CHARLESTON — It’s a quick turnaround for the Eastern Illinois men’s basketball team. Two nights after losing at Western Illinois, the Panthers return to Lantz Arena to host IUPUI at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
However, it’s good practice for the Ohio Valley Conference play when there’s not much turnaround and team’s have to forget about losses quickly.
“That’s the good thing about basketball. If you feel bad, you don’t have long to feel good again. If you feel happy with yourself, it could get turned around, Spoonhour said. “We have had a lot of ups and downs for a season that’s barely started. We’ve played well, we’ve played poorly. We did a whole lot right against Western, we just stopped scoring. Early in the year, like with their team, we are just trying to figure out who we are. We’ve proven we can be pretty good, we just need to do it more often.”
The Panthers come into the game with an 0-2 record after losing to Nebraska and Western Illinois by a combined six points. IUPUI is 1-1 with the one win coming against NCAA Division III Anderson University. The loss was to Bradley, who EIU plays on Dec. 1, on Nov. 11 by the score of 68-53.
Despite being about two hours away, it’s only the fifth meeting between the two programs. The last time the two programs faced was November of 2008. The series is tied at 2-2 and both of EIU’s wins have come at Lantz Arena in 1977 and 1984.
IUPUI is coached by former University of Arizona star guard Jason Gardner, who is in his fourth season leading the Jaguars. This isn’t Gardner’s first time facing the Panthers, but the last time was as a player when the Wildcats beat EIU in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2001.
The Jaguars are coming off a 14-18 season and return two starters from squad. IUPUI moved from the Summit League to the Horizon League this season. Ron Patterson leads IUPUI with 12.5 points per game and Elyjah Goss is averaging nine rebounds per game. T.J. Henderson is averaging 10 points per game.
“They have two great scorers. Henderson and Patterson are good scorers and they have two good inside players,” Spoonhour said. “They post up and work hard. Every game that you look at on our schedule is a tough game and this one is no different.”
Jajuan Starks leads EIU with 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. The Wabash Valley College transfer has scored in double figures in both of his games this season. He scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the loss to WIU on Wednesday.
D’Angelo Jackson and Montell Goodwin are both averaging 10 points per game and Jackson is averaging 3.5 assists per game. Goodwin has scored 10 points in each of the first two games and had 23 double-figure scoring games last season and had six games of 20 or more points. He’s made 71 3-pointers in his career at EIU.
Terrell Lewis is averaging three assists per game and Muusa Dama is averaging five rebounds per game. Lewis made a 3-pointer against WIU and has 195 for his career, which ranks sixth all-time in EIU history.
Spoonhour said guard Logan Koch, who was going to be a sophomore this season, will redshirt.
In both games this season, EIU grabbed more than 40 rebounds. EIU tied Nebraska with 43 rebounds each and the Panthers won the rebounding battled against the Leathernecks on Wednesday with 41 boards compared to 37 for WIU. IUPUI is averaging 38 rebounds a game.
“I like the way we are doing a lot of stuff. We have a pretty serious mindset about guarding and trying to rebound,” Spoonhour said. “There will be times where we will be lax on that stuff, that’s the nature of the season. Guys are figuring out their roles. It’s disappointing in some areas that we played, but don’t have time to worry about.”