Preview: Red Devils to Visit Blackburn Saturday in Carlinville

Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.
Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.
EUREKA -- Eureka will look to get back into the win column Saturday in a 3 p.m. St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference bout at Blackburn in Carlinville, Ill. The game with the Beavers is Eureka's final league action before breaking for the holidays.
The Red Devils will be in search of their 41st victory over Blackburn since 1974. Their 40 prior victories over the Beavers are the second-most against any opponent in that time frame.
The Red Devils are 1-8 overall and 0-3 in the SLIAC.
Senior guard Hank Thomas leads a high-scoring offense that produces 91.8 points per game. The Peoria Richwoods grad averages  22.9 points and enters Saturday's contest with 1,210 career points, 106 shy of reaching the Red Devils' all-time top 10 list.
Junior guard Dakota Bennington adds 20.9 points per night and junior guard Austin Juergens adds 13.6 points on average. Juergens also grabs a team-best 7.2 rebounds per game, followed by senior forward Alex Wiegand and Bennington with 5.9 boards per game.
Eureka returns 10 letterwinners and four players that started at least five games from last season's team that went 18-8 overall and finished as the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference runner-up with a 13-5 league record. The Red Devils will welcome nearly a dozen newcomers to the 2018-19 roster, seven of which will have freshman eligibility.
Westminster knocked down 14 3-pointers en route to an 88-72 SLIAC victory over Eureka last Saturday afternoon at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center. Hank Thomas netted 21 points for the Red Devils, one of three starters to score in double figures.
Thomas was perfect in eight trips to the free throw line and handed out seven assists. Austin Juergens registered 15 points and Jordan Dehm narrowly missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Blackburn owns a 3-4 overall record and shares sixth place in the early-season SLIAC standings with MacMurray with a 1-2 league mark. The Beavers opened the season with 123-118 win over the St. Louis College of Pharmacy on Nov. 8, won in non-conference action at Elmhurst, 81-77 on Nov. 20, and notched their first conference triumph in a 73-62 win over Westminster on Dec.  1.
The Beavers score at a frantic pace, one of three SLIAC schools to average more than 90 points per game at 91.9. Junior guard Karson Hayes leads the group with 21.7 points on average, including a 48 percent effort from 3-point range.
Senior guard Duncan King follows with 15.7 points per game and is also a valuable weapon from beyond the arc with a percentage of 53.3. Junior Raushaun Amos adds 11.3 points per contest.
The Beavers' top rebounder is senior forward Jamaya Wyatt with 6.6 boards per contest. BC ranks second in the league with 10.3 steals per game, but commits a SLIAC-worst 20.9 turnover per contest.­
The Red Devils are 40-19 against the Beavers since 1974, including a 19-6 mark since becoming SLIAC foes prior to the 2006-07 campaign. Eureka will aim to end a two-game skid in Carlinville and earn its first win in Dawes Gymnasium since a 67-50 victory on Feb. 17, 2016.
Blackburn won two of three contests from the Red Devils last season. Hank Thomas scored a game-high 18 points in Eureka's 78-61 loss to the Beavers in Carlinville on Dec. 9, 2017. The Red Devils evened the score in a big way last Jan. 27 in a 103-76 rout at the Reagan Athletic Complex. Thomas netted 21 points, Dakota Bennington tallied 13 and Alex Wiegand scored 11. Bennington dunked a Hank Thomas lob in the second half that was featured on ESPN2's "College Basketball Live" later that night.
The Beavers won the rubber game in the semifinals of the SLIAC Tournament last Feb. 22, an 86-80 decision in overtime in Greenville, Ill. Hank Thomas scored 12 points to become the 24th player in program history to reach 1,000 career point and Jordan Dehm had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The owner of nearly three decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde is in his 12th season as head coach of the Eureka College men's basketball team in 2018-19. The current campaign marks Wilde's 21st 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 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference both on the court and in the classroom. Wilde entered the 2018-19 campaign with 135 wins, fourth-most in the century-long history of the program.
The 2018-19 season is Steve Kollar's fourth as head coach at Blackburn. He was the SLIAC Co-Coach of the Year in 2017-18 after leading the Beavers to their first SLIAC Tournament berth since 2006 and their first championship game appearance since 2005.
Kollar is a 2005 graduate of Elmhurst where he played for Eureka College Hall of Famer Mark Scherer. Kollar owns prior coaching experience as an assistant at St. Francis (Ill.) and Benedictine.
Blackburn will provide a live online video broadcast and of Saturday's game. Links will be available at, and Live stats will not be available.