Sorry for being off the radar most of the day yesterday. I was under the weather and spend a large part of the day asleep. Feeling better today though, and good thing, as there’s a full slate of OVC games on tap on this first day of December.
As we move into the second month of the season, what better time than now to look back at some of the highs and lows so far in the college basketball season.
Best Win: Belmont 70, Stanford 62. The Pac 12 Cardinal held to 31% shooting on their own floor, cough up 17 turnovers in loss to the Bruins.
Worst Loss: Rochester College (NAIA) 59, Eastern Illinois 56. Ugh. Still. Panthers held to 36% shooting against non-Division I Rochester.
Most Boring Overtime Period: The 2nd overtime between UT Martin and Arkansas State. Total field goals made: 0. Total points scored: 0. UT Martin would fall in the third OT.
November MVP: Ed Daniel, Murray State. Isaiah Cannan may be leading the Racers in scoring, but Daniel is averaging a double-double, and is tied for 10th in the nation in rebounding. Without Daniel, I’m not sure the Racers would ever get an offensive board.
Best Newcomer: Glenn Cosey, Eastern Kentucky. The JUCO transfer is averaging over 18 points a game for the undefeated Colonels.
Best Team In November: Belmont. They’re balanced, they’re deep, and they’re playing like it’s February, not November.
Worst Moment: Sean Woods berating Devon Atkinson to the point of near tears.
Poised for a Better December: Tennessee State. The Tigers schedule was brutal in November, and while they travel to Missouri and MTSU in December, there are also 4 very winnable games.
Most likely to slide in December: Eastern Kentucky. Winning 6 straight is hard, regardless the competition. But the Colonels haven’t played a single game on the road, or a game against a top-250 RPI team. We’ll learn a lot more about this team before OVC play begins.
Morehead State (4-3) at Wright State (4-2)
2:00 p.m. EST
This is an interesting challenge for the Eagles on the road. Wright State does have four wins, but has played a weak schedule including winning at Eastern Illinois. But they play half-court basketball, and don’t turn the ball over, which could provide a challenge to Morehead State’s up tempo tendencies.
The issue for Wright State could come at the free throw line. Morehead State isn’t shy about fouling; in fact they lead the nation in most fouls committed per game, but the Raiders shoot just 60.8% from the charity stripe. Even if Wright State doesn’t turn over the ball, and can slow the pace, that could be an absolute killer.
While the Raiders haven’t played the toughest of teams, they’ve stopped the teams they’ve played from scoring. The Raiders defense only gives up 55 points a game, and haven’t allowed an opponent to score 70 since their season opener against Idaho. And they scored exactly 70.
Morehead State is forcing 18 turnovers a game, but that number has been slowly trailing off over the past three games, which isn’t surprising now that teams are seeing more tape on Sean Woods‘ defense. Milton Chavis has been the Eagles spark on both sides of the ball, but has just four steals in the last 3 games, compared to 10 in the three games previous. His scoring hasn’t tailed off, though, as Chavis averages more than 17 points a game, the only Eagles averaging double digits.
Something that’s gone mostly unnoticed given how relatively few free throws the Eagles take compared to their opponents: Morehead State is shooting just 62% from the line on the year.
Eastern Illinois (3-5) at Stony Brook (5-2)
1:00 p.m. CST
There’s nothing about Stony Brook that just jumps out at you as being exceptional, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good. Anything but. Stony Brook led UConn in the second half before a big run put the Huskies in the lead, but even then they couldn’t pull away from the Seawolves, who fell by 11 on the road. They’ll provide a very stiff test for an EIU team coming off a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds against Central Arkansas.
The Panthers offensive struggles have been well chronicled by me this season, and their leader scorer, Josh Piper, is coming off his worst scoring performance of the season. He’s even missed three free throws on the season, now shooting a almost pedestrian 90% for his career. (Please note the sarcasm) The 6’9″ sophomore could struggle against tonight from the field, going against a Seawolves squad allowing opponents just 38% shooting on the season.
Tonight’s game really puts strength against strength, as both teams are better in the frontcourt than the backcourt, but the Seawolves are especially talented off the glass. Stony Brook outrebounded Connecticut, and in the top 50 in the nation in rebounding, thanks in part to three players 6’8″ or taller that will see significant minutes. They don’t foul much on defense, and are also talented blockers.
One area Eastern Illinois has been good in this year is winning the turnover battle, an area Stony Brook isn’t especially impressive in.