Western Carolina (3-4) at Eastern Kentucky (6-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 1, 7:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: McBrayer Arena (6,500) -- Richmond, Kentucky. Television: None. Home Record: WCU 1-0, EKU 6-0. Away Record: WCU 1-3, EKU 0-0. Neutral Record: WCU 1-1, EKU 0-0. Conference Record: WCU 1-0, EKU 0-0. Series Record: EKU leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: Off to their best start in 66 years, the red-hot Eastern Kentucky Colonels turn their attention to the visiting Western Carolina Catamounts for a non-conference tuneup at McBrayer Arena.
Eastern Kentucky is 6-0 for the first time since the 1946-47 season and is one of only five remaining unbeaten mid-major teams. The Colonels are coming off an impressive 84-51 win over Delaware State on Wednesday night, which came four days after a 24-point win over Norfolk State. Tonight's contest is the final game of the Colonels' seven-game homestand to open the season.
In comparison, all but one of Western Carolina's games thus far have been played in unfamiliar confines. The Catamounts struggled in the recent Cancun Challenge but have turned things around and enter the weekend seeking a third straight win. Most recently, they claimed a 79-65 win at Furman on Wednesday night.
EKU leads the all-time series, 2-1, although the Catamounts notched an 81-74 victory when these teams met on Feb. 19, 2011 in Cullowhee.
Catamount guard Trey Sumler led all scorers with 24 points in the team's 14- point win at Furman. Teammate Tom Tankelewicz, whose last-second free throws lifted WCU to a win over Howard last Wednesday, knocked down 5-of-7 3-pointers en route to second-half points. Josh Mendenhall added 12 points and Tawaski King scored 11 in the victory. After leading by six at halftime, WCU shot 58.1 percent from the floor and 54.5 percent from 3-point range over the final 20 minutes, in addition to hitting 10-of-12 free throws. The Catamounts once again played sound perimeter defense, limiting Furman to 2-of-16 shooting from beyond the arc. On the season, opponents have shot just 29.7 percent shooting from 3-point range against the Cats. Offensively, they are averaging a healthy 74 points per game.
Eastern Kentucky has held foes to only 61 ppg on the season, so something has to give in this matchup. The Colonels certainly didn't show many flaws in Wednesday's rout over Delaware State. In fact, they tallied 26 assists and only eight turnovers for the game, marking the team's highest assist total since dishing out 26 against UT Martin in 2005. Glenn Cosey scored a game-high 24 points to pace four players in double figures for the Colonels, who shot 53.1 percent from the floor and knocked down an impressive 11-of-26 3-pointers (.423). It was the fifth time in six games that EKU has shot 49 percent or better. Sound ball-handling and decision-making have also played a role in the team's hot start, as Eastern is averaging an Ohio Valley Conference-best -8.7 turnover margin.
EKU is seeking a 15th straight home victory in non-conference play. However, it won't come easily against a WCU team that can score in a number of ways.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Kentucky 71, Western Carolina 67
12/01 10:34:12 ET