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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 19, 8 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Chaifetz Arena (10,600) -- St. Louis, Missouri. Television: FSN-MW. Home Record: EIU 1-5, SLU 5-1. Away Record: EIU 0-3, SLU 0-1. Neutral Record: EIU 2-0, SLU 1-1. Conference Record: EIU 0-0, SLU 0-0. Series Record: Saint Louis leads, 5-1.
GAME NOTES: The Eastern Illinois Panthers will try to put an end to their recent skid on Wednesday night when they enter Chaifetz Arena to tangle with the Saint Louis Billikens in a non-league tussle.
Eastern Illinois has lost each of its last four outings. The Panthers have had 10 days off following a 67-59 home loss to Toledo on Dec. 8, and are now opening a five-game road swing. Next up, they'll visit Drake on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Saint Louis is eyeing up a fourth straight win after Saturday's 73-51 rout of UT-Martin, which plays in the Ohio Valley Conference along with EIU. The Billikens are in their fourth game of a nine-game homestand that will not see them leave Chaifetz Arena again until Jan. 12. They'll host Loyola Marymount this Saturday.
SLU leads the all-time series with EIU, 5-1, which includes a 60-42 victory over the Panthers in 2009.
The Panthers dug themselves an early 7-0 hole against Toledo and spent the rest of the game playing catchup, as the Rockets went on to shoot a sizzling 59.1 percent from the floor. EIU, on the other hand, shot just 36 percent. Freshman guard Alex Austin finished with 21 points and six rebounds in the loss, while sophomore forward Josh Piper added 17 points and Sherman Blanford finished with 10. Austin and Piper combined to knock down 9-of-17 3-pointers, although the rest of the Panthers managed only 11 points collectively. Piper has drained at least one three in nine straight games and paces the squad with 12.1 points per game on the season. He ranks seventh in the OVC in 3-point field goal percentage (.458). However, Piper is also the only EIU player averaging double figures through 11 games, as the team is posting just 57.1 ppg. Junior forward Sherman Blanford averages 9.3 points and a team-best 5.5 rebounds per contest.
The Panthers face a tough challenge trying to find points against a Saint Louis team that leads the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring defense (59.4 ppg). At the offensive end, the Billikens are led by Dwayne Evans, who is netting 12.8 ppg to go along with a team-best 6.8 rpg. He entered the week ranked second in the A-10 in field goal percentage (.603). Cody Ellis (11.8 ppg) and Mike McCall, Jr. (10.9 ppg) are also averaging double figures, and those two have combined to sink 33 3-pointers at a 40 percent success rate. McCall is shooting at a league-best 53.6 percent clip from the perimeter. Against UT-Martin, Jordair Jett (9.8 ppg) tied his season-high with 17 points behind a 6-of-7 shooting effort from the floor. He also tallied four assists and three steals. McCall added 14 points for the Billikens, who went 20-of-27 at the foul line and committed only nine turnovers. Defensively, they held UTM to 34 percent shooting.
Saint Louis disposed of another OVC member its last time out, and rather handily. The Billikens have been playing well at both ends of the floor, and that is likely to continue tonight in their own building.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saint Louis 76, Eastern Illinois 66
12/19 10:40:04 ET
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