Austin Peay, on the other hand, did not. The preseason OVC favorites (not mine, mind you. I picked them 4th during the summer, and you all called me crazy) have reminded all of us once again why we call it “Death Valley” as the Governors are 0-2 to start conference play.
Here’s today’s Final Word:
The Governors will have a week to think about it before facing ranked rivals Murray State back in Clarksville. If Austin Peay falls to 0-3, you can all but kiss a regular season title goodbye.
Except for the first and last 5 minutes, Austin Peay played like the better team with one exception: They didn’t hit shots. The Governors continue to be woeful from 3-point range, shooting just 2-12 today. They were great at the free throw line, a place they found themselves often thanks to whistle-happy officiating.
But a big reason for the late collapse: Only 7 players played significant minutes. That’s it. Even if your team is well conditioned, playing two games in 3 days on the road, you need more depth than that. The Governors made bad plays down the stretch, including an ill-advised shot by TyShwan Edmondson that would have given the Governors the lead in the last 2 minutes. He finished with just 7 points, and it’s looking clear that he may have just been a one year wonder.
The status of Terrance Hill could be a concern for the Eagles. Hill went down hard late in the game on a pass that led to the final lead change of the game. He will have an MRI on his knee tomorrow, a knee that was already wrapped up before today’s game. If he’s out for a significant amount of time, the Eagles will likely struggle to replace his team-leading 13 points a game.
In a classic “tale of two halves” game, the Colonels led 41-17 at the break, before TSU tried to take over in the second half and make this a game down the stretch. Time ran out on the Tigers comeback tho, and the Colonels improve to 3-0 in the OVC heading into the CFSB Center Wednesday to face Murray State.
Much was made of Kenny Moore‘s suspension but his return flew under the radar, and for good reason. In two games back, Moore has scored a total of 9 points for the Tigers. Today, he hit just 1-5 from the field for a Tigers team that finished 37% from the floor. In fact, while 3 starters scored in double digits, they did so on 16-42 shooting.
I can’t say enough about the play of Jaron Jones lately, and he impressed again today, scoring 24 points on 9-12 shooting. He also continues to get to the line, shooting 39 free throws over the Colonels last 4 games. (He’s hit 29 of them) The Colonels gave up a lot of offensive rebounds, and as a result shot 20 fewer field goals the the Tigers, but had a great shooting night, hitting 53% from the field.
I’m not shocked they beat the Gamecocks. I picked this game weeks back as the best chance for the Cougars to get a win. But I am shocked how. SIUE was 1-2 from 3-point range in the first half. That’s it, and that’s exactly what I expected JSU’s defense to do to the Cougars.
They finished 6-9 behind the arc: their second straight game hitting better than 55% from deep. That, against a defense that was barely allowing 30% from 3-point range this season.
It’s a shame that SIUE can’t make the OVC tournament. Because it’s looking more and more like they might finish in the top 8 in the OVC. That being said, I still want to see the Cougars win when they’re not lights out from behind the arc.
For Jacksonville State, it’s another loss on the road, another 2nd half lead blown, and another game in which their offense simply let the down. You’re not going to win many games hitting 37% from the field, and 3-22 from behind the arc. I don’t care if you win the turnover battle 17-8, or win the rebounding battle thanks to 18 offensive rebounds. If you can’t score, you can’t win. Defense may win championships, but no one in the modern era ever won a game 2-0.
[Tennessee Tech 85, UT Martin 62] Recap
Tennessee Tech fans will probably not be thrilled with my recap, or when I said on Twitter they’d make a good track team but weren’t great at basketball. And yes, I was kind of harsh on a team that just won by 23 points on the road.
So I’ll spend some time here singing some praises that might have gotten left out of the recap: Jud Dillard and Kevin Murphy had great games. (As happens more often than not) Zac Swansey dished out 12 assists and controlled the teams offense, (as happens more often than not) and as a team the Golden Eagles were great from the free throw line. (As happens more often than not)
And this may be the Golden Eagles strength. Doing what they usually do, they win by 23 on the road. The problem? When they don’t, they lose by 15 to SIU Edwardsville. I get you want to play the game your way, but to be a great team, you have to be able to win when you can’t control the game. TTU hasn’t shown they can do that.
For UTM, Myles Taylor is my pick for freshman of the year 2011 edition. 26 points tonight, (although only 4 rebounds, not what you want to see from your big man) and it’s clear that he is key to Martin’s success on the offensive end of the basketball.
And although I’ve said it approximately 4,218 times this year, I’ll go ahead and say it again: This is a young, young, young basketball team. Any time the top two scorers are a freshman and sophomore in a mid-major conference, that usually spells trouble for your basketball team.