The Colonels (15-4, 9-3 OVC) passed the first test on a rather daunting 14-day, seven-game road swing.

The next challenge, however, will be more difficult.

EKU is set to take on first-place Belmont (20-1, 14-0) today in Nashville.

Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.

"It's going to be a tough game, but it is a huge opportunity for us," EKU coach A.W. Hamilton said playing Belmont. "We are excited about it. They have a great team."

The Colonels snapped a two-game skid with a hard-fought 78-74 win over SIU-Edwardsville on Monday in Illinois. EKU had a 13-point lead in the second half, but needed late free throws to secure the program's first victory on the road over the Cougars in 10 years.

All five starters scored in double-figures on Monday, led by Wendell Green Jr., (18 points), who was named the OVC Freshman of the Week on Monday for the fourth time this season.

Tre King had 12 points, while Michael Moreno, Cooper Robb and Curt Lewis had 10 points each.

The Colonels made 20-of-24 free throws, including an 8-of-10 performance by King.

"This was a good win for us. We needed a win," Hamilton said. "I thought we got great balance on the offensive end and we made free throws down the stretch. That's what good teams do."

Cheikh Faye returned to the line-up for EKU on Thursday.

The Colonels, however, are still short-handed as they continue on their long road trip.

Jomaru Brown is out for the season after shoulder surgery, Russhard Cruickshank has missed several games with an injury and West Virginia transfer Brandon Knapper has left the team for personal reasons.

Green Jr. leads all freshmen in the country with 105 assists. Moreno now leads the OVC in three-point field goal percentage (50) and three-point field goals-per-game (2.8) during OVC play.

EKU ranks in the top-25 in the NCAA in 10 categories -- including first in steals-per-game (11.2), second in turnover margin (+7.2), second in turnovers forced-per-game (20.2), 12th in scoring (82.6) and 22nd in three-pointers-per-game (9.8).

Belmont won last year's Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title, but was picked to finish third in the league's 2021 preseason poll.

The Bruins, however, have far surpassed those expectations.

Belmont has won 17-straight games since a loss to Samford on Dec. 5 at home.

The Bruins have been dominant against OVC competition this season. They are out-scoring league opponents by 18.9 points a game, while leading the conference in scoring offense (83.4 points), field goal percentage (51.4), three-point field goal percentage (36.5), assists (18.5 a game) and assist-to-turnover margin (1.6).

Belmont has won 32 of its past 33 OVC games, including 26-straight.

The Bruins have five players in the top 30 in scoring in the league. Junior Nick Muszynski is averaging 15.1 points a game, while Luke Smith (13.5), JaCobi Wood (12.3), Ben Sheppard (10.6) and Grayson Murphy (10.5) are all in double-figures a game.

Murphy leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.0), he also second in field goal percentage (63.2) and assists (5.1 a game) and fourth in the league in rebounding (7.5 a game).

Bell and Murphy are tied for the OVC lead in steals a game (2.3)

"Murphy is a great player. Muszynski can play at any level," Hamilton said. "They've got a great team. They've got a great system."

EKU has lost 10-straight to Belmont, including a 60-50 setback in the semifinals of last year's OVC Tournament.

The Bruins lead the all-time series with the Colonels, 16-5.

EKU's last win over Belmont was on Feb. 6, 2016 in Nashville.

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