There are two things that we should take from a pretty crazy night in the OVC last night. First, winning on the road in conference play is never easy.
Second, every team has a team or two they don’t matchup well against. Belmont has struggled against teams with size. Murray State has struggled against Austin Peay and SIU Edwardsville in all four matchups.
The seeding could be hugely important in March. Because every team has weaknesses. And tonight, the top two teams’ weaknesses were exposed.
Last Night’s Scores
Jacksonville State 81, Morehead State 85
Recap | A technical foul with 1.6 seconds to go gave Morehead State’s Devon Atkinson four free-throws to seal the game. Jacksonville State shot 59% from the field, 20-22 from the free-throw line, but were outrebounded by 10, and turned the ball over 19 times in the loss.
Austin Peay 71, Eastern Illinois 64
Recap | Austin Peay jumps out to an early lead, and holds off a furious late rally from the Panthers for just their second conference win. The Governors shot 9-17 from 3-point range led by 24 points from Anthony Campbell and a double-double from Chris Horton.
Belmont 69, Tennessee State 80
Recap | The Bruins shoot just 19% from 3-point range, falling despite five scorers in double-digits. Tennessee State’s Kellen Thorton inks a double-double, and Robert Covington has his best game since returning from injury, scoring a game-high 25 points.
Murray State 60, SIU Edwardsville 65
Recap | Less than an hour before tip, SIUE announces they’re suspending Jerome Jones for the season. The Cougars hold the Racers to just 39% shooting, and get their best win since joining the OVC. Isaiah Canaan and Stacy Wilson each score 20 points, but combine for just 3-11 from behind the arc.
Tennessee Tech 69, Eastern Kentucky 80
Recap | Tennessee Tech had a surprising lead at halftime, but can’t stop the Colonels in the final 20 minutes. Four Colonels, led by 21 points from Mike DiNunno, score in double-figures.
Three Point Shot
- Belmont would be well served by Tennessee State earning the three-seed, or by falling to the two-seed themselves. The Bruins just appear to matchup better with the Colonels, and while they can beat the Tigers, I think TSU is more likely to create a semi-final upset. Murray State is much in the same boat. They don’t shoot as consistently well as EKU, but they have the size to take on Tennessee State. If the current seeds hold, two upsets on semi-final Friday aren’t out of the question. Of course, EKU and TSU have to avoid getting upset themselves.
- The biggest loser last night didn’t even take the court: UT Martin. The Skyhawks hold the tiebreaker over SIUE, but not over Eastern Illinois. If there’s a 3-way tie that goes to the second tier tiebreaker, SIUE’s win over Murray is better than UTM’s win over EKU. (Based on tournament seeding, not pure record) Skyhawks may need 7 wins now to get in.
- Speaking of SIUE, are the Cougars better without Jones? I don’t think so, but it’s an argument that could be made. Jones was the team’s leading scorer, but he wasn’t the most efficient shooter, and took quite a few ill-advised shots. The Cougars aren’t going to win many shootouts down the stretch, but they weren’t winning those games earlier in the season either.
Player of the Night: Robert Covington, Tennessee State. 25 points on 7-9 shooting from the field, perfect 8-8 from the free-throw line, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. If he’s not back to 100%, he’s close.
Player of the Night in a Loss: Tarvin Gaines, Jacksonville State. 31 points and five rebounds not enough for the Gamecocks to get past Morehead State.
Unsung Hero: Joy Charles, SIU Edwardsville. Playing his most minutes of the season in the absence of Jones, the sophomore who had just 5 points all years scored 8 on 3-5 shooting, and pulled down 3 rebounds.
Team Trending Upwards: SIU Edwardsville. They needed a big win. They got one.
Team Trending Downwards: Belmont. The Bruins have lost two of three. Is it just a February slump? Or is it a sign of more serious problems?