JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – After playing its final two home games of the month, Eastern Kentucky takes to the road for games at Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech this week.
Thursday’s game at JSU, will start at 8 p.m. ET. The live radio broadcast is available in the Richmond area on WCYO 100.7 FM, and can be heard worldwide on EKUSports.com. A live free video broadcast is available on OVCDigitalNetwork.com.
The Colonels (11-6, 3-1 OVC) are coming off a 78-62 victory at home over Southern Illinois Edwardsville. EKU leads the Oho Valley Conference East Division. Jacksonville State (8-12, 1-5) is tied for fourth in the East.
Eastern Kentucky has held nine of its last 10 opponents to less than 70 points. Offensively, Eastern’s win over SIU Edwardsville snapped a streak of six straight games being held under 70 points.
Senior guard Corey Walden is shooting 56.2 percent from the field this season and has scored 20 or more points four of his last six games. Walden is the only player in the OVC top-10 in scoring (2nd), field goal percentage (8th), assists (9th) and steals (1st). He needs two steals to pass former Colonel Mike Rose (184) and move into fourth place on EKU’s all-time steals list.
Eastern used a strong second half and a career game from forward Eric Stutz to beat SIUE on Saturday. Down 32-33 at halftime, EKU used a 10-0 run to start the second half and never looked back. Stutz scored a career high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, just one shy of his career high.
Walden added 19 points and had five assists. Senior guard Timmy Knipp had 14 points, half of which came from hitting 7-of-8 free throws.
EKU is second in the nation in turnover margin (+9.4). Jacksonville State averages only 12 turnovers per game.
The Gamecocks have lost three straight and eight of their last nine. Two of those setbacks were in overtime, including a 59-50 loss at OVC leader Eastern Illinois. JSU’s lone conference victory was at home over Austin Peay.
Darion Rackley, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound senior guard, leads the team in scoring (14.7 ppg). No other JSU player averages more than 9.9 points per game. As a team, Jacksonville State is 10th in the OVC with an average of 62.6 points per game.
Jax State is third in the league with an average of 35.8 rebounds per game. The Gamecocks are also third with 12.9 offensive boards per game. Jeremy Watson, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, leads the team with 6.4 boards per contest. Two others average five or more.
Guards Avery Moore and Malcolm Drumwright led JSU with 17 points each in a 55-52 loss at Tennessee-Martin on Saturday. The Gamecocks shot just 35 percent from the field, but turned the ball over only eight times.
The last time these two teams met, Eastern Kentucky shot 65 percent and limited Jacksonville State to 42 percent shooting in an 86-65 road victory on Feb. 15, 2014. Tarius Johnson had 19 points to lead Eastern. Orlando Williams hit three big second half 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. Rackley scored 19 points for the Gamecocks.
The Colonels shot 70 percent (14-of-20) in the first half and led by 10, 41-31, at intermission. EKU opened the second half with a 10-5 run to go up by 15 and remained in control the rest of the way. Back-to-back three-pointers by Williams and a bucket from Walden stretched the lead to 21, 64-43. Eastern took its largest lead of 29, 82-53, on bucket by Jeff Johnson.
EKU leads the all-time series with Jacksonville State 15-7. The Colonels have won eight straight against JSU. Eastern is 5-7 all-time in Jacksonville, but has won four straight on the Gamecocks’ home court.