Morehead State (11-12) at Jacksonville State (14-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 5:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pete Mathews Coliseum (5,300) -- Jacksonville, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: Morehead State 8-3. JSU 7-3. Away Record: Morehead State 3-9, JSU 5-4. Neutral Record: Morehead State 0-0, JSU 2-0. Conference Record: Morehead State 5-4, JSU 6-4. Series Record: Morehead State leads, 15-6.
GAMES NOTES: The Jacksonville State Gamecocks will try to win three straight games for the first time since December when they host the Morehead State Eagles in Ohio Valley Conference play at Pete Mathews Coliseum Saturday night.
The Eagles have not been so lucky recently with losses in two of their last three games. The most recent setback was a 93-74 rout at the hands of conference leading Belmont on Thursday. With the loss, Morehead State fell back below .500 overall this season (11-12) and to 5-4 in league play. That conference record has the Eagles squarely in the middle of the pack in the OVC. Morehead State is 3-9 in road contest this season but will host Eastern Kentucky next.
Brian Williams' free throws with two seconds remaining lifted the Gamecocks to a surprising 65-64 win over Murray State last Saturday. The win came on the heels of an 81-74 win over Austin Peay for Jacksonville State which is a solid 14-7 overall this season while sitting a half game ahead of Morehead State in the conference standings at 6-4 in league play. This matchup ends a four-game homestand for the Gamecocks who are 7-3 at Pete Mathews Coliseum but will be playing Tennessee Tech on the road in their next matchup.
Last season Morehead State knocked Jacksonville State out of the OVC Tournament after the teams split the season series. The Eagles have won seven of the last eight meetings and lead the all-time series by a 15-6 margin.
In its loss to Belmont, Morehead State allowed the Bruins to shoot 53.1 percent from the field but the real separation came from the free-throw line. The Bruins knocked down 35-of-43 shots from the charity stripe while the Eagles only got 19 points from the line on 31 attempts.
Just like their overall record the Eagles' production on offense and defense has been rather even. Morehead State has a scoring margin of just +1.5 by netting 71.6 points per game on 43 percent shooting. Meanwhile on the defensive end the Eagles are letting up 70.1 points per game on 44 percent shooting. The Eagles have made strides on the boards as they rank second in the conference in rebounding (37.4 pg). Milton Chavis (11.0 ppg) and Angelo Warner (10.3 ppg) are the only players scoring in double figures for the Eagles who rely on a more balanced approach with six different players putting in at least seven points per game.
Jacksonville State had led for the entire second half against Murray State until the Racers took a 64-63 lead with nine seconds left. On their final possession Williams was fouled and calmly sank both free throws to give the Gamecocks the win.
Though they have not scored as well as Morehead State, the Gamecocks have played well enough on defense to keep themselves in games. Jacksonville State is limiting teams to just 62 points per game on 43.8 percent shooting. Four different players are scoring in double figures for Jacksonville State, although second leading scorer Darion Rackley (14.0 ppg) has missed the last five games with a thumb injury. Top scoring threat Tarvin Gaines (14.6 ppg) is still available though, as are Williams (12.2 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Ronnie Boggs (11.3 ppg).
With the momentum of back-to-back home wins on its side, Jacksonville State should be able to pull out a win on Saturday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jacksonville State 68, Morehead State 63
02/02 18:21:34 ET