I go away for one road trip, and take a day off to recover, and look what happens.
After 11 straight wins by the home teams, the road team in the OVC have now won 4 of the last 5. So much for that trend.
No intro needed here except for one word: crazyness.
Here’s last night’s Final Word.
[UT Martin 78, Eastern Kentucky 86] There are life in the Skyhawks! Still not a OVC win, but life, something we haven’t seen in awhile.
This has always been the danger with any team that runs a slower-paced offense, that sometimes its hard to build up big leads and put teams away. Despite an 11-point halftime lead, the Skyhawks were able to keep the game close, being down just 4 with 43 seconds to go. Two baskets, and we have overtime.
In OT, the Skyhawks are up 3 late, but a Joshua Jones 3 sent the game to double OT, where Mike Dinunno was able to take over, and lead the Colonels to their 5th OVC win.
What amazes me about this game is how many minutes both teams relied on their starters. 2 Skyhawks and 2 Colonels played 47 minutes (of a possibly 50) or more, with 3 more players playing at least 40. Despite the extra 10 minutes, neither team got a lot of production from the bench, which has to be a little worrisome as we get into the stretch run.
[Tennessee State 55, Eastern Illinois 46] Has anyone else noticed that the Tigers haven’t been on their usual offensive tear lately? At one point this season, the Tigers were averaging 75 points a game; In their last 3 contests, the Tigers have averaged just over 56. And that’s not a criticism, because they’ve won 2 of those three games. Pace wise, this was a slow game by both team’s standards, and I’m not sure which team was the cause without seeing the game.
I said in this week’s Power Rankings that now we’d really see what the Panthers were made of, and this isn’t a great sign. 36% shooting on your home floor against a team that hasn’t been known as a defensive powerhouse isn’t what you like to see. And here’s the thing: turnovers wern’t a major issue, and rebounding was about even, two statistics that can often doom an offense. They just didn’t shoot the ball, or get to the free throw line: just 3 free-throw attempts off of 9 total fouls by Tennessee State. If you’re driving the basketball, that doesn’t happen, no matter the quality of the refs.
[Austin Peay 80, SIU Edwardsville 67] Can I now say I told you so about the Governors? Their first road win of the year, and now the Governors are over .500 in the conference and winners of 4 straight. The conference title might be out of their reach, but the 2-seed in Nashville isn’t.
I think we’re starting to get a different read on SIU Edwardsville. I still think this team is living and dying by the 3-pointer, but whereas early in the season I was overly concerned with the offense, I’m starting to feel that side of the ball is the more solid part of the equation. Because they didn’t shoot the ball poorly, and other than the Tennessee State game, they haven’t shot the ball badly for weeks. But they’ve allowed 2 of the last 3 teams to shoot better than 50% from the field, and haven’t held a team under 40% since Ball State on December 6th.
Tyshwan Edmondson again seemed to be the weak link in the Austin Peay offense, which is disappointing, but when 4 other players score in double digits with mostly great shooting number, you have to be happy. This offense is much different from last years in that they have a lot of players who can consistently score buckets instead of relying on just one or two. That makes them much more dangerous in the long run.
[Jacksonville State 63, Tennessee Tech 62] Oh boy. Where to begin.
First, let me start with the positive, and that this is a great win for the Gamecocks. Their defense kept them in the game like it has for so much of the season, only when they needed a big shot, this time a 3-pointer with under 2 seconds to go from Dion Waiters, they got it to fall. That’s the difference between this game and other close calls for Jacksonville State.
Now to the not so positive. Without telling you any other details, if I were to say that a team lost to Jacksonville State and lost to SIU Edwardsville, what would your opinion of that team be? And would I be able to convince you that they were a serious contender in the conference? Of course not. Now the Golden Eagles are down to 3-3 in the conference, and in the absolute middle of the scramble for the bye’s in the OVC tournament.
And once again, Kevin Murphy is absent. Just like he was in the Golden Eagles loss against SIU Edwardsville. (Although, to be honest, he didn’t shoot nearly as bad. He also didn’t take near as many shots.
I would love an answer to this from TTU fans: Are the Golden Eagles simply playing down to their opponents? Because that’s the only logical explanation I can fathom. They played Murray State amazingly in front of over 8-thousand hostile fans. In front of 2,400 mostly friendly fans, they lose to Jacksonville State. But, again to the Gamecocks credit, played Murray State close in Murray as well.
To end on the positive, this is the kind of win that could start the Gamecocks on some momentum, and push them back into OVC tournament contention. If they can build off this win, there might be another OVC team sitting this tournament out in March.