As far as non-conference wins go, this is about as big as they get. Especially when that team is 1-9.
Austin Peay won their first ever game against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, 74-70 in Knoxville.
So how did the Governors pull it off? Here’s what I saw:
59% Shooting: I’ll start with the most obvious, Austin Peay hit shots, something we’re not accustomed to seeing from the Governors this season. 26-44 from the field, 5-8 from 3-point range. Unlike the Volunteers, who spent a huge portion of the game trying to shoot over Austin Peay’s 2-3 zone, the Governors drove the lane, and were either able to put up solid shots, or kick it to a player on the baseline or back out for good mid-range jumpers. The Governors ran their offense all game long. Tennessee looked like they had never encountered zone defense before, and never got into theirs.
2nd Half Rebounding: In the first half, the Volunteers had a 14-2 advantage on the offensive glass. They only pulled down 4 offensive rebounds in the 2nd? What changed? Blame Tennessee’s 3-point shooting for one, which left longer rebounds, taking Tennessee’s size advantage out of the equation. Also, Austin Peay played a tighter 2-3 zone in the second, and wern’t stepping out on as many shooters, due to Tennessee’s, again, 3-point shooting woes. That left more players in better position for rebounds.
Free Throw Shooting: Anyone watching this game saw that the Volunteers had a huge size advantage: it’s the reason they had such a edge on offensive rebounds in the first half. But with just 12 minutes to go in the second half, it was Austin Peay, not Tennessee, to be the first team to get into the bonus. Go back to what I said about driving the basketball. Austin Peay was able to draw fouls by driving the lane. You don’t draw many fouls when you’re shooting over the offense. In the end, Austin Peay had a 22-16 adavantage in free throw shots. They hit 17 of their 22. Tennessee hit just 9 of their 16.
End of Game Play: When Austin Peay needed a big basket, they gave the ball toTyshwan Edmondson, and he delivered on a beautiful drive and floater in the lane to put the Governors up 3 with less than 20 seconds to go. How did Tennesse respond? After calling a timeout with 12 seconds remaining, they make just one pass, and take a contested 3-pointer at the top of the key, 24 feet from the basket. What was the play call there supposed to be?
John Fraley: His return was big for the Governors today, but not just for his play. Having another playmaker freed some of the pressure off of Edmondson, whose offensive output has suffered since Fraley’s injury. But how much do you really think the Vols prepared for Fraley? There’s no tape from this season, except for a partial game against Middle Tennessee State to watch Fraley, and most people (myself included) didn’t even really know he was returning until close to gametime today. He couldn’t have come back at a better time for the Governors.