Men’s basketball team opening season at Northwestern


File Photo | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern forward Sammy Friday IV attempts a layup agaisnt Morehead State on Jan. 14, 2021, in Lantz Arena. Eastern lost that game 87-61.

Ryan Meyer, Men's Basketball Reporter

For the second straight year, the Eastern men’s basketball team will begin its season against a Big Ten opponent, this time against the Northwestern Wildcats for a battle of the cats.

Northwestern will be Eastern’s 39th Big Ten opponent in their history. Their current record against schools from the conference is 1-37.

The last time the two schools met was during the 2013-14 season, which the Panthers lost 72-55.

Last year the Panthers kicked off their season with a loss against Wisconsin on the way to a 9-18 overall record and a 6-14 record in the OVC, only finishing ahead of Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State.

Northwestern has played one game this season, an 85-40 victory against Lindenwood. Their 2020-21 record was 9-15 overall, and they return three double-digit scorers in guards Chase Audige and Boo Buie and forward Pete Nance.

The Big Ten matchup will be the first game for Eastern’s new head coach Marty Simmons, who came to Charleston by way of an assistant coaching position at Clemson.

As a head coach, Simmons is 282-248, having coached at the University of Evansville, SIUE and Wartburg College.

His last head-coaching stint was at Evansville from 2007-2018, where he went 184-175

According to game notes by Eastern’s athletic department, the projected starters for Eastern are as follows: Kejuan Clements, Elijah Wood and Henry Abraham at the guard positions, and Barlow Alleruzzo IV and Jermaine Hamlin as the forwards. Of Eastern’s returning players, Abraham and Alleruzzo IV are the only two in the starting lineup.

One notable returner not in the projected starting lineup is graduate student Sammy Friday IV, a forward who shot 60 percent from the field and averaged 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last year.

Also projected to come off the bench is one of the Panthers’ most tenured players, 5th-year guard Kashawn Charles, who averaged 7.7 points and 0.8 steals per game last year while shooting 35 percent from three-point range.

Clements, a transfer from Triton College, averaged 14.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists for a 20-win team last season.

Abraham averaged 5.5 points, 1.6 assists and 1.4 rebounds per game last year. Alleruzzo IV scored 3.4 points per game and grabbed 2.5 rebounds.

Last year Eastern edged out Northwestern in field goal percentage, shooting 43.6 percent while the Wildcats shot 43.3 percent. Eastern also had more rebounds per game than their upcoming opponent, by a margin of 35.1 to 33.6.


Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].