By Cameron Blair
Winning on the road in college basketball is not easy. Winning on the road at Cameron Indoor Stadium has proven to be nearly impossible.Eastern’s men’s basketball team will try to accomplish this Saturday when it begins a three-game road trip that will take it to Durham, N.C. to face Duke and to Birmingham, Ala. to face UAB.
Although the Duke game will conclude the trip on Nov. 25, it is the biggest game for the Colonels as far as national exposure is concerned. The game will appear nationally on Fox Sports South.
Eastern will be joining a small club if it is able to pull off the upset against the Blue Devils. Dating back to the 2004-05 season, Duke is 43-6 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
But four of those six losses came last season. And the Blue Devils have been vulnerable to upsets lately. They were ousted in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season by VCU and were bounced from the ACC Tournament in the first round by N.C. State.
To beat Duke, the Colonels will need to contain sophomore Jon Scheyer, who is averaging 17.5 points per game on the young season. The Blue Devils are 2-0 this season, with a combined margin of victory of 90 points in those two wins against North Carolina Central and New Mexico State.
While UAB does not have Duke’s rich history, the Colonels will face a strong opponent Nov. 21 when they take on the Blazers. UAB has made the NCAA Tournament in two of the past three seasons.
The Blazers lost to Arizona in the second round of the 2004-05 NCAA Tournament and fell to UK in the first round of the 2005-06 NCAA Tournament. However, UAB failed to make the tournament last season, and it fell to Marshall in the first round of the Conference-USA Tournament.
But the Blazers are reloaded this season. UAB’s recruiting class for this season was ranked ninth best in the nation, according to collegehoopsupdate.com.
The Colonels will need to keep junior Robert Vaden in check to be able to come away with a win. Vaden leads the Blazers in points per game (22.5) and 3-point percentage (61.1 percent).
Like Duke, UAB is also 2-0 on the young season.
The Colonels will kick off their trip Saturday against East Tennessee State. The Buccaneers are coming off a season in which they also reached postseason play.
East Tennessee State won 25 games last season and received an at-large bid to the NIT Tournament. The Buccaneers fell to Clemson in the first round of the NIT last season.
The Buccaneers were one win away from making the NCAA Tournament last season. They fell to Belmont in the final of the Sun Conference Tournament last season.