Eastern to host Murray State

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Two years ago when the Eastern men’s basketball team hosted Murray State, Panther fans packed Lantz Arena to the limit sporting their blue Eastern gear.

Junior Montell Goodwin was not at Eastern at the time, but he is hoping that Panther fans can do much of the same and give them a little boost.

Eastern is 5-2 at home and have been close with nearly every team they have played and Murray State will be the Panthers’ next big test Thursday at 7 p.m.

“There’s going to be a lot of energy, I think it’s going to be a full house tomorrow,” Goodwin said. “Hopefully the crowd can get us involved in the game. It’s going to be a big game. We just have to play hard defense.”

Eastern has not had a shortage of scoring this season, averaging 74.9 points per game and holding opposing offenses to 67.1 points per game, but defensive lapses over the past couple games gave opponents a few too many points.

Murray State averages 80.1 points per game this season and allows opponents to score an average of 76.6 points per game.

The final score has not gone in the Panthers’ favor when allowing 80 or more points in a game. Eastern is 0-4 when teams score more than 80, but are 7-1 when allowing 65 or fewer points.

Eastern had five players in double figures for scoring in its 74-60 win against Eastern Kentucky.

The Panthers may be 1-2 to start OVC play, but Jacksonville State is a top-100 team and Morehead State was no easy contest either.

Regardless, the Panthers need to clean up on defense to take on an offensive minded Murray State, Goodwin said.

“We fell asleep a couple of times and let (opponents) get easy layups and free throws,” Goodwin said. “We have to come together on defense and put together stops.”

And having a good start will be key for the Panthers. Eastern has come out of the half leading in most games and are 8-3 when leading at half time. But when Eastern does trail at the end of the half, the losses start coming. They are 1-4 trailing at half.

Eastern does not usually lead in rebounds, but when it does, they are undefeated at 5-0. When the Panthers lose the rebound battle, which has happened in nine games, they are 3-6.

Eastern will have a new name on the court Thursday, but it is not a new player. Terrell Lewis, formally known as Cornell Johnston, will play his first game under that name after a legal name change this week.

He is recognized as Lewis across the NCAA, and the stats he put up in the first 16 games still stand for him.

A win for the Panthers on their home floor will get them tied with Murray State for first place in the Ohio Valley Conference West standings.

Tip off is set for 7 p.m. in Lantz Arena and Eastern will finish up its home stand Saturday with a game against Austin Peay.

Sean Hastings can be reached at

 581-2812 or [email protected]