Preview: Red Devils Hit the Road Saturday For MacMurray

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. -- Following a six-game November in which the Red Devils won five games and hit the century mark in scoring four times for the first time in program history, the Eureka College men's basketball team will play its first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference road game of the 2017-18 season on Saturday in a 3 p.m. bout with longtime rival MacMurray in Jacksonville, Ill.

PDF Version of Eureka Men's Basketball Game Notes

ABOUT EUREKA
Eureka is 5-1 through its first six games for the second consecutive season. The last two season's starts are the Red Devils' best since beginning the their 1993-94 national title season with the same 5-1 mark. Eureka has won four in a row for the first time since November of last season and has gone over 100 points four times in the month of November for the first time in history of the program. EC's team scoring average of 104.5 points per game ranks sixth in the country according to the latest statistical update from the NCAA.
 
Shea Feehan leads the SLIAC in scoring with 33.5 points per game. It's been a banner month for the Peoria Notre Dame graduate, who became the 23rd player in program history to score 1,000 points, broke the Red Devils' single-game scoring record and collected both of the SLIAC's first two Player of the Week awards.
 
Hank Thomas pours in 19.5 points per game and is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range. He'll enter Saturday's game with 686 points for his 55-game career. Alex Wiegand has put up double-doubles in three of his last four outings and emerged as the Red Devils' top rebounder with 7.3 boards per game. He is also scoring 8.2 points per contest and shooting 66 percent from the field.
 
The Red Devils are in their 40th season as a member of NCAA Division III and their 11th season as a member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Eureka returns three starters, all juniors, from last season's 13-win team that broke the program's single-season record for team scoring with 90.5 points per game. In all, EC returns 18 letterwinners from last season.
 
RED DEVILS HANDLE GREENVILLE IN SLIAC OPENER
Seven Red Devils scored in double figures, including a game-high 34 points from Shea Feehan, and Alex Wiegand hauled down a career-high 14 rebounds as Eureka handled defending SLIAC champion Greenville Wednesday in a 131-109 league win at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.
 
Eureka led by 16 at halftime. The Red Devils exploded out of the gate with a 15-0 run to start the second half for a 78-47 lead – their largest of the night -- and weren't challenged again. Greenville clawed within 17 with a layup in the final five minutes, but Wiegand answered with an interior bucket and EC coasted to 1-0 in the SLIAC.
 
The Red Devils shot 58 percent for the game. All five starters reached double figures and shot at least 50 percent from the floor. Hank Thomas followed Feehan with 28 points. Austin Juergens tallied 12 points eight eight assists and Ryan McElmurry poured in 11. Eureka made the Panthers pay at the free throw line, going 28-for-36 for the game, and outrebounded the visitors 64-51. EC outscored GU in the paint, 82-40.
 
WILDE MOVES UP A SPOT
With Wednesday's win over Greenville, 11th-year head coach Chip Wilde moved in front of Eureka Hall of Famer Ralph McKinzie for third place on the Red Devils' all-time wins list. Wilde has won 122 games on the Eureka sideline since his arrival in 2007.
 
Wilde now trails only former head coaches on the list, both members of the Eureka Hall of Fame. Eureka icon Dave Darnall is the all-time leader with 383 wins during a 20-year tenure from 1974 through 1994. His final win was the most notable in the history of the institution, a 98-95 victory over Northern State (S.D.) in the 1994 NAIA Division II national title game. Another EC legend ranks second, Leo "Doc" Traister, who won 168 games for the Red Devils between 1957 and 1974.
 
ABOUT MacMURRAY
The Highlanders are 1-3 overall this season and 0-1 in the SLIAC after losing 88-82 at Blackburn on Wednesday in Carlinville. MacMurray has also lost non-conference games to Monmouth (75-57) and Augustana (89-57) and earned its lone win of the campaign over NCCAA Central Christian (Mo.), 97-76, on Nov. 18.
 
Brent Long, a senior forward from Franklin, Ill., leads the Highlanders and ranks fifth in the league with 20.5 points per game. He is shooting 63 percent from the floor, 77 percent from the free throw line and also leads his team with 6.3 rebounds per contest.  Senior guard Michael Cameron adds 15.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. MC averages 73.3 points per game and is the league's best free throw shooting team at 81 percent.
 
MacMurray, less than a year removed from a ninth-place SLIAC finish with a 4-14 league record, moved up the ladder to be picked second in the league's preseason coaches' poll and received four first-place votes.
 
A charter member of the SLIAC, MacMurray has won or shared five SLIAC regular-season championships. The Highlanders won the SLIAC Tournament in 1993 and again in 1999. 
 
THE SERIES VERSUS MacMURRAY
Eureka and MacMurray will meet for the 54th time since 1974 on Saturday. The Highlanders lead the series in that time frame, 27-26, and own a 16-9 record against the Red Devils in games played in Jacksonville.
 
Since becoming SLIAC rivals in 2006, MacMurray has won 15 of 22 regular-season games. The two squads have met twice in the SLIAC Tournament semifinals. Eureka won both contests, a 95-81 victory in 2007 and a 98-78 triumph in 2010.
 
MacMurray won both of last season's matchups, including a 77-76 victory in Jacksonville on Jan. 7, 2017. Eureka overcame a 13-point deficit and held a lead in the final two minutes, but Brent Long's offensive rebound and putback with 12 seconds left lifted MC to the victory.
 
MEET THE HEAD COACHES
The owner of more than two decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde will enter his 11th season as head coach at Eureka in 2017-18. The upcoming campaign marks Wilde's 20th season as a collegiate basketball head coach.
 
Wilde has proved to be one of the most successful head coaches in the storied history of Eureka men's basketball, establishing the Red Devils as a steady presence in the SLIAC both on the court and in the classroom. Wilde entered the 2017-18 campaign with 117 wins, fourth-most in the 99-year history of the program.
 
Now in his 11th season, Todd Creal owns a 114-146 record as the head coach at MacMurray. The two-time SLIAC Coach of the Year piloted the Highlanders to a share of back-to-back regular-season league titles in 2015 and 2016. MC has also qualified for six SLIAC Tournament semifinals under Creal and a berth in the title game in 2012.
 
Creal is a 1998 graduate of Illinois College. He has previous collegiate coaching experience as an assistant at IC, Augustana and Millikin.