|Points:||T. Anderson (10.9)||Hawkins (20.3)|
|Rebounds:||T. Anderson (5.0)||Adenrele (6.0)|
|Assists:||Johnston (4.25)||Hawkins, Graham (3.0)|
|Steals:||Chatman (1.1)||Hawkins (1.8)|
Corey Hawkins is the man at UC Davis.
Not only is the 6’3 guard averaging more than 20 points a game, he’s tied for second on the team in rebounds, tied for the lead in assists, and averages just under two steals a game.
Not that I really need to tell Eastern Illinois this. When Hawkins brought his team to Charleston last month, Hawkins hit five three’s, on his way to a game-high 28 points, as his Aggies notched a narrow win over the Panthers.
EIU struggled that day against the Aggies defense, shooting just 37.7% from the floor, but staying in the game thanks to 19 offensive rebounds.
That wasn’t an especially off night for the Eastern Illinois offense.
Since then, head coach Jay Spoonhour has tried to shake things up, bringing their top two scorers on the year, Trae Anderson and Chris Olivier, off the bench in recent games. They’ve also dealt with their fair share of injuries: Reggie Smith played just three minutes in a win over Ball State due to knee-issues, and Trae Anderson has been nursing a sore heel.
Both are expected to play tonight. Smith — likely to start.
I’ve made a big point out of Eastern Illinois’ offensive struggles this year, but statistically it’s par for the course in the OVC. They continue to look to slow down games, meaning fewer points in the end, but it’s no less efficient than Jacksonville State or Tennessee State, and is very near to even Morehead State’s. But the Panthers are solid defensively. They’re leading the league in two-point shooting defense, and third in overall field goal defense. (Three-point defense? Eh…) But the defense doesn’t force turnovers, which puts more pressure to get stops, and rebounds off misses.
If this team can find a consistent scoring option, and play defense at the same level they have been this season, this is a team set up to make noise in the OVC.
If not? They’re not going to let many teams get to 65 points. They won’t let some to 60. Because of that, EIU will be in games late.
Tonight, it’s a long road trip, against a team coming off their first loss of the year, that beat you on your home court.
Show us what you got, EIU.