Is it too early to start thinking about March yet? Jacksonville State finally gets a win, over a struggling SEMO team that after a strong conference start is struggling to hold on to the 8th seed in the conference. Road warriors ruled the day, as three of the four road teams pick up wins. The lone home win, Morehead State, who else? And that makes the race for the double-bye in March’s OVC Tournament even more murky, as 2nd place Tennessee State plays victim to the Eagles. And a last second three might have just put the first round bye out of reach for one team, that now might need wins to hold on to their spot in the tournament. It’s going to be a long February in the OVC.
Jax State 65, SEMO 56 (OT)
Usually, an overtime game signals a back-and-forth 40 minutes of basketball. Not so in Cape Giradeau last night, as the Gamecocks never led in regulation, but beat SEMO by 9 in overtime. The win for the Gamecocks is the first in their last 15 games, and the first road win in 20 tries. The first half of this game could easily be described as a bore, with SEMO up 19-11 at halftime. If you think that might be a record, think again…Jax and Samford combined for 28 points in the first half all of 4 years ago, in 2007. Neither team, obviously, shot above 30% in the first half. After winning 4 in a row in the conference, the Redhawks have dropped their last 5, and fell to just half a game ahead of UT Martin for the 8th and final position to make the OVC Tournament. Jax is now 2.5 back of SEMO for 8th.
Tennessee St. 65, Morehead St. 72
Which is more impressive: A team shooting 51 percent from the field, or one player scoring 23 points, and pulling in 23 rebounds? Last night, Kenneth Faried‘s 23-23 led the Eagles to a much needed win over the hot shooting Tigers. Morehead was down 14 in the second half, before closing the game on a 30-9 run in the last 12 1/2 minutes for the win. The double-double for Faried moves him into a tie for 10th all-time in the NCAA with 73 double-doubles in his career. Faried’s 23 rebounds matched the team total for the Tigers, who were outrebounded 42-23. The Eagles hope their home dominance continues when they host league-leading Austin Peay Saturday.
Austin Peay 61, Eastern Kentucky 52
One win down, one to go as the league leading Governors complete the first leg of the Death Valley Road Swing with a 9-point win over EKU. The Colonels shot over 41 percent in the first half to secure a 6 point lead, but let the Govs score 11 unanswered at the start of the second, while shooting just 27 percent in the second half on their way to their 5th conference loss. EKU senior Justin Stommes hit 5-threes in the first half, but limited to just 3 field goal attempts in the second, ending with 18 points. Austin Peay out-rebounded EKU 37-24, the first time the Govs had won the battle of the boards since mid-December. The loss ended EKU’s 4 game win streak.
Tennessee Tech 77, Eastern Illinois 74
The last time these two teams met, Tech’s junior guard Zac Swansey hit a 3-pointer with under 5 seconds to play to lead Tech over EIU. Swansey also hit a game-winning three earlier in the week. See where this is going yet? Last night…Tech’s junior guard Zac Swansey hit a 3-pointer with under 10 seconds to play to lead Tech over EIU. Swansey ended the game with 22 points, hitting six 3’s in the win. Eastern Illinois junior Jeremy Granger led the Panthers with 29, also pulling in 10 rebounds. Although there’s still a lot of season to be played, this win could determine a bye in the OVC Tournament. Tech is now 6-4, tied for 4th and half a game out of 3rd. EIU now falls to 7th, 2 games out of the coveted 4th position, and just one game above 9th place UT Martin.