Keeping the OVC’s winning streak going could be a challenge today, with today’s three opponents a combined 7-1, and all three games either on the road or on a neutral court.
The biggest game of the day? Easy: Tennessee State vs South Alabama in Atlanta. The Tigers the final winless team in the conference, have struggled to score this year. There’s a point where you can’t keep blaming tough opponents, and we’re already closing in on it for Tennessee State.
And this is off topic from today’s games, but Sean Woods, stop it. Stop poking the bear. Sure it gives your team press, which I’m sure is virtually impossible to do at Morehead. But I just don’t see how comments like this against the University of Kentucky do you current squad, located in the state of Kentucky, any good. I’m going to go out on a limb and say many Morehead fans are probably UK fans as well, so these comments don’t just frustrate their fan base, it does some of yours as well.
Mini-rant over. Here’s today’s First Word:
South Alabama (2-0) vs Tennessee State (0-3)
4:00 p.m. EST
There are 10 teams in the nation currently shooting over 45% from 3-point range as a team. South Alabama is one of those teams. The irony of this: they’re just 34% on shots taken inside the 3-point arc.
You’d be wrong if you assumed they’re shooting percentage came off win against cupcakes; the Jaguars kicked off their season with a 76-71 win at Florida State. Four Jaguars average at least 12 points a game, and they’re led by two forwards: 6’7″ Augustine Rubit almost averaged a double-double last season, and 6’6″ forward Mychal Ammons, who is averaging a double-double this year.
Preseason all-OVC selection Robert Covington has found himself in foul trouble in two of the Tigers three games, which simply can’t happen. He’s averaging just 25 minutes a game for that reason, and your best player simply can’t be on the bench. Kellen Thorton, who shot better than 52% last season, is just 35% this season, and Patrick Miller hitting just 26% of his shots. The Tigers, hitting 32% as a team, are currently the 2nd worst shooting team in the nation.
Southeast Missouri (3-1) vs Louisiana Tech (2-1)
4:30 p.m. EST
Today matchup will be an interesting test of speed versus size, as a very guard heavy Bulldogs squad host a very forward heavy Redhawks.
It’s an especially interesting matchup for the Redhawks guards, who have been inconsistent early this year, though not nearly to the level they were the past. Yesterday’s game against Chattannooga was evidence of the inconsistency, with Corey Wilford scoring 21 points in the second half, after being blanked in the first. On the flip side, the Redhawks again have, arguably, the best frontcourt in the OVC. Nino Johnson has stepped in filling the spot left open by the graduation of Leon Powell well, leading the team in rebounding, and Tyler Stone is even better than last.
Louisiana Tech is also much deeper than the Redhawks: 11 Bulldogs have played in all three of their games. SEMO has played as few as 7 twice this season. They’re lead by a pair of 14 point scorers in Cordarius Johnson and Raheem Appleby, and their leading rebounder is also their top assist man, 6’3″ guard Kenneth Smith.
LA Tech’s only loss came in their opener to Billy Kennedy’s Texas A&M squad.
Jacksonville State (3-1) at Oregon (3-0)
8:00 PST – Pac 12 Network
Oregon football’s perfect season was ended this weekend, is their basketball team next to fall? I usually don’t make predictions here, so instead I’ll call the prospects of an upset “very unlikely”: the Ducks are coming off a 26-point win against Vanderbilt, a team that’s won 20 or more games each of the past three season.
The Ducks score by committee, with 5 players averaging double digit scoring. They also have a pair of 6’11” players who will likely see plenty of minutes tonight against a much smaller Jacksonville State, including senior Tony Woods, one of those double-digit scorers.
With the three point shot being a notable exception, Jacksonville State’s offense has been much improved in the first four games this year compared to last. Senior Ronnie Boggs has scored 10 or more points in every game this year.
Much like the UNLV game, Oregon will look to push the tempo tonight against Jacksonville State, but that wasn’t the biggest issue in that loss. Instead it was rebounding: Jacksonville State more than doubled on the boards. (40-19)