Eastern looking for another big win

Vince Lovergine, Men's Basketball Reporter

The Eastern men’s basketball team got themselves a much-needed win last weekend, and they will search for another big win Thursday night against Southern Illinois Edwardsville.

It will be another game in Lantz Arena for the Panthers, who are 8-1 on their own hardwood.

This is a game Eastern cannot take lightly because the Cougars just defeated fourth-place Eastern Kentucky Saturday at. Despite the win for Southern Illinois Edwardsville, it is coming in to the game against Eastern at 3-9 in the OVC and 6-19 overall. 

Looking ahead in the schedule, Eastern can very well win every game from here on out. Murray State and Austin Peay do come to Lantz Arena in the coming weeks, and Eastern lost by a combined seven points to the Racers and Governors on the road a couple weeks ago. 

Some positives Eastern hopes to duplicate is not turning the ball over. The team committed just nine against Morehead State. Also, starting out fast is big. Eastern jumped out to a 19-4 advantage against Morehead State and eventually led by 16 points.

Last season was a success for Eastern against Southern Illinois Edwardsville, notching two wins over the Cougars including an 84-81 overtime win in Lantz Arena where Josiah Wallace dropped 24 points. 

Mack Smith heads into Thursday night’s affair at 73 straight games making at least one three pointer and can take sole possession of second place in NCAA Division I History if he extends the streak. 

A streak like this is in the minds of Smith and others but three-point shooting isn’t the only thing Smith can bring to the table. 

“I’ve been working on my explosiveness, my quickness and finishing at the rim,” he said. “Shooting is not the only thing I can do. I can come off ball screens, I can make plays for others, and that feels good.”

Head coach Jay Spoonhour emphasized how Jordan Skipper-Brown and JaQualis Matlock gave the Panthers a lift inside against Morehead State and that’s something he hopes can continue.

“Skipper was around the basket more, and “Q”, (JaQualis Matlock) gets six offensive rebounds, I don’t know how many of those we ended up scoring on, but it’s a big deal,” Spoonhour said. “If you have a limited amount of possessions a game, those things are magnified.”

Zeke Moore will be a guy Eastern will focus on more, leading the Cougars in scoring with nearly 13 points a game. Moore has struggled as of late though, not being able to reach above 10 points in two of the last three games. 

The OVC standings are becoming even more intense now because Eastern and three other teams are two games behind fifth in the standings. Right now, the Panthers currently sit seventh in the standings. 

Vince Lovergine can be reached 581-2812 or [email protected]