Belmont, SIUE start OVC play

Belmont (10-3, 0-0) vs. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (6-7, 0-0)

Sam M. Vadalabene Center, Edwardsville, Illinois; Thursday, 8:30 p.m. EST

BOTTOM LINE: Southern Illinois-Edwardsville hosts Belmont as conference play starts for both teams. In conference play last season, Belmont finished with 18 wins and two losses, while Southern Illinois-Edwardsville won seven games and lost 12.

LEADING THE WAY: Ray’Sean Taylor is averaging 17.5 points and 5.2 rebounds to lead the charge for the Cougars. Shaun Doss Jr. is also a key contributor, putting up 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. The Bruins are led by Ben Sheppard, who is averaging 16.1 points.SHEPPARD CAN SHOOT: Sheppard has connected on 35.8 percent of the 81 3-pointers he’s attempted and has made 12 of 28 over his last five games. He’s also made 65.1 percent of his foul shots this season.

SLIPPING AT 67: Southern Illinois-Edwardsville is 0-7 this year when it allows 67 points or more and 6-0 when holding opponents to fewer than 67.

UNDEFEATED WHEN: The Cougars are 6-0 when they hold opposing teams to 66 points or fewer and 0-7 when opponents exceed 66 points. The Bruins are 7-0 when recording at least eight offensive rebounds and 3-3 when they fall short of that total.

SECOND CHANCES: Southern Illinois-Edwardsville has posted an excellent offensive rebound percentage of 36.3 percent this year. That rate is the 21st-highest in Division 1. The offensive rebound percentage for Belmont stands at just 26 percent (ranked 260th).

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