After a great November, things are crashing down on the OVC, and this weekend was another disappointing showing for a few teams in the conference. The OVC is now six games under .500 against Division I teams, the furthest the conference has been below the line this season.
But you can’t blame Murray State or Eastern Kentucky for that. Both teams picked up road wins on Saturday, and are a combined 16-1 on the year. Belmont and Jacksonville State are off to good starts as well.
It’s on the other end of the conference where things get sticky. SIU Edwardsville is battling injuries, but their problems extend farther than missing Mark Yelovich. Eastern Illinois and UT Martin are struggling, Tennessee State is off to a rough start, and Austin Peay turned over the ball 28 times on Saturday in a loss to Memphis.
With the bulk of non-conference play coming to the end, the OVC is short on “signature wins,” with Belmont’s win at Stanford, and Murray State’s win against St. John’s being the only two on the list.
Indiana State 63, Morehead State 71,
Murray State 82, Evansville 70
Tennessee State 38, #11 Missouri 68
Central Arkansas 88, Southeast Missouri 85
Eastern Illinois 59, Toledo 67
Eastern Kentucky 63, Chattanooga 52
Tennessee Tech 41, Gardner-Webb 61
UT Martin 62, Lipscomb 86
SIUE 38, Western Illinois 55
Three Point Shot
- I was becoming concerned about Murray State after struggles against Lipscomb and Old Dominion, but the win at Evansville reminded me just how good the Racers can be. After getting behind 24-9, the Racers dominated the rest of the game against a good Aces team, and shut down Ned Cox. With Latreze Mushatt expected to be back near the end of the month, I’m now sold that the Racers are going to be a real force, again, in the OVC this year.
- I’m becoming more sold on Eastern Kentucky as well. Sure, they’re still not playing amazing competition, but the confidence they’re getting from this win streak could go a long way. We’ll learn a lot more over the next 4 games with trips to Illinois and West Virginia.
- I’ve lost all faith in SIU Edwardsville, my dark horse pick at the beginning of the year. Yes, I know Mark Yelovich has been out, but the Cougars problems are deeper than injuries. They’re defense is struggling, and their offense isn’t good enough to make up the difference. They look completely different than they did when they opened the season at Missouri. Seniors Jerome Jones and Derian Shaffer must step up if the Cougars are going to compete. They’re one saving grace: they’re in the weaker west division, and will play two games each against UT Martin and Eastern Illinois.
Player of the Weekend: Ed Daniel, Murray State. Daniel earned his sixth straight double-double, and his third straight 20+ point game in the win over Evansville. Daniel is the heart and soul of the Racers right now, impressive when you think the team includes an All-American in Isaiah Canaan.
Co-Player of the Weekend: Glenn Cosey, Eastern Kentucky. 23 points in the win against Chattanooga, his 5th 20+ point performance on the year. The JUCO transfer has been amazingly consistent, yet to score fewer than 11 points in a game this year.
Would have been Players of the Weekend had your team won: Tyler Stone and Nino Johnson, SEMO. The forwards combined for 53 points, and Johnson pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds in the home loss to Central Arkansas.
Player of the Weekend non-OVC edition: Robert Crawford, Central Arkansas. Garner showed up both Stone and Johnson, scoring 39 points on 12-15 shooting from the field.
Unsung Hero: Brandon Garrett, Murray State. Okay, so I kind of sung his exploits in my recap, but the forwards had a career-high scoring and rebounding night on Saturday. If he plays like that, the Racers could contend with SEMO for best frontcourt in the OVC.
Not your best night: Jud Dillard, Tennessee Tech. If there was any question how important Dillard is to the Golden Eagles, Tennessee Tech has lost all four times Dillard scored 15 or fewer points. In all five Tennessee Tech wins, Dillard has scored at least 20 points. The senior scored just seven points on 2-12 shooting in the Golden Eagles loss on Saturday.
Team Trending Upward: Eastern Kentucky. With a trip to undefeated Illinois next on the schedule, the streak will likely end at 9-0, but it’s been a great start to the year for the Colonels.
Team Trending Downward: SIU Edwardsville. They’re barely competitive right now.
Stat of the Night: Austin Peay’s 28 turnovers against Memphis is the most for the Governors since January of 1999. The Govs turned the ball over 29 times that night…and won, 68-58 against Tennessee State.