Red Wolves take on Eagles, Roos

Arkansas State’s Caleb Fields drives toward the basket during the Red Wolves’ season opener against Harding. ASU hosts Morehead State tonight and Kansas City on Sunday.

JONESBORO — Teams from the Ohio Valley Conference and Summit League will join Arkansas State at First National Bank Arena this weekend for the Eracism Invitational.

ASU will play Morehead State tonight at 7 in a matchup of teams featuring the preseason player of the year in their respective leagues, Norchad Omier for the Red Wolves and Johni Broome for the Eagles. The Red Wolves play Kansas City on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Morehead State and Kansas City play Saturday at 6 p.m.

ASU men’s basketball coach Mike Balado said College Insider, which runs a postseason tournament in addition to producing a website, polls and awards, did all the planning for the multi-team event.

“They’re the ones who put this together and they wanted to do it in Jonesboro because they think First National Bank Arena is a great venue, and it’s also pretty close to the schools coming in here,” Balado said. “They wanted to get regional schools as close as possible. They did everything.”

ASU (3-1) visited Morehead State last year, falling 69-61 in its second game of the season. The Eagles went on to win the OVC tournament, upsetting top seed Belmont in the finals, and lost 84-67 to West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to finish 23-8.

Broome, a 6-10 forward, scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against ASU in his third college game. Omier, a 6-7 forward, made his ASU debut after traveling to join the team on game day, contributing five points and six rebounds off the bench.

Both went on to enjoy a banner freshman season. Omier averaged 12.6 points and 12.3 rebounds for ASU, while Broome put up 13.8 points and nine rebounds per game for Morehead State.

Broome averaged 12.8 points and 10 rebounds through this season’s first five games for the Eagles (2-3).

“He came on the scene last year, very similar to the kind of year Norchad had.

“He had a really good season, surprised a lot of people as a freshman, was named freshman of the year (in the OVC) and was first-team league,” Balado said. “He’s a dominant player inside, a lefty, very good hands, has really good skill and rebounds the ball extremely well. We’re going to have to do a good job on him on the interior.”

Morehead State has beaten a couple of non-Division I teams while losing to Auburn, UAB and Mississippi State. Guards Tray Hollowell and Skyelar Potter are averaging 10.6 and 10.4 points, respectively.

Balado said the Eagles like to control the tempo.

“They don’t play very fast. They will push the ball in transition off misses every once in a while, but their coach really does a good job of organizing everything they run,” Balado said. “They run a ton of sets. It’s not going to be something our guys will be able to memorize in a week, because they do it every day, Morehead does. You’re really stressing the main four actions they run and it all ends up in having the ball in Broome’s hands, but they also have really good guards.”

While Balado said he will turn his focus to Kansas City (3-2) after tonight’s game, he’s taken note of what Roos guard Evan Gilyard II has been doing.

Gilyard, who is the the Summit League Player of the Week, scored 28 points in his team’s 80-66 victory at Missouri. He started this week by scoring a career-high 30 points Monday in his team’s 74-58 victory at Idaho State.

“He shoots at a high clip and has the ultimate green light,” Balado said of Gilyard, who transferred to Kansas City from New Mexico State.

ASU rolled past Southeast Missouri State 72-60 in its most recent game a week ago. Omier scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season, while guard Caleb Fields added 16 points.

The Red Wolves limited Southeast Missouri to 36.2 percent shooting from the field and held a 45-32 rebounding advantage. They committed only 18 fouls after being whistled for 55 in their two previous games combined.

“I thought we did a good job of keeping them off the free throw line and we out-rebounded them,” Balado said. “We were very organized offensively. I think we only took three challenged shots the whole game and we want to keep that under five, and we did that. We got what we wanted and where we needed to get the ball offensively, and I thought defensively it was the best technical team game we’ve played.”

Omier leads ASU with averages of 13.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Desi Sills and Fields are averaging 12.5 and 10.3 points, respectively.