So much for “Sort-it out Saturday”, eh? Instead of some clarity, the OVC is an absolute free-for-all. 5 teams are within a game of each other for first place, and a lot of them meet in the week ahead. So what did we learn today? I’m not sure, actually, except that there isn’t a dominant team in the entire conference. Morehead is almost impossible to beat at Johnson Arena. Tennessee State may not be as good as their record led us to believe. Jacksonville State might not be DOA after all. Martin is still winless at Murray in 21 tries. And Eastern Illinois or SEMO, or both, may find a way to fall out of the OVC Tournament. It’s going to be a fun February.
Austin Peay 56, Morehead State 69
For the first time in the past 5 meetings, the game didn’t come down to one bucket. And as a result, the OVC is wide open again. The Eagles hold Peay to 35% shooting, 21% from 3-range, leading wire-to-wire in a much needed win over the conference leaders. Another double-double (17 pts, 16 rebounds) for Kenneth Faried as Morehead dominated the battle of the boards 44-25. TyShwan Edmondson, Peay’s leading scorer was limited to 9 points in the loss. A tough week ahead for the league leaders, as they host UT Martin and then revenge minded Murray State next Saturday. The Eagles are back in the race for now, but if they want to stay there, they’ll have to find a way to start winning on the road, as Morehead travels to a suddenly resurgent Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech next week.
Tennessee State 72, Eastern Kentucky 86
Note to the Tigers: If you allow a team to shoot over 61% from the floor, you’re going to lose. Just go ahead and write that one down. EKY Seniors Spencer Perrin and Justin Stommes each scored 22, as EKU pulled away late to send the Tigers to their second straight loss, and more importantly for TSU fans, out of the double-bye, and into a tie for the final single bye in the OVC Tournament. Kenny Moore had 25 for the Tigers in the losing effort. EKU is two back of Austin Peay, which puts them on the outside looking in (to a point). TSU stays just one back. EKU is on the road at Tech and Jax State next week. And if the Tigers are going to rebound from their second straight loss, they’ll have to do it against Murray on Tuesday, or face a 3-game losing streak facing Martin.
Game Recaps: EKU
TSU not available at the time of this post
UT Martin 75, Murray State 92
Murray State hit 11 of 12 3’s in the first half, rolling in their 2nd 90 point effort in their past 3 games. This game was never really in question, as the Racers jumped out to a 20-7 lead early, and that was as close as the game would ever get. Isaiah Cannan led the Racers with 21, making the Racers the last team in the nation this year to have a player score 20 or more in a game. UT Martin remains winless when playing in Murray, having lost all 21 meetings. After the game, Martin coach Jason James gave us the quote of the day:
“A wise man once said you can’t win the game in the first half but you can lose it in the first half and we sure did that tonight.”
Game Recaps: UTM
Murray not available at the time of this post
Tennessee Tech 93, SEMO 86
The Show-Me Center was filled with almost 6,000 fans, but they went home unhappy again as the Redhawks stay precariously perched as the 8th seed after their 6th loss in a row. The Golden Eagles led the entire game, by double digits for part of it, before holding off a late run by SEMO. 4 players scored in double digits for both squads, with SEMO’s Marland Smith leading all scorers with 27. SEMO gets SIU-Edwardsville before taking on Eastern Illinois in a game that may have serious tournament implications, as in helping to determine which team makes it in. Tech may be in a great position for an end of season run, as they host their next 3 games, and 5 of the final 7 conference games.
Jacksonville State 56, Eastern Illinois 46
All of a sudden, the team that was an automatic win for the rest of the conference has won 2 straight, on the road. The first half could be described as offensive struggle, as neither team shot better than 30% from the field. Eastern Illinois turned the ball over twice as much as the Gamecocks (16 to 8) leading to a 16 to 2 disadvantage in points off turnovers. EIU faces SEMO next, and one team’s slide has to stop there. Jacksonville State returns home and will try to make it 3 straight against one of the worst road teams in the OVC: Morehead State.