Panthers host UC Davis at 7 p.m. Thursday

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Kevin Hall | The Daily Easern News Luke Piotrowski,a junior foward, gts a block in the first half during the exhibition game against St. Francis Monday in Lantz Arena.

Jehad Abbed, Staff Reporter

The Eastern men’s basketball team will host the University of California-Davis at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Lantz Arena.

Both the Panthers and Aggies are coming off their first regular-season wins. The teams both put on efficient offensive displays earlier this week by shooting more than 50 percent from the field.

Eastern (1-1) struggled early on in its lopsided victory against NAIA Eureka College lineup on Monday. The Panthers may have a tougher match up with UC Davis (1-0) having a larger inside presence than Eureka.

Junior forward Chris Olivier has led Eastern through its first two games averaging 14.5 points and six rebounds. Olivier scored nine of his 13 points in the second half against Eureka.

Eastern freshman guard Cornell Johnston will look to get the ball inside to add to his impressive assist total. Johnston ranks sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference averaging five assists on the season and recorded seven in the first half Monday night. Johnston has also been the Panthers’ biggest threat from 3-point range.

Senior forward Josh Ritchart leads UC Davis, averaging 13 points on the season, but will be tested Thursday night against the Panthers. Eastern is third in the OVC for points allowed with only 57.5 per game. The Aggies only managed to score 57 points Sunday against Holy Names University.

While Eastern is also third in the OVC for opponent field goal percentage and holding Eureka to just 25 percent, the Aggies’ junior forward J.T. Adenrele ranks second in the Big West Conference shooting 80 percent on the season. All five starters for UC Davis are returners from last year’s team.

The Panthers are looking to pick up their second win on the season as well as another win on their home court. Thursday is the first time in history that Eastern has matched up with UC Davis for a men’s basketball game.

Eastern came out with a well-balanced attack Monday allowing them to get 12 players on the scoreboard. Senior center Mat Piotrowski was the only player that did not record a point for the Panthers.

The Aggies committed 13 turnovers in their last game, which they will need to avoid Thursday. Eastern forced 10 turnovers on Monday off which they scored 17 points.

The Panthers look to their bench for a large part of their scoring. Eastern bench players scored 45 points in their last game while the Aggies’ bench only scored 14.

UC Davis led the entire game Sunday. The Panthers will need to pounce early to assure control for the entire game. Eastern looks to improve to 2-1 in its last home game until Dec. 3. The Panthers start a four-game road trip playing through Thanksgiving break.

Jehad Abbed can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]