Panthers go on the road to face top OVC teams

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The Daily Eastern News

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News Shareef Smith looks around his defender to try and get a pass attempt off. Eastern defeated Southeast Missouri 61-59 Jan. 25 in Lantz Arena.

Blake Faith, Men's Basketball Reporter

The Eastern men’s basketball team’s game Thursday will be a matchup of contrasting records.

Murray State has yet to lose a game at home and the Panthers have yet to win a conference game on the road.

Murray State is currently 15-5 overall, 8-0 in conference play, and 10-0 at home. The Racers come in to Thursday’s matchup with a nine-game winning streak and are first in the OVC standings.

The Racers have four scorers that average double figures: Tevin Brown, KJ Williams, Anthony Smith and Jaiveon Eaves. Brown’s average of 18.3 points per game is fourth in the OVC.

Smith averages 10.7 points per game and leads the Racers in rebounding with 8.1 rebounds per game. He is third in rebounding in the OVC.

Eastern is currently 11-9 overall, 4-4 in conference play and 3-8 on the road. The Panthers are 0-4 in conference play on the road and sit in fifth place in the conference standings.

The Panthers have three scorers in double figures: Juniors George Dixon, Mack Smith and Josiah Wallace. Smith leads the Panthers in scoring (12.7 points per game), and Dixon leads the Panthers in rebounding (8.5 rebounds per game).

Dixon is third in the OVC in rebounding and was named this week’s Co-OVC Newcomer of the Week. This is the third time this season Dixon won the award.

The Panthers come off a four-game homestand in which they won all four; they had two really close games and two dominant games. The difference makers between the games were the assists and turnover columns for the Panthers.

Spoonhour believes that the Panthers are a much better team when they pass and move the ball, and it is evident in the box score. In the home games, where the Panthers had 22 assists in each game, they won by double figures. In the games where they averaged less than 10 assists, the Panthers only won by two or fewer points.

Last year the Panthers lost both games against the Racers. At home the Panthers lost 83-61 with Smith scoring a team-high 22 points. Ja Morant led the Racers and game in scoring with 27 points as he played in front of NBA scouts in Lantz Arena.

On the road the Panthers lost 86-75 as Wallace led the Panthers in scoring with 22 points. Morant led the Racers in scoring again, that time with 23 points.

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