Austin Peay (5-20) at Eastern Illinois (7-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 14, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Lantz Arena (5,400) -- Charleston, Illinois. Television: WEIU. Home Record: APSU 4-7, EIU 3-7. Away Record: APSU 0-10, EIU 2-11. Neutral Record: APSU 1-3, EIU 2-0. Conference Record: APSU 1-10, EIU 4-8. Series Record: Austin Peay leads, 23-14.
GAME NOTES: The Austin Peay Governors hope to snap their eight-game losing streak as they host the Eastern Illinois Panthers at Lantz Arena in Ohio Valley Conference action.
This will be the 38th meeting in history between these OVC foes on the hardwood. Although APSU holds a 23-14 all-time series lead, EIU managed to win the first bout between these teams in 2012-13 on Jan. 19 by a score of 77-67 in Clarksville. Josh Piper tallied 20 points while Sherman Blanford registered a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Panthers. Will Triggs and Travis Betran scored 14 points apiece to lead the Governors.
Prior to the Panthers win in mid-January, APSU had won 13 of the last 14 meetings between the two schools with the EIU win coming on Feb. 25, 2010 in Lantz Arena. EIU is 10-8 all-time against APSU in Lantz Arena.
The Governors' slide has dropped them to 5-20 overall and a last place, 1-10 standing in OVC action. APSU is better than its poor record indicates however. Prior to falling, 78-65, to Belmont in its most recent outing, the team lost in overtime in back-to-back games to Murray State and Tennessee State, who have a combined 17-6 league record coming into Thursday. The Governors have lost seven games by one possession or in overtime on the campaign. Betran is leading the squad offensively with 17.9 ppg on 43.9 percent shooting from both the floor and 3-point range.
APSU will fall to 0-11 on the road if its loses to EIU. In their loss to the Bruins, Belmont shot 47 percent (28-for-60) from the field, including 14- for-24 from 3-point distance. The Bruins added 23 points off 16 Austin Peay turnovers while the Govs went 14-of-21 at the free-throw line. Betran tallied 22 points to lead the charge and Chris Freeman added 10 points off the bench.
After enduring a 12-game losing slide, EIU has gained some steam to go 4-2 in its last six games to improve to 4-8 in the OVC standings. The Panthers completed a 93-65 rout of Tennessee-Martin a week ago before being defeated, 77-64 by Southeast Missouri State. EIU will now return home where it is 3-7 after winning its last two in Lantz Arena.
Offensive firepower has been lacking for Eastern Illinois for the most part. The Panthers are the lowest scoring team in the OVC (59.8 ppg), while shooting at a mediocre 43.1 percent from the floor. Blanford (10.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Piper (10.2 ppg) are the double-figure scorers on the team and two of only four contributors putting in more than six points a game. Alex Austin was the lone bright spot in the loss to SEMO, tallying 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. EIU went 9-of-18 at the free-throw line in the contest and allowed the Redhawks to connect on 15-of-26 from 3-point range.
Although EIU had no answer for SEMO's hot shooting, it did a good job of limiting turnovers and forcing them. Austin Peay is clearly going to keep competing until the bitter end, and it is more than due for a victory. Betran will need some consistent help carrying the Governors to the decision.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Austin Peay 71, Eastern Illinois 63
02/14 10:55:46 ET