Morehead State (11-11) at Belmont (17-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 31, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Curb Events Center (5,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: None. Home Record: Morehead State 8-3, Belmont 8-0. Away Record: Morehead State 3-8, Belmont 7-3. Neutral Record: Morehead State 0-0, Belmont 2-1. Conference Record: Morehead State 5-3, Belmont 8-0. Series Record: Belmont leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Morehead State Eagles will try to hand the Belmont Bruins their first-ever Ohio Valley Conference loss when the two square off at the Curb Events Center.
This will be just the second meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. J.J. Mann knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers, including the game- winner, as Belmont overcame a 14-point, second-half deficit to edge Morehead State 64-63 a week ago on the road. Ian Clark scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half for the Bruins, while Bakari Turner netted 16 points to pace MSU.
The Eagles bounced back from their heartbreaking setback to Belmont with a 78-69 victory over Tennessee State on Saturday. The decision put them back at the .500 mark and improved their OVC record to 5-3, which is three spots behind the first place Bruins. Angelo Warner poured in 24 points while MSU converted 28-of-32 attempts at the charity stripe in the contest to overcome a narrow halftime deficit. Turner also reached double figures to extend his streak of games with 10 points or more to six. During that span, the junior guard is netting 14.3 points, which is more than double his season average. Chavis Milton and Warner are scoring 11.5 and 10.1 points per game, respectively. Although MSU lacks a dominant scorer, it is still fourth in the OVC in scoring (71.5 ppg). However, the Eagles are one of the more generous teams on the defensive end with an allowed average of 69.0 ppg.
The Bruins have already emerged as the class of the conference in their inaugural tour of the league, winning all eight of their games since entering OVC action to rise to a 17-4 overall record. The dominance over conference rivals is nothing new. Belmont and Kansas are the only two programs in the nation to win 12 or more conference games each of the past 10 seasons.
Belmont followed up its win over MSU successfully as it collected an 85-74 victory at Eastern Kentucky. Clark led the way with 21 points while Mann (18), Kerron Johnson (16), and Trevor Noack (13) joined him in double-figures. The balanced effort is nothing out of the ordinary and it has helped Belmont to the highest scoring average (77.0) and second best scoring defense mark (63.4) in the league.
Clark was named the OVC Player of the Week as he continued to terrorize league rivals. The senior guard has scored at least 20 points in six straight outings and is tallying a conference-best 22.3 points per game during OVC action. Johnson is adding 13.2 points per contest and Noack generates an additional 12.5 ppg to go along with his team-best 5.8 boards per tilt.
No other OVC team has come as close to upsetting the Bruins as MSU to this point. However, the Eagles will realize the task will get much more difficult at the Curb Events Center, where Belmont is undefeated on the year. The hosts have way too many weapons to go along with their tough approach on the defensive end to be upset by a team they will take much more seriously after a close call in the first meeting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 78, Morehead State 65
01/31 10:33:05 ET