As much as I love traveling to games, It’s making it much harder to get up and get these things done. So thanks for the patience this morning.
There’s playoff football on, so I won’t waste either of our time with a lengthy intro.
Here’s the weekend Final Word:
[Austin Peay 76, Eastern Illinois 64]
We’re finally getting a better look at the Panthers, and it’s not been pretty. The Panthers have now lost 2 straight at home, drop to 2-4 in the OVC, and right now are tied in the win column with Jacksonville State for the the final spot in Nashville.
And as I praised Joey Miller, he scores just 2 points on a 1-10 performance, while Alfonzo McKinnie gets his second double-double of the season. These guys are capable, but inconsistent. The one thing that was consistent with EIU’s loss on Thursday: only drew 13 fouls against the Govs. It got them 12 free throw attempts, much better than Thursday, but still not enough. That happens when you’re a jump shooting team. The other thing that happens, you’re field goal percentage is usually much shorter.
Tyshwan Edmondson ended a drought of sorts with his first game with more than 10 points in exactly a month, leading all scorers with 24. It’s one thing that’s been missing from their offense more so than not this season, as Edmondson is averaging 4 points less a game than a season ago. If he has more nights like Saturday though, this Austin Peay team, now just half a game behind 2nd place SEMO, could return to expected form before the OVC tournament starts in March.
[UT Martin 56, Morehead State 62]
I’m not entirely sure how this game was this close. UTM hits just 38% from the field, 25% from 3-point range, and only 4 more free throws than Morehead, but lose another close game on the Death Valley road trip, and continue their winless OVC campaign.
Mike Liabo, who you will remember was coming off the bench during much of non-conference play, is now playing all 40 minutes. But their top scorer played only 21: Troy King, who came off the bench. King was a starter much of the season last year, and was relegated to the bench with Liabo, but hasn’t made his way back into the starting lineup. It will likely take a few more games like this if he wants to earn that spot back.
The fact that Donnie Tyndall‘s squad is 4-4 this year is remarkable, especially after their leading scorer went down just a few weeks ago. This team is showing a lot of resiliency, and taking advantage of their opportunities. They’ve also slowed down the game, forcing teams to get the most out of every possession. It’s not pretty basketball to watch, but it’s effective.
[SEMO 62 at Tennessee Tech 77]
So a lot of people told me I was wrong when I put SEMO No. 2 in last week’s Power Rankings. I’ll still defend the position, since Power Rankings are a snapshot of what a team is doing now, not what they might do in the future, but believe me, they won’t be No. 2 next week.
But what to do with Tennessee Tech? As a I said in the first word, I expected Tennessee Tech to have a bounce-back game, and did they ever. Kevin Murphy, who has underperformed in both of Tennessee Tech’s “bad” conference losses, hits 10-16 from the field, leading all scorers with 26 points.
As for SEMO, Marcus Brister and Tyler Stone have good offensive performances as expected, but the team as a whole was absent on defense, as the Golden Eagles shot 57% from the field. All season, Dickie Nutt has preached that the defense needs to get better, and clearly it does if SEMO is going to make a run.
[No. 12/10 Murray State 82, at SIU Edwardsville 65]
So despite the score, this was a fun game in a great atmosphere. SIU Edwardsville was the first team since Ivan Aska went down to not double-team Isaiah Canaan and that didn’t work well. I’m not sure there’s a defender in the league that can guard Canaan in man coverage, plain and simple.
The Cougars also provide a conundrum for fast paced teams that play Murray. You want to stay true to your offense, but that means giving the Racers more possessions. The only reason the Racers didn’t score more than 82 is that they slowed down the game over the final 10 minutes as they held on to a 15-20 point lead. Murray State put up 49 in the first half, and probably could have done the same in the 2nd, as poorly as the Cougars defense played.
The Racers took away the Cougars 3-point shooting ability, but as I mention in SIUE’s recap from last night, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. The Cougars were effective inside the paint, and should maybe look inside more as the season goes on.
[Longwood 71, Eastern Kentucky 78]
Why are you playing this game, at home, in the middle of conference play? What do you earn? This is an OVC quality opponent, and you’re in front of your home crowd. I guess this is making up for not playing a home game in November?
Overall, though, this was a great performance by EKU, with free throw shooting being the slight exception. The Colonels hit 58% from the field, but only 53% from the free throw line. Go figure. EKU only attempted 10 shots from behind the arc, which is very low for this team. Jaron Jones continues his campaign as the most improved player in the league this year, with 23 points on 11-14 shooting.
Longwood, on the other hand, attempted 29 threes. They only connected on 8. Despite a 25 point performance from Tristan Carey, the Lancers only shot 40% from the field, and 27% from deep in the loss.