All-in-all, there weren’t a lot of surprises last night. Tennessee State over Tennessee Tech was a mild upset according to Vegas-minded folk, but the rest of the slate went mostly as expected.
What is somewhat surprising is how the separation between the two divisions is already evident. So far, the East division has won all four games played against West Division teams, although the teams believed to be the top two in the West have yet to play against the opposite division. While they could change the fortunes somewhat, it would be majorly surprising if the West division proved to win more inter-division games. In fact, it’d be outright shocking.
The question is will the difference be enough to put in five teams from the East, and limit the West to just three teams in this March’s OVC Tournament. If not, it could very well be a “better” team with a worse record is left out over a weaker team benefiting from playing in a weaker division.
Of course, it’s early, and the balance of power could shift as conference play continues on.
Last Night’s Scores
SIU Edwardsville 64, Morehead State 68
Belmont 73, Jacksonville State 62
Austin Peay 84, Southeast Missouri 86
Murray State 73, UT Martin 62
Tennessee State 72, Tennessee Tech 66
Three Point Shot
- When Isaiah Canaan came up limping during the second half of Murray State’s 600th OVC win, I was a little worried. When he came back in the game following the next timeout, I was borderline furious. Why play him? Murray State was up double-digits, and UT Martin didn’t appear to be on the verge of threatening. If his injury was worsened, (which doesn’t appear to be the case) Murray State would undoubtedly go from OVC favorites to very much struggling. I know Isaiah probably wanted to play. Players usually do. And the limping might have had nothing to do with his foot injury. But when your star is limping up the court, and you’ve got a lead, go to the bench.
- Last night’s win was a fairly big statement for Belmont. There are still quite a few people, most of whom haven’t watched the Bruins, that think they’re not that good. They are, and if you’ve seen them play it’s hard not to see it. A solid, mostly wire-to-wire win over Jacksonville State makes a good statement for the Bruins, who have the top RPI in the OVC heading into conference play. If, for some reason, you’re one of the guys sleeping on the Bruins: Stop.
- Southeast Missouri’s near loss to Austin Peay, and a surprising challenge by UT Martin have me a bit concerned about the Redhawks. Their guards stepped up in a big way against the Governors, after their frontcourt had a big night against the Skyhawks. If SEMO can, somehow, find a way to get both involved on the same night, they’re going to be a very tough team to beat. Saturday is a huge game for the Redhawks, who need to prove they can beat the Racers to compete for the West division crown.
Player of the Night: Chad Posthumus, Morehead State. The junior center pulled down 19 rebounds, 15 in the first half, as Morehead State edged SIU Edwardsville. Despite 10 offensive rebounds, Posthumus couldn’t break into double-figure scoring.
Player of the Night in a loss: Will Triggs, Austin Peay. Triggs’ 29 was outdone by one point by Travis Betran, but whereas Betran scored 30 points on 24 shots, Triggs’ 29 came on 14-17 shooting from the field. Triggs also added 11 rebounds for just his second career double-double.
Unsung Hero: Marcus Lewis, Eastern Kentucky. You likely haven’t heard Lewis’ name if you live outside of Richmond, but the JUCO transfer scored 11 points on 5-7 shooting in a win over EIU. Lewis is averaging a quiet six points a night for the Colonels off the bench this season.
Team Trending Upwards: Austin Peay. Sure, they lost a game they probably shouldn’t have, but some, myself included, wasn’t sure if the Governors would even compete with Southeast Missouri. They very much did, and should have walked out of Cape Girardeau with a W. Interesting matchup with UT Martin on the slate for Saturday.
Team Trending Downards: Jacksonville State. Kept the game close, but held the lead just once in a loss at home to Belmont. Interesting to see how the Gamecocks bounce back on Saturday.
Side Note: Cannan is now tied for the most three-pointers in Murray State history, a mark he’ll likely hold after this weekend. Canaan’s 251 three’s ties him with Racer great Frank Allen.
Stat of the Night: Belmont was a perfect 17-17 from the free throw line in their win over Jacksonville State. J.J. Mann contributed two of those free throws, and is perfect from the line on the season. He’s only had eight attempts, and his two last night were his first since the game at Stanford in early November. How does a 6’6″ forward averaging seven points a night only have eight free throw attempts on the season?