CHARLESTON (WCIA) — The Eastern Illinois men’s basketball team is just happy to be playing a home game. The Panthers (7-9, 0-4 OVC) haven’t suited up in Lantz Arena in more than a month, playing seven straight road games. Coming off five straight losses, the team is eager for some home cooking.
“It’s been pretty long, you know, just traveling a lot and not being able to play on your home court, that’s an advantage for you,” Eastern Illinois junior guard George Dixon said.
“It wares on you, just being seven on the road is a crazy thing,” Eastern Illinois head coach Jay Spoonhour said. “Some of it is my fault, for the way that our non-conference ended but starting the league with four on the road is a tough thing.”
Eastern hosts Jacksonville State Thursday night at 7:30, the Gamecocks are 7-10 overall and 2-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The game will follow the EIU women’s basketball game, also against Jacksonville St. The Panthers (9-6, 3-1 OVC) are off to their best start since 2012-13, the last time the program had a winning record. Third year head coach Matt Bollant is optimistic his team is finally turning the corner after spending the last two seasons rebuilding.
“We haven’t been as talented as we need to be and each year we’ve added a little more talent and grown up a little bit,” Bollant said. “We just kind of weathered the storm the first two years, and we had good kids, so it made it fun to be around them, we just weren’t good enough to win basketball games. Now we’re in the ballpark.”
The EIU women’s game starts Thursday night at 5:15 p.m.