The Eastern Illinois men’s basketball team will open Ohio Valley Conference play without its starting point guard. Terrell Lewis will miss his fourth straight game with an ankle injury. Lewis, a four-year starter who has more than 1,000 career points and 500 career assists, suffered the injury against Green Bay on Dec. 6.
EIU goes into Thursday’s game at Murray State with a 4-7 record and the Racers are 8-3. The game tips at 7 p.m. at the CFSB Center.
The Panthers have had some prep time without Lewis, though. They had a week of practice before the loss to South Alabama and then played two more games – Western Illinois and Saint Francis – without Lewis and EIU won them both.
D’Angelo Jackson entered the starting lineup at the point with Lewis out, and Montell Goodwin, a two-year starting shooting guard, has also handled the ball more. The redshirt was taken off Logan Koch and he’s come off the bench to play the point, too.
“Terrell isn’t going to play, but he’s on the trip. He’s good to have on the bench and he’s good for the guys to be around,” EIU coach Jay Spoonhour said. “D’Angelo has done fine and with him and (Goodwin) has done well with point guard duties. We will see if Logan Koch can do more and go from there.”
Goodwin’s scoring and shooting have picked up going into OVC play. He’s scored in double figures in four straight games and had 21 points against Western Illinois. He hit five 3s in the win over Saint Francis.
Jackson has averaged 3.6 assists per game in the last three games to go along with 11 points per game.
Muusa Dama had his ninth career double-double in the win over Saint Francis with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He’s averaging 7.2 rebounds per game, and he has pulled down double-digit rebounds in three of the past four games.
Jajuan Starks is averaging 12.1 points per game, which leads EIU.
Murray State is allowing 67.2 points per game and holding teams to 40.1 percent shooting.
Spoonhour thinks Murray State might press the Panthers a bit more in the game. EIU has turned the ball over 18 times each in two of the games without Lewis.
“They cover a lot of ground defensively. It might open stuff for us because if they press us, we could score more if we get around the press,” Spoonhour said. “We haven’t had it where if everyone plays well offensively in the same game. Jajuan played well early and it’s nice to see the ball go in for (Goodwin). If D’Angelo keeps from turning it over, he’s pretty good offensively.”
Offensively, Murray State is averaging 82 points per game and is shooting 48.8 percent from the field.
Terrell Miller is fourth in the OVC in scoring at 17.1 points per game and 7.8 rebounds a game. Jonathan Starks averages 16.3 points per game, and Ja Morant averages 12 points and has 74 assists on the season.
The Racers shoot 37.7 percent from behind the arc and are 5-2 at the CFSB Center this season.
“They are really good offensively. Really fast and Miller is shooting so well. That’s a big deal and that’s the kind of thing that makes him a really good player in college and will make him a good player professionally,” Spoonhour said. “The deal with them, they are a different team at home for sure and can get things rolling. They are so fast and have so many different guys that can score in transition. If they are able to get in transition, that score can run up there pretty fast.”