Southeast Missouri State (18-13) vs. Eastern Kentucky (21-9)
GAME NOTES: Quarterfinal action of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament continues with a matchup between the sixth-seeded Southeast Missouri State Redhawks and the third-seeded Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville.
The winner of this quarterfinal contest will earn a semifinal berth, where Murray State will be waiting on Friday.
Southeast Missouri State has won its last five games going back into the regular season, and includes Wednesday night's 79-61 dominant win over Eastern Illinois in the OVC Tournament's first round.
Eastern Kentucky has also had a strong end to the year, finishing the regular season with four consecutive wins. The Colonels held on to beat Tennessee State on Saturday in their season finale, 70-66, to improve to 11-5 in the conference standings.
Eastern Kentucky holds a 10-game advantage over SEMO in the all-time series, 26-16. The Colonels took the only regular-season matchup between the sides back on Feb. 1 by a very slim 79-78 margin at EKU.
Tyler Stone scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks cruised past the Eastern Illinois Panthers, 79-61, Wednesday. Antonius Cleveland netted 15 points off the bench for SEMO, while Nino Johnson chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds. Darrian Gray scored 10 points, and Lucas Nutt dished out a team-best 10 assists in the win. The Redhawks connected on 50 percent of their shots from the floor in the win, and hit 57.1 percent of their 3-point field goals against the Panthers.
The Redhawks were an offensive machine this season, averaging a conference- best 83.3 ppg and sporting two of the top three individual scorers in the OVC in Jarekious Bradley (19.4 ppg, who scored nine points Wednesday) and Stone (19.1 ppg). Stone (9.5 rpg) was third in the OVC in the category in the regular season, and Lucas Nutt topped the OVC with 5.9 apg. What troubled SEMO during the season, however, was its defense. The team averaged a second-to- last 79 ppg allowed on the year.
Eastern Kentucky went on an 11-1 run late in the second half to put Tennessee State away, as the Colonels battled off the Tigers down the stretch to earn the four-point victory. Glenn Cosey and Tarius Johnson each scored 14 points to pace the Colonels, while Johnson added seven rebounds to his stat line. Orlando Williams chipped in 11 points in the win, and Corey Walden grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds. Eastern Kentucky connected on 43.1 percent of its shot attempts from the floor, and went 9-of-23 from 3-point distance.
The Colonels had a strong offensive and defensive year, checking in at third in the OVC in scoring (78.6 ppg) and topping the league in scoring defense (70 ppg allowed). The team also had the best free-throw percentage in the OVC (74.9 percent). Cosey topped the Colonels with 18.9 ppg (fourth in OVC) and had a team-best 64 assists, while Corey Walden added 14.4 ppg. Johnson rounded out the team's double- digit scorers with 12.1 ppg on the season. The Colonels sported the league's worst rebounding average per game at 26.4 per contest.
For a basketball fan, a clash similar to the one seen in the regular season between these two sides would be ideal. The Colonels barely escaped on their home court. This game promises to be an offensive battle between two strong starting lineups, but perhaps EKU is a bit more refreshed after getting the first-round bye.
GAME NOTES: Quarterfinal action of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament
continues with a matchup between the sixth-seeded Southeast Missouri State
Redhawks and the third-seeded Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Municipal
Auditorium in Nashville.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Municipal Auditorium (9,700) -- Nashville, Tennessee.
Television: OVC Digital Network. Home Record: SE Missouri State 9-4, Eastern
Kentucky 12-2. Away Record: SE Missouri State 5-9, Eastern Kentucky 8-6.
Neutral Record: SE Missouri State 4-0, Eastern Kentucky 1-1. Conference
Record: SE Missouri State 8-8, Eastern Kentucky 11-5. Series Record: Eastern
Kentucky leads, 26-16.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 6, 9 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Eastern Kentucky 79, SE Missouri State 76