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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 6:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Show Me Center (6,972) -- Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Television: None. Home Record: EKU 11-1. SEMO 7-3. Away Record: EKU 5-5, SEMO 3-7. Neutral Record: EKU 0-0, SEMO 1-2. Conference Record: EKU 6-3, SEMO 3-6. Series Record: EKU leads, 23-20.
GAMES NOTES: The Eastern Kentucky Colonels will try to stop sliding down the Ohio Valley Conference standings when they make a trip to the Show Me Center to duke it out with the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks on Saturday night.
Back-to-back setbacks to Belmont (85-74) and Tennessee-Martin (72-65) have the Colonels in the midst of their longest losing streak since December. The Colonels are still a solid 16-6 overall but at 6-3 in league play, they have dropped to fourth place in the conference standings. Eastern Kentucky has fought to an even 5-5 on the road this season but will be back at home to host NCCAA foe Crowley's Ridge College in a non-conference tilt next.
The Redhawks are also in the midst of a two-game losing streak as they fell short in a 78-72 overtime loss to Eastern Illinois last Saturday. SEMO is just 11-12 overall and 3-6 in league play. A contest at home could help the Redhawks bounce back as they are 7-3 at the Show Me Center. This game kicks off a three-game homestand for SEMO which hosts SIU Edwardsville next.
These two teams have traded wins and losses in the last four meetings with SEMO earning a 75-65 victory when these teams met last season. Eastern Kentucky leads the all-time series, 23-20.
After fighting to a 35-35 tie at halftime against Tennessee-Martin, Eastern Kentucky allowed the Skyhawks to shoot 50 percent from the field in the second half to surrender the game. Points from the free throw line were decisive in the contest with the Skyhawks hitting 28-of-34 attempts from the charity stripe while Eastern Kentucky had just 13 chances at the line.
It was only the second time in the last eight games that Eastern Kentucky failed to reach the 70-point plateau. That is a total that the Colonels have generally had no problem reaching as they are the third best scoring team in the conference (71.9 ppg) while ranking second in field goal percentage (.467). However the Colonels have shown a weakness on the boards where they rank last in the OVC (26.8 ppg). Mike DiNunno (15.8 ppg, 4.3 apg) has risen to the top of the scoring column, managing to keep his teammates involved by ranking fifth in the conference in assists. Glenn Cosey (15.3 ppg) and Corey Walden (12.4 ppg) add more scoring depth.
SEMO trailed by as many as 13 points against Eastern Illinois but managed to rally in the second half by holding the Panthers to 34.5 percent shooting while hitting 43.3 percent itself including 6-of-13 from beyond the arc. The Redhawks actually had a 61-59 lead with less than 10 seconds remaining but a pair of free-throws from Sherman Blanford forced overtime. The rally fell short from there as the Redhawks were outscored 12-1 from the charity stripe in the extra session.
A slim scoring differential (+0.8) has kept SEMO from posting more victories. The Redhawks are scoring a healthy 71.3 points per game while hitting on a solid 45.5 percent of their shots from the floor. However on defense the team is letting up 70.5 points per game despite holding teams to less than 40 percent shooting. Tyler Stone (16.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and Nino Johnson (11.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg) have anchored the team from the frontcourt with their ability to put points on the board efficiently while cleaning the glass as two of the top five rebounders in the conference. In the backcourt Corey Wilford (14.2 ppg) is the top scoring option while Lucas Nutt (5.6 ppg, 4.3 apg) handles distribution responsibilities.
In this game the Colonels should be able to recapture their offensive success but don't expect Eastern Kentucky to run away with the contest. Led by Stone and Johnson the Redhawks will have an edge inside that will ultimately fall just short.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Kentucky 72, SE Missouri State 68
02/02 10:46:13 ET
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