Southeast Missouri State (11-11) at Eastern Illinois (5-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lantz Arena (5,400) -- Charleston, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: SEMO 7-3. EIU 2-7. Away Record: SEMO 3-6, EIU 1-9. Neutral Record: SEMO 1-2, EIU 2-0. Conference Record: SEMO 3-5, EIU 2-6. Series Record: Eastern Illinois leads, 23-22.
GAMES NOTES: The Eastern Illinois Panthers will try to earn their first three- game winning streak of the season when the Southeast Missouri Redhawks come to town for an Ohio Valley Conference bout at Lantz Arena.
For the Redhawks things have been going in the wrong direction over the last few weeks. An 80-77 loss to SIU Edwardsville on Thursday was the fifth setback in the last six games for SEMO which has seen its overall record drop to an even 11-1,1 while its league mark has fallen to 3-5. That is good enough for just eighth in the conference standings. This will end a short two-game road stint for the Redhawks, who are 3-6 away from home this season. A three-game homestand is on the horizon after this game beginning against Eastern Kentucky.
After failing to earn a win for nearly two months the Panthers have suddenly won back-to-back contests for the first time since mid-November. The most recent victory was a convincing 69-56 triumph over Tennessee-Martin in the first half of this two-game homestand. The Panthers are still just 5-16 overall and 2-6 in league play but a win in this game would net them their first three-game winning streak since last February. Up next for Eastern Illinois is a three-game road trip that kicks off against SIU Edwardsville.
Last year SEMO swept the season series between these squads to earn its fourth straight victory against the Panthers. With the current streak the Redhawks have closed the gap in the all-time series which they still trail by a 23-22 margin.
The Redhawks trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half against SIU Edwardsville and a late surge came up short on Thursday. The Redhawks really failed to replicate the success they had in the first half, when they shot 56.3 percent from the floor, in the final 20 minutes when they cooled to just 39.3 percent.
On the season SEMO is scoring at a healthy 71.2 points per game clip while shooting better than 45 percent from the floor. Tyler Stone (16.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Nino Johnson (11.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg) have provided plenty of scoring and rebounding for the Redhawks. Johnson will be looking to bounce back from a 9- point, 2-rebound effort against SIU Edwardsville. Corey Wilford (13.9 ppg) can shoot it from just about anywhere on the floor and as he proved against the Cougars with 21 points.
After trailing 32-27 at the half against Tennessee-Martin, Eastern Illinois tightened up on defense and dominated in the second half. The Panthers allowed just nine field goals from the Skyhawks in the final 20 minutes, while shooting at a 52.2 percent clip from the field itself. Turnovers were a bit of an issue though as the Panthers were outscored 19-5 in points off takeaways.
Generally Eastern Illinois has really struggled to put forth much on the offensive end. The Panthers are the lowest scoring team in the OVC (57.9 ppg) while shooting at just a 43-percent clip. Rebounding is also a weakness for the Panthers who rank second to last in the category in the league (28 pg). On the defensive end of the floor the Panthers are letting up 64.3 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting. Josh Piper (10.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Sherman Blanford (10.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) have been the only consistent double-figure scorers on the roster. That has been especially true of late for Blanford who has scored in double figures in six straight contests while averaging 14.2 points per game during that streak. Morris Woods (9.0 ppg) has been a streaky scorer as well, but has eight double-figure games under his belt.
Though Eastern Illinois is riding some momentum in this contest the Panthers' lack of production on the interior will be their downfall against the Redhawks' Stone and Johnson.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SE Missouri State 68, Eastern Illinois 60
01/26 11:15:17 ET