For sure, Saturday's basketball game at Morehead State falls into the "big game" category.
"It's Eastern versus Morehead, so it's like Louisville-Kentucky," Morehead Coach Sean Woods said. "But it's still one game and we've got to go prepare just like we prepare for the rest of them."
Morehead (10-13, 5-3 Ohio Valley Conference) is playing well after a slow start. The Eagles have won their last three games, all on the road. And they did so while center Billy Reader served a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules.
"I think we've created matchup problems, playing small, where guys can't stay in front of us," Woods said. "Then, also, the four guys that I'd been counting on earlier are now starting to play. And that's Angelo Warner, Kareem Storey, Brent Arrington and Corban Collins. And also Karam Mashour."
Warner leads the Eagles in scoring with 12.8 points a game. Mashour scored a career-high 24 points in Wednesday's 82-69 win at Austin Peay, while Storey and Arrington posted their first career double-doubles.
Eastern Kentucky (11-9, 3-4) is coming off an 85-78 overtime defeat Thursday at Murray State. The loss was EKU's third in a row, but Coach Jeff Neubauer is not discouraged.
"I'm very confident that we have a very good basketball team, and we're really looking forward to the next five weeks of basketball," he said. "And most of our games the rest of the way are against teams from our own division, the OVC East. So we have great challenges ahead and we're looking forward to those challenges."
Point guard Corey Walden leads EKU with 19 points a game.
He is among the OVC's top 10 in scoring, field-goal percentage, assists and steals.
"We've got to make sure we keep him in check," Woods said. "He's a very good basketball player. He's one of the best guards in our league."
In his last four games, EKU senior Eric Stutz has averaged 19 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
EKU can't be sure whom it will have to keep in check.
"The thing that's unique right now is that Morehead's been playing differently because of their injuries," Neubauer said. "They've been playing with four small guys and typically they're the biggest team in the league. So we don't know exactly what to expect from them."
Reader will play Saturday, but Woods wasn't letting on if the Eagles will go big with their starting lineup or stay with the smaller lineup that has had success.
Either way, Neubauer has confidence in his Colonels.
"Overall, we're a very good basketball team," he said. "... Recently our defense has not been as good as it was earlier in the season. When we recapture our defensive identity, then our future's going to be something to deal with in the OVC, but we've got to have a super defensive team to make it all work."
The doubleheader will begin with the women at 2 p.m. The men's game, which follows around 4:15 p.m., will be televised by This TV and the CW Lexington.
"I think that is a big deal," Neubauer said of the TV coverage. "That's pretty cool that the Morehead and EKU game is on throughout the eastern part of the state, and that's the way it should be."
"It's a big game, a big rivalry game," Woods said. "It's good for the state and it's good for college basketball."