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So I know that Tennessee Tech’s Kevin Murphy has had some down games this year, including one against the very same team that the Golden Eagles played tonight.

He did not have a down game.

Murphy set the all-time Tennessee Tech single-game scoring record in a blowout win of SIU Edwardsville. Not only that, he put up the best single-game performance of any Division I player this season! Murphy finished the game with 50 of TTU’s 98 points in the win, hitting 16-21 from the field. He was 1-16 last time they played the Cougars…

No one topped that performance, but all 3 winners tonight notched solid double-digit wins, including…a team on the road? Is that possible?

It is when the home team is EIU apparently.

Here’s tonight’s Final Word:

[USC Upstate 82, Jacksonville State 77]

A much different game than their first meeting, but it ends with the same result, as USC Upstate sweeps the home-home series with the Gamecocks this year.

Without a doubt, this has to be the worst defensive performance Jacksonville State has had all season. The Spartans hit 64% from the field, 7-9 from deep, and still managed to out rebound the Gamecocks despite just 2 offensive rebounds in the game. The Gamecocks offense didn’t play particularly bad, but it’s rare when the defense doesn’t even give Jacksonville State a reasonable chance at picking up a win. And it wasn’t just one guy scoring on the Gamecocks defense, as 5 Spartans finished in double digits.

On the plus side, seeing Jacksonville State scoring in the high 70’s is reassuring. Somewhat.

[SEMO 74, Eastern Illinois 53]

The Panthers had a 5 point lead at the half. Think SEMO was looking ahead to Thursday…maybe a little? If they were, they sure rebounded nicely in the second half.

Nick Niemczyk missed yet another game, which has me seriously wondering if he’ll be available on Thursday. It might appear that they don’t need him, but his replacement in the starting 5, Lucas Nutt went scoreless, going 0-3 from the field, but he did dish out 3 assists. But in 30 minutes of play, you expect a guard to have slightly more meaningful statistics than that.

The #FIREMIKEMILLER hashtag came back out tonight on Twitter, and I expect to see it often as we go down the stretch. EIU was awful on defense in the 2nd half, and not much better on offense. They were dominated on the boards, didn’t get to the free-throw line, and didn’t hit shots from the field. Pretty much adds up to a 21 point loss. The only positive, they only turned over the ball 9 times. Yeah, it’s not really reassuring, is it?

[Austin Peay 56, Tennessee State 77]

Luke Thompson of the Leaf-Chronicle wrote yesterday that Loos was frustrated with his team’s defense in the first half of games. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s not going to be happy with the 2nd half tonight either…

I said in this week’s Power Rankings that I didn’t feel Tennessee State had a significant win over this recent win streak. They do now. This may have been a home game, but they destroyed a surging Austin Peay team that’s looked like one of the best team in the OVC over the past few weeks. They do it despite only getting 14 foul shots, and only forcing 12 turnovers, and from a sub-standard scoring performance from Robert Covington. That’s a good thing, as we’re starting to see some more depth from the Tigers, something they’ve lacked at times this season.

2-14 from deep is bad. But only 3 assists on the night? 3? It wasn’t that they were turning the ball over on passes (see the paragraph above) they just weren’t passing period. Somebody that was at the game, please explain to me how this happened. And better yet, how does center John Fraley hit 8 shots, and the team have 3 assists? Is he playing point now? Something  just doesn’t add up here. (I keep trying to look for a second stat sheet to just see if the statistics I have are wrong. If they are, please let me know)

[SIU Edwardsville 80, Tennessee Tech 98]

Do you think Kevin Murphy remembered what happened the last time they played. I’m pretty sure he does…

The Cougars actually had 2 good individual performance on their side as well, with Mark Yelovich putting up his 2nd double-double in the past 3 games, and Jerome Jones scoring 25 points. The team shot fairly well, only turned over the ball 9 times, rebounded well. Just forgot about that one guy…

Murphy has been on a tear these past 4 games, and as much as the instinct right now will be to single out Murphy and give him the Isaiah Canaan treatment, that wouldn’t be a great decision in my mind, as Jud Dillard is very capable of having big nights on his own. This kind of game could play mind games with teams down the stretch, especially if he hits a few quick shots in a game. Give a lot of credit to Zac Swansey, who had a season-high 14 assists, many of which to Murphy. If you can’t stop the player from scoring, your next option is to stop the guy from feeding to him. SIUE did neither.

  1. EIU FAN:
    I am one to be very slow at removing a coach but it is obvious that a change is needed at EIU.  I cannot imagine that the AD does not see the need and is already working up a list of potential candidates.  The first impressions of the new football coach are very good, so I am optimistic that the same excitement can be brought by new basketball coach too.  I just wish that the process could start now.   
  2. Luke:
    My first question for Coach Loos tonight referenced what he said Sunday and asked what he saw from the defense. His answer: "None. We were absolutely awful on the defensive end." Sounds about right. It amazed me that the game started with Robert Covington getting two WIDE OPEN looks from 3 (he only made one) and as you alluded to, it only got worse from there. I don't know if they keep this stat, but I'm willing to bet TSU set a season-high for dunks tonight. As for the assists, I suppose they could have given some more on some of Fraley's baskets. But on a lot of them he caught it then took a few dribbles and made a move to the basket, so I can understand why no assists were given. The perimeter passing was pretty much awful, and they simply didn't make a lot of field goals. In the first half APSU forced 2 turnovers and had one offensive rebound (a team rebound, meaning it went out of bounds off TSU) and therefore relied almost completely on its halfcourt offense. That simply isn't going to work for this team.
  3. EIU FAN:
    OK, I have a question.  I don't expect the EIU AD to likely take this route but would it be beneficial to let Miller go right now and assign the assistant (Altadonna) as interim head coach for the rest of the season?  It wouldn't cost EIU anything more (always a consideration) and they could get a jump on hiring a new coach.  They could more easily get a coach hired in mid-March.  The team won't do any worse under Altadonna. 
OVC Ball
Compiling all OVC non-conference games

2016 Football Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 7-0 10-2
UT Martin 6-2 7-5
Tennessee Tech 5-3 5-6
Tennessee State 4-3 7-4
Eastern Illinois 4-4 6-5
Murray State 4-4 4-7
SEMO 3-5 3-8
Eastern Kentucky 2-6 3-8
Austin Peay 0-8 0-11

2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall


Belmont 15-1 23-7
Morehead State 10-6 14-16
Jacksonville State 9-7 20-15
Tennessee State 8-8 17-13
Tennessee Tech 8-8 12-20
Eastern Kentucky 5-11 12-19


UT Martin 10-6 22-13
SEMO 9-7 15-18
Murray State 8-8 16-17
Austin Peay 7-9 11-19
Eastern Illinois 6-10 14-15
SIUE 1-15 6-24