Jackson, Lewis likely out for weekend

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Jackson, Lewis likely out for weekend

Sophomore guard D’Angelo Jackson drives the hoop in the Panthers game against Southern Indiana at Lantz Arena on Nov. 6. Jackson had 17 points in the Panthers exhibition loss.

Sophomore guard D’Angelo Jackson drives the hoop in the Panthers game against Southern Indiana at Lantz Arena on Nov. 6. Jackson had 17 points in the Panthers exhibition loss.

Bryan Bund

Sophomore guard D’Angelo Jackson drives the hoop in the Panthers game against Southern Indiana at Lantz Arena on Nov. 6. Jackson had 17 points in the Panthers exhibition loss.

Bryan Bund

Bryan Bund

Sophomore guard D’Angelo Jackson drives the hoop in the Panthers game against Southern Indiana at Lantz Arena on Nov. 6. Jackson had 17 points in the Panthers exhibition loss.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Eastern’s basketball team is no stranger to tough tests. It had the string of games against NCAA Tournament caliber teams in November, and now, it just finished being tested by four straight OVC games to open conference play.

And all the while, it did this without senior guard Terrell Lewis, who has been the team’s point guard since he was a freshman.

Then, Eastern was faced with the test of playing without junior D’Angleo Jackson, who had made a quick impact. Jackson was hurt in the Panthers’ loss to Austin Peay on Dec. 30.

Without Lewis, who has not played since Eastern’s loss to Green Bay Dec. 6, and without Jackson, the Panthers won the last two games of their four-game road trip against Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky.

“I’m really proud of how the fellas reacted the past week,” coach Jay Spoonhour said. “We’ve dealt with some adversity that can really be discouraging, and their approach and enthusiasm has been great.”

Lewis and Jackson each averaged nearly nine points per game before their injuries.

Both guards are set to be evaluated this week, but no timetable is set for their returns to the lineup. Lewis was a regular starter, and Jackson started 9-of-12.

“We hope to have them back soon, but at this point, I’d say they are questionable for the games this weekend,” Spoonhour said.

After being faced with four straight games on the road to open OVC play, Eastern now has four in a row in Lantz Arena.

Eastern hosts Tennessee State, Belmont, Tennessee-Martin and Southeast Missouri over the next 11 days. The Panthers are tasked with Tennessee State Thursday and Belmont Saturday.

With the absence of Lewis and Jackson, Spoonhour stressed the importance of rebounding, but that is not the only thing that Eastern needs to improve on for the home stand.

Even though the Panthers beat Morehead State, Eastern shot the ball worse than the Golden Eagles (36.2 percent and 38.3 percent).

And they were able to just slip by the Colonels in the next game, having a world of a difference of halves. On a positive note, the Panthers stayed consistent, scoring 29 in the first and 25 in the second.

But Eastern Kentucky scored 19 in the first and 34 in the second, which is why the game ended as close as it did at 54-53.

The fix for Eastern?

“We’ve got to figure out a way to get a few more baskets per half,” Spoonhour said. “It boils down to better execution on the stuff we have, coming up with some new stuff and having a few more guys just step up.”

Four games in a row to start on the road presented a test for Eastern and it came away with a 2-2 record, but four straight at home now is another test for Eastern.

And to take full advantage of these games will put Eastern in good position moving forward. Eastern is 4-0 at home this season, with a measly 2-9 on the road (the last two wins).

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]