTM is the only team in the conference with a field goal percentage below the 40-percent mark (0.389), but it exceeded that clip for the second straight game versus EKU by going 20- of-47 from the floor including a 5-of-9 conversion rate from beyond the arc.
This measures up to be a revenge game for the surging Skyhawks. The Panthers looked lost offensively in their last appearance and could be in the same boat again now that UTM knows what to expect.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee-Martin 67, Eastern Illinois 61
02/07 10:33:50 ET