Eastern to open season at Indiana


Jason Howell

Sophomore guard Cornell Johnston shoots 4-5 field goals and 2-2 from the arch during the Panthers’ 73-65 win over Southeast Missouri State on Feb. 22 in Lantz Arena.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

The Eastern men’s basketball team has released its schedule for the upcoming season. The Panthers will open their 2015-16 season at Big Ten member Indiana on Friday, November 13. The Hoosiers will be the only NCAA tournament team the Panthers will face in non-conference play.

Following that game, the Panthers will end a tour of the Hoosier state when they travel to Muncie for a matchup with Ball State.

The regular season home opener for Eastern will be on Saturday, Nov. 21, as the Panthers will host in-state foe Western Illinois. That will be the first of a four-game home stand, which will see the Panthers host Green Bay, Indiana State and Northern Kentucky at Lantz Arena.

Last year, Eastern made it to the postseason for the first time in 14 years. The Panthers defeated Oakland in the first round of the CollegeInsiders.com postseason tournament before losing to Evansville in the second round.

Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour said Eastern’s success during non-conference games played a big part in its success last season.

“Last year, our non-conference schedule was the toughest in the league, and winning some of those tough games is what allowed us to make it to the postseason,” Spoonhour said.

Eastern will also take part in the Global Sports Classic tournament in December. The Panthers will open tournament play with games at Marshall and Houston on Dec. 9 and 19, respectively. The Panthers will head to Las Vegas for the final two games of the tournament on Dec. 21 and 22.

Ohio Valley Conference play will begin on Dec. 31, as Eastern will travel to Cookeville, Tenn., for a game with Tennessee Tech. The conference home opener will be on Jan. 6, when the Panthers host Tennessee State.

Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, Tennessee-Martin and Murray State will be key matchups on the Panthers’ conference schedule during January and February. Murray State, which won the OVC regular season championship last year, will be the final home game of the season.

“This year’s schedule, I think, is equally tough,” Spoonhour said. “We were really fortunate to get some home games against teams that our fans will enjoy seeing.”

Fans will get their first glimpse of this year’s Panthers on Nov. 3, when they host St. Francis (Ill.) in an exhibition game. Eastern returns two All-OVC players in guard Cornell Johnston and forward Trae Anderson.

Season tickets will be available in early September, while single-game tickets will not be available until mid-October.


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