Men’s basketball schedule released for upcoming season


File Photo | The Daily Eastern News Mack Smith starts to put a dribble move on a defender at the wing of the three-point line. Eastern defeated Fontbonne University 90-37 in December 2018 at Lantz Arena.

Dillan Schorfheide, Sports Editor

The Eastern men’s basketball team’s schedule was released Wednesday afternoon, and the Panthers will start conference play Jan. 2 on the road.

As previously reported in the Daily Eastern News, the Panthers open their regular-season schedule at national runner-up Texas Tech Nov. 5, with another road game against Wisconsin Nov. 8 to round out the opening week.

Eastern’s first home game of the regular season is Nov. 12 against Chicago State, but the Panthers will host the University of Missouri-St. Louis for an exhibition game Oct. 30.

Unlike last season, when the Panthers opened conference play hosting Tennessee-Martin and Southern Illinois Edwardsville, Eastern finds itself on a four-game road trip to open conference play.

Eastern will face Tennessee State Jan. 2 in the conference opener, followed by games against Belmont Jan. 4, Eastern Kentucky Jan. 9 and Morehead State Jan. 11.

Last season, against these four teams, the Panthers went 1-3 with the only victory coming against Eastern Kentucky in a home game.

Eastern’s first home conference match is against Jacksonville State Jan. 16, which will start a four-game conference home stand.

The Panthers’ other three games in that home stand consist of Tennessee Tech Jan. 18, Tennessee-Martin Jan. 23 and Southeast Missouri Jan. 25.

Against this bunch of teams last year, Eastern went 3-6, including its first-round loss in the OVC tournament to Tennessee-Martin.

The longest home stand after that is in February, when Eastern hosts Eastern Kentucky Feb. 6, Morehead State Feb. 8 and Southern Illinois Edwardsville Feb. 13.

Last season, the Panthers started conference play 5-2 before going 2-5 in the next seven conference matches.

The OVC appears to be more up-in-the-air heading in to this season in regards to the preseason favorites.

Belmont, the runner-up in the OVC tournament, lost senior star forward in Dylan Windler and Kevin McClain, but the Bruins are returning starting center Nick Muszynski and guard Grayson Murphy.

Murray State lost Ja Morant, who was the second overall pick in the NBA Draft over the summer, as well as Shaq Buchanan, a big scoring threat for the Racers.

Murray State does return guard Tevin Brown, who was one of the best three-point shooters in the conference last year, and Darnell Cowart, a power forward who gave teams fits.

Jacksonville State, who was picked to finish third in last season’s preseason poll, lost Jason Burnell, Detrick Mostella and Christian Cunningham, all who were big threats to opposing teams.

Lastly, rounding out the top four of the preseason poll from last season, Austin Peay returns its star player Terry Taylor, who is a force to be reckoned with.

Other teams, among them Eastern, will return a lot of younger players and the cores from last year’s teams, so the conference looks to be open at the moment.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]