Eastern Kentucky (17-9) at Jacksonville State (10-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 5:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pete Mathews Coliseum (5,500) -- Jacksonville, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: EKU 10-2, JSU 7-4. Away Record: EKU 6-6, JSU 2-12. Neutral Record: EKU 1-1, JSU 1-1. Conference Record: EKU 7-5, JSU 4-8. Series Record: Eastern Kentucky leads, 14-7.
GAME NOTES: The suddenly struggling Eastern Kentucky Colonels will try to right the ship as they take on the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in an Ohio Valley Conference contest at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
Eastern Kentucky had won seven of eight games prior to its current two-game slide, which has featured setbacks against Morehead State (86-79) and at Tennessee Tech (72-66). The Colonels are still tied for the second-best overall record in the league (17-9), but they have sunk to fourth in the conference standings (7-5). They visit Austin Peay in the final installment of their current three-game homestand next.
Jacksonville State's 69-67 loss to Morehead State extended the team's losing streak to four games. Such stretches of futility are not uncommon for the Gamecocks, who are just 10-17 overall and 4-8 against the rest of the OVC. They visit Southeast Missouri State in their next bout.
Led by a game-high 20 points from Eric Stutz, Eastern Kentucky was able to escape with a 60-56 victory over Jacksonville State earlier this season. The Colonels have won seven straight in the series, which they lead by a 14-7 margin.
Against Tennessee Tech, EKU failed to come up with enough stops on defense, allowing the Golden Eagles to connect on 55.8 percent of their shots from the floor. The Colonels only turned in a 40.8 percent effort themselves, while being outscored off turnovers, 24-17.
Performing so poorly on offense is not something Jeff Neubauer has come to expect from his squad. Eastern Kentucky is scoring 78.2 ppg and shooting 47.7 percent from the floor, ranking third and fourth in the OVC, respectively. However, the Colonels are at a major disadvantage when shots aren't falling, as they are last in the league in rebounding (26.8 rpg). Glenn Cosey (18.8 ppg, 4.2 apg) handles most of the scoring duties, while also leading the team in assists. Cosey tallied 13 points against Tennessee Tech, but on just 3- of-13 shooting. Corey Walden (13.3 ppg) and Marcus Lewis (11 ppg) are also reliable threats to reach double figures.
It was a difficult loss to take for Jacksonville State against Morehead State, as the Gamecocks never trailed by more than six points in the final eight minutes, but could never pull even or ahead. They connected on 42.6 percent of their shots from the floor and scored 24 points off turnovers, but a 26-16 deficit at the free-throw line was the deciding factor.
Unlike Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State has not excelled on offense at any point this season. The Gamecocks are last in the OVC in scoring (65.5 ppg) and ahead of only Tennessee-Martin in terms of field goal percentage (.425). They don't do a good job cleaning up after themselves either, ranking next-to-last in the league in rebounding (30.5 rpg). Darion Rackley (12.7 ppg) and Brian Williams (11.8 ppg) are the only players on the team putting in more than nine ppg, but each is connecting on less than 40 percent from the floor. Rackley scored 12 points against Morehead State, but Williams missed the game with an injury.
The Gamecocks have a hard enough time putting points on the board without losing one of their best scorers. With Williams' status still uncertain an already improbable upset bid becomes that much more unlikely.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Kentucky 76, Jacksonville State 67
02/15 10:47:31 ET