For the stretch run of the season, we’re bring back our first word, starting with tonight’s non-conference game between Eastern Kentucky and Chattanooga.
15-8 (9-1 SOCON)
17-7 (7-3 OVC)
Bracketbusters may be a thing of the past, but Eastern Kentucky has a solid non-conference game in February tonight as they host UT Chattanooga tonight in Richmond.
Chattanooga record’s is a bit misleading. The Mocs started the season 4-8, and have since gone 11-1, including their 9-1 record in the Southern Conference, one of the few conferences with a lower RPI than the Ohio Valley Conference. In fact, UTC is ranked just 222nd in RPI, having played just one team all season in the RPI top-100. They also have no wins against the RPI top-150, where Eastern Kentucky resides.
That’s one reason a team with a similar record is a big underdog, at least according to Vegas.
If there’s one thing to avoid against the Mocs, it’s keeping them off the free-throw line. In conference play, Chattanooga’s offense has struggled a bit: they’re shooting just 43% from the field, and 32% from three-point range. But they’re 75% at the line, which provides a big boost to their offense. They’re tough to turnover, and a solid rebounding team, two things that could hurt EKU.
Eric Stutz is going face quite a test in Zaccheus Mason. The 6’6 forward is averaging over 17 points, and nearly 10 rebounds a contest. He can also step out and shoot three’s, meaning he’s not going to camp out in the paint. Mason also averages three blocks a game, which could provide a major challenge inside for Stutz, and any guards that dare drive the lane against him.
Eastern Kentucky is coming off a comeback win at home against Southeast Missouri, a game you could argue they probably should have lose. And they would have lost, if not for the heroics of Glenn Cosey in the final second, as well as clutch three’s by Orlando Williams and Marcus Lewis to ignite the comeback.
For the “non-conference home winning streak” folks out there, a win would set the school record for most consecutive non-conference home wins, at 22. EKU’s current 21-game non-conference home winning streak is tied with a run from 1977-1980.