Another full day of Ohio Valley Conference play today, and today we have odds, provided to me by @tomviathoughts. If you haven’t followed him yet, get on that.
He will be in Martin for the Skyhawks and Governors. (He volunteered. I promise.) I will be in Cape Girardeau, for the battle at the top of the West Division.
Let’s get to it.
Tennessee State (8-7, 2-0) at Jacksonville State (10-4, 2-1)
4:30 p.m. CST
Favorite: JSU -5.5
Jacksonville State is coming off a disappointing loss to OVC newbie Belmont on Thursday, but there’s no time to mourn their loss, as they face a Tennessee State team’s that’s won three straight, and seven of their last nine.
The Gamecocks lost the battle inside, and that where the Tigers will look to score as well. Tennessee State has struggled shooting the deep ball, although the Tigers shooting numbers have been much better in their two OVC games. In fact, even with Robert Covington on the bench, the Tigers have shot better the 50% from the field in both wins, although neither Eastern Illinois or Tennessee Tech have been good defensive teams this year.
Patrick Miller has been a big key for the Tigers in conference play as well. Miller is shooting 65% from the field in conference play (compared to 39% on the year) and has scored 20+ points in two straight games. He’s also 6-8 from behind the arc.
The Gamecocks defense, their namesake, was gashed in the loss to Belmont, as the Bruins shot 52% from the field. Jacksonville State was able to hang offensively for the most part, but they Gamecocks simply aren’t built for games in the 70’s.
Eastern Illinois (3-12, 0-2) at Morehead State (7-8, 1-0)
7:30 p.m. EST
Favorite: Morehead -10.5
Line of the night after Thursday’s game definitely came from Eastern Illinois’ coach Jay Spoonhour. After his team’s eighth straight loss, the Panthers coach said, “I guess it can be good or bad but our guys don’t quit. The problem is they put themselves in that position to where we can compliment them about not quitting.”
They’ll look to break the slide tonight in a battle of tempo in Morehead, as the very methodical Panthers take on the anything but methodical offense of Morehead State.
Tempo issues aside, Morehead State has to reduce their mistakes. The Eagles committed 18 turnovers on Thursday, but only two were steals by SIU Edwardsville. That means the other 16 were self-induced; offensive fouls, throwing the ball out of bounds, or other violations. The good news is those kind of turnovers don’t lead to fast-break points. The bad news is that’s 16 possessions, out of your 71 in that game, that you don’t get a chance to score.
Ball control has been a strength of the Panthers this year, and will be important tonight to controlling tempo, and playing their half-court style of game. But that’s only part of the battle: you still have to execute, and the Panthers didn’t for much for the first half against the Colonels on Thursday night, scoring just eight points in the final 14:48 of the first half. Alex Austin is emerging as a possible freshman of the year candidate for the Panthers, and it appears Spoonhour is allowing the freshman to play more minutes as of late.
Austin Peay (4-11, 0-1) at UT Martin (3-12, 0-3)
6:00 p.m. CST
Favorite: UTM -2
Coming off a game they probably should have won, the Governors travel to Martin on a 7-game losing streak. The Skyhawks, also losers of seven straight. The good news here is that I’ve checked the rule book, and both teams aren’t allowed to lose the same game. So, there’s that.
Sarcasm aside, if either team wants to make the OVC tournament, this is a fairly important game in the West division, probably more so for the Skyhawks. After tonight’s game, the Skyhawks hit the road for games at Tennessee State and Belmont, meaning with a loss tonight, UT Martin could very well be staring at an 0-6 start in conference a week from now.
Austin Peay fans have to be sick after their loss at SEMO on Thursday. The Governors were up in the last eight minutes of game, and SEMO’s star Tyler Stone was one the bench, but Austin Peay simply couldn’t get stops down the stretch. Austin Peay has been a defensive train-wreck this season, which you almost have to be to lose when you have two players score 29 and 30 points, respectively. Turnovers continue to be an issue. Only 14 against SEMO sounds good, until you realize the Redhawks force less than 10 a game on average.