Eastern resumes OVC play at SEMO

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern men’s basketball team will continue their Ohio Valley Conference schedule this Saturday at Southeast Missouri in the first of a three-game road

Junior forward Chris Olivier knocks a Murray State player on his back as he goes up for a shot during the Panthers' 77-62 loss to the Racers on Jan. 22 in Lantz Arena.  Olivier scored 17 points for the Panthers.  The Panthers go into Saturday's game at SEMO 7-3 in the OVC.

Jason Howell
Junior forward Chris Olivier knocks a Murray State player on his back as he goes up for a shot during the Panthers’ 77-62 loss to the Racers on Jan. 22 in Lantz Arena. Olivier scored 17 points for the Panthers. The Panthers go into Saturday’s game at SEMO 7-3 in the OVC.

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The Panthers will not return home until February 19th, nearly two weeks away.

The Panthers are coming off a 59-32 victory over NAIA school Baker University on Tuesday night, a game in which the Panthers set the Lantz Arena record for fewest points allowed. The win improved the Panthers record to 14-9 overall, while their OVC record is 7-3.

Eastern is currently the third best defense in regards to field goal percentage. Opponents have only been able to score 227-of-562 baskets against the Panther’s defense for a .404 average. They also rank second in three-point field goal percent defense, allowing only 65-of-215 attempts for a .302 average.

The Redhawks were victorious in their last game against Austin Peay, as they beat the Governors 70-64 on the road. The win improved their overall record to 10-12 and 4-5 in the OVC.

Senior guard Jarekious Bradley led the team with 15 points that night, including hitting 50 percent of his shots from the floor.

Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour believes that Bradley is one of the more explosive players in the league.

“Bradley is an explosive player and in a lot of ways,” Spoonhour said. “He looked good against Austin Peay and he’s got them playing their best ball right now.”

Bradley has averaged 14.6 points per game in conference play.

The Panthers should be well rested for this game, after getting some rest for their starting lineup late in the game Tuesday. Freshman Cornell Johnston led all players with 12 points scoring, while playing 25 minutes.

“It was good to get (Johnston) some rest on Tuesday,” Spoonhour said. “He’s played a lot this year, and for good reason. Like all players he needs some rest every once in a while.”

Both teams rank first and second in the conference in blocked shots. Southeast Missouri ranks first with 47 total and averaging 5.2 per game. Redhawks’ senior Nino Johnson leads his team with 21 blocks in OVC play.

Eastern ranks second with 45 while averaging 4.5 per game. Junior forwards Chris Olivier and Luke Piotrowski both lead the team with 22, apiece.

“Southeast Missouri will be a different team than we’ve played the last few years,” Spoonhour said. “Right now we’re back to the way we need to play.”

The Panthers and Redhawks are set to tip-off at 6 p.m. in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on Saturday.

 

Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].