NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two of the three remaining undefeated Ohio Valley Conference men’s basketball teams will meet Thursday night when Eastern Kentucky University travels to Nashville to face conference newcomer Belmont University. Both squads are 4-0 in league play.
The live radio broadcast of the game is available in the Richmond area on WCYO 100.7 FM, and can be heard worldwide on EKUSports.com. A live video broadcast of the contest is available on OVCDigitalNetwork.com.
The Colonels (14-3) are off to their first 4-0 start in OVC play since starting 5-0 in 1978-79. This is the sixth time EKU has started league play with four or more wins. Eastern’s best conference start ever is 7-0.
Belmont, which joined the OVC this past summer, is off to a stellar start in league play. The Bruins have beaten their first four conference opponents by an average margin of 29 points. Belmont is 13-4 overall including a win at Stanford.
Eastern Kentucky is ranked 17th in this week’s CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25. That’s up one spot since last week (18). The game at Belmont will be Eastern’s second against a CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 team in the last three games. The Bruins rose two spots to No. 8 in this week’s poll.
After beating Murray State (47 RPI) and Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky moved from 125 to 92 in the latest NCAA RPI Rankings. Belmont has an RPI of 32.
In his last three games, sophomore Corey Walden is averaging 15 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game while shooting 41 percent from the field and 96 percent from the free throw line. Junior newcomer Tarius Johnson was named OVC Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com on Monday. Johnson averaged 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists in wins over Murray State and Morehead State. He shot 58 percent from the field.
Belmont leads the OVC in scoring (76.9 ppg), scoring margin (+14.9), field goal percentage (48.6 percent) and field goal percentage defense (38.3 percent). BU is second in the league in scoring defense (61.9 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (39 percent), three-point field goal percentage defense (29 percent) and turnover margin (-3.5).
Belmont’s starting five includes three seniors, a redshirt junior and a true junior. The team is led by Ian Clark. The 6-foot-3 senior guard averages 19 points, three rebounds and two assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 49 percent from three-point range. Kerron Johnson, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, contributes 13 points and five assists per contest. Trevor Noack, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, averages 13 points and a team-best six rebounds per game.
On Saturday the Bruins led by as many as 45 points in a 90-53 victory over UT Martin. Belmont shot 53 percent from the field, 41 percent from three-point range and committed 16 fewer turnovers. BU held a 35-10 advantage in points off turnovers. Clark scored 32 in 28 minutes on the court.
The all-time series between the two teams is tied 1-1. The Colonels won in Richmond in 1998 and the Bruins earned a victory in Nashville in 1999.