The Colonels (8-6) will begin a new era on Tuesday at McBrayer Arena when they face Central Arkansas (3-10).
EKU, however, might be without several key players for the school's first-ever ASUN Conference game.
Seniors Braxton Beverly and Jannson Williams, along with redshirt freshman Curt Lewis, did not play in a win over Alice Lloyd last week because of health and safety protocols — and their status for the league opener is still uncertain.
"There's a possibility all three of those guys could be out," EKU coach A.W. Hamilton said of Monday afternoon. "We won't know until Tuesday. If we are, we are. We've built this team with great depth. Everyone on our roster can play."
The match-up with Central Arkansas is set for 7 p.m.
The broadcast will be available on ESPN+.
It will be the first-ever meeting between the new ASUN rivals.
EKU wrapped up the non-conference portion of the schedule last Friday with a third-straight victory. Devontae Blanton had a career-high 29 points and 14 rebounds in a 106-52 victory at home over Alice Lloyd. The Colonels trailed 17-4 early, but used a 22-0 run to take control.
On Monday, Blanton was named the ASUN Player of the Week. The freshman was 13-of-19 from the field against Alice Lloyd as he posted his second career double-double.
"It was a great game for us," Hamilton said of Friday's win. "We got down, we went on a huge run — and it took everybody. Dashawn Jackson was tremendous. Jomaru Brown came in and got eight assists."
The Colonels are fourth in the nation in four statistical categories — steals (162), steals per game (11.57), turnovers forced a game (19.64) and turnover margin (+6.71).
The three players who missed Friday's game, though, have been a big reason for EKU's success so far this season.
Williams leads the team in scoring (11.9 points a game), rebounding (6.0 a game) and blocks (25). Beverly is fifth on the team in scoring (10.1 ppg), second in assists (40) and fourth in steals (24) and Lewis is averaging 8.4 points a game and fourth in rebounds (67) and fifth in three-pointers made (21).
"This is how college basketball is right now," Hamilton said. "Every team in the country is facing this kind of adversity. We've just got to find a way to overcome it and win the game."
With three steals against Alice Lloyd, Brown cracked EKU’s career top-10 for steals. He is now tied with Michael Haney (2001-05) and Isaac McGlone (2013-17) for seventh all-time with 154. Brown leads the ASUN Conference with 2.00 steals per game.
Central Arkansas is 0-8 on the road. The Bears only wins of the season were against Oral Roberts (70-67), Hendrix (90-56) and Champion Christian (119-47).
Jared Chatham had a team-best 18 points in Friday’s win over Champion Christian. Camren Hunter added 17 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
As a team this season, Central Arkansas is averaging 69.8 points per game and allowing 81.8. Only four teams in the nation are allowing more points per game. The Bears’ opponents are shooting 47 percent from the field.
UCA averages 7.2 steals per game.
Darious Hall, a 6-foot-7 junior forward who has played at Arkansas and DePaul, leads the team in scoring (12.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg). He has hit on 49 percent of his shots from the field.
Hunter, a 6-foot-3 freshman guard, is second on the team in scoring (12.4 ppg) and rebounding (4.6 rpg) while leading the team in assists (2.7 apg) and steals (1.7 spg).