The Panthers picked up a split on the road at Murray State on Thursday with the men winning 61-60 while the women dropped a 71-64 decision. Both teams return to action on Saturday at UT Martin.
The women's game will feature two teams vying for top four positions in the OVC race -- UT Martin is currently tied for 2nd (6-2)... EIU is currently tied for 4th (5-3).
The men's game will feature two teams on current OVC win streaks. EIU has won two straight knocking off Morehead State and Murray State to improve to 4-4 and move into 6th place in the league standings. UT Martin has also won two straight beating Jacksonville State and Southeast Missouri to stand at 2-7 in the OVC.
MEN'S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Our men's player of the game is Jeremy Granger. Granger matched his season high for points at 18 with the most important two points coming with 3.2 seconds left as his floater in the lane won the contest. Granger was also 4-of-4 from the free throw line as he ranks 9th in the NCAA in that category this year.
WHAT WE LEARNED IN THE MEN'S GAME
* Free throws do indeed count... The EIU men made 15-of-19 (79 percent). Murray State made 18-of-32 (56 percent). Those shooting percentages probably helped decide the game as much as any action on the court.
* The Panthers can play defense... We were pretty sure EIU could play good defense when they shut down Morehead State last week limiting them to 40 points and holding NBA prospect Kenneth Faried to five points. Against Murray State they shut down the whole team not allowing a Murray State field goal in the final 10:17 of the game.
* New intentional foul rule is not decisive... This year a point of emphasis was made on any flagrant throws of the elbow by a player would result in a technical and possible ejection. On Thursday Matt Dorlack was called for one but not by an official that actually saw the play. Matt appeared to be clearing the ball to an open man at the top of the key and made contact with a MSU player. The officials called time out. Went to the monitor and then after several minutes of discussion decided it was a technical foul. I like the rule, but I think as with many calls - you either saw it or you didn't. The TV should not determine fouls.
WOMEN'S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jordyne Crunk was our nominee for this after she poured in a career high 14 points at Murray State. Crunk played a team-high 36 minutes and was immediately called to action after Ta'Kenya Nixon drew two quick fouls in the first three minutes of the game.
WHAT WE LEARNED IN THE WOMEN'S GAME
* Balance equals wins... While the focus of EIU's offense has been good post player point production, EIU seems to be most effective when some other players can step up and produce. Against Murray State - Ta'Kenya Nixon and Mariah King provided 30 points and Crunk had 14 off the bench but EIU probably needs a fourth scorer on a regular basis to step up.
* Robinson at Murray can score... Mariah Robinson put up 45 points against Jacksonville State the week prior to playing EIU. In the first half against the Panthers she appeared headed for that elite range once again with 23 first half points. EIU did a good job of holding her to only six second half points but that focus probably allowed some other players to have better games than average.
* Tough place to win... Murray State has always been a tough place to win for both the EIU men and women. It proved to be so once again for the women's team on Thursday.
WHERE WE ATE.
Always one of the most important factors on any trip. We battled the snow storm most of the way down to Murray and our hats go off to the road crews for quickly taking care of I-57 in Illinois and I-24 in Illinois/Kentucky. Since we were not quite sure how long we had for lunch, we popped in at Back Yard Burgers in Paducah and it was good fast food stop as always. This particular BYB offers fresh cobbler for desert... Cherry was the choice of the day.