1. After what was a rebuilding year last season for the Eastern Kentucky Colonels, they did lose two of their top three players, with leading-scorer Nick Mayo now playing professionally in Japan and Tay Weaver grad-transferring to St. Louis. Unfortunately, they lost another starter, when returner Kelvin Robinson was arrested in August for first-degree wanton endangerment and no operator’s license. While it isn’t clear the result of the arrest, Robinson is no longer listed on the Eastern Kentucky roster. With that being said, EKU now returns two starters from last year’s team, in Jomaru Brown and Tre King, to go along with Houston King, who started 14 games last season. Brown averaged 14.4 points and hit 33% of his threes last season, Tre King averaged 6 points and 4.4 rebounds, and Houston King averaged 5.3 points, hitting 42.7% of his shots from deep.
2. Similar to Kentucky, the Colonels are 1-0 on the season, winning their first match up on Tuesday night against Chattanooga. Eastern Kentucky knocked off the Mocs by the score of 79-68, behind 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks from Darius Hicks. EKU also had big games from Houston King with 19 points and Jomaru Brown with 14 points. Eastern Kentucky forced 20 turnovers, but committed 24 turnovers themselves. Prior to the win over Chattanooga, Eastern Kentucky won their exhibition game over Berea College, 113 to 63. The Colonels racked up 18 steals and forced 25 total turnovers in that game, while Jomaru Brown and Lachlan Anderson chipped in 19 points a piece.
3. As with most of the smaller schools that Kentucky will face this year, Eastern Kentucky faces a rather large height advantage in comparison to UK’s roster. The starting lineup for EKU stands at 6’2″, 6’3″, 6’4″, 6’8″, and 6’8″, meaning Kentucky will have a size advantage at four of the five positions to start, as well as throughout the majority of the game. Outside of starting forwards Darius Hicks and Tre King, the Colonels have three forwards on the bench. Senior Lachlan Anderson is 6’9″ played just 16 minutes per game last season, but played 27 minutes off the bench in EKU’s first game of the season. Freshman from Scott County, Michael Moreno stands at 6’7″, but played just 3 minutes against Chattanooga, while freshman Tariq Bologun from London, England didn’t check in against Chattanooga, but measures in at 6’10”.
4. Head Coach, entering his second season for the Colonels, is Scott County High School product, A.W. Hamilton. The former Hargrave Military Academy coach struggled in his first season in Richmond, to the tune of a 13-18 record. Despite the struggles, Hamilton revitalized an energy in the program that had been missing for some time. His first game coached at EKU drew their largest crowd in more than a decade, and they eclipsed that number for a game against Murray State later in the season. The Colonels were second in the conference in home attendance, coming in just behind the Ja Morant show at Murray State. Hamilton’s style of coaching is often dubbed “The Most Exciting 40 Minutes in Sports”, as the Colonels typically press for all 40 minutes and play extremely up-tempo on the offensive side as well. Last season, EKU was the 13th highest scoring team in the country, as well as second in the country in both steals and turnovers forced per game. In one game, they scored a conference record 87 points in a single half, and broke the Eastern Kentucky record for total points in a game, finishing with 145 points.
5. Tonight will be just the twelfth time that the University of Kentucky has faced off against Eastern Kentucky, and all twelve have been since 1990. Not surprisingly, Kentucky has won the first eleven meetings by an average margin of 21.5 points. Tonight will actually be the earliest in the season that Kentucky has ever played against EKU, with most match ups coming more than a month into the season. After a big win on Tuesday over the top team in the nation, it will be interesting to see if there is any hangover lingering into tonight’s game for the Wildcats. The Colonels are 29-point underdogs tonight, for those that are the betting type and are heading over to Indiana to take advantage of the sports book over there. The Cats should take the W easily, covering a 29 points spread is still not easy. For reference, last year’s Kentucky team only won two regular season games by 30 or more points.
Go Cats. Beat Colonels.