I mention this in my thoughts on the Eastern Illinois win over Murray State, but I feel it’s important to mention it yet again. You can’t simply look at the records to determine how good a team is. Austin Peay is better than their record, and they’ve proved it this week. Eastern Illinois started 0-6 in conference play, and has transformed their game over the past few weeks.
And this remains the same for the teams at the top. Murray State may have a healthy lead over the West Division, but they’re coming off their worst road trip in quite some time.
Teams right now are playing better and worse than their records would have you believe them to be. And in March, it doesn’t matter what their record is if they’re not good that week.
Last Night’s Scores
Murray State 70, Eastern Illinois 79
Recap | Thoughts | Murray State hits 15 three’s, but can’t get any stops as EIU shoots 56% from the floor, and 58% from behind the arc. Morris Woods scored 21 points on 7-8 shooting from the field, as EIU gets their first win over the Racers since January 2011.
Southeast Missouri 96, UT Martin 74
Recap | Image Gallery Will Be Up Sunday P.M. | The Redhawks hit 12-threes, shoot 56% from the floor, and hold UT Martin to just 37% shooting on their home floor. Three Redhawks score 20+ in the dominating win.
Tennessee Tech 63, Morehead State 65
Recap | A layup from Angelo Warner with nine seconds to go in the game all but ends Tennessee Tech’s chances of making the OVC Tournament. Morehead State forces 19 turnovers, and holds TTU to 3-12 shooting behind the arc in the win.
Austin Peay 83, SIU Edwardsville 71
Recap | Don’t let the final score fool you: this game was never in doubt. Austin Peay opens the game on a 28-6 run, and shoot 57% from the floor on their way to their second-straight win. Might be a case of too-little too-late for the Governors, who are still two games behind Eastern Illinois for the final spot in the OVC Tournament.
Jacksonville State 67, Eastern Kentucky 80
Recap | Five Colonels score in double-figures as Eastern Kentucky shoots 53% from the floor in a win over Jacksonville State. Tarius Johnson scored 15 points and 11 rebounds, his first double-double of his career.
Three Point Shot
- Before anyone jumps on Eastern Illinois defense for giving up 15 three’s against Murray State, that was somewhat by design. “You can either stop them from shooting three’s or you can stop them from getting dunks,” head coach Jay Spoonhour said after the game. “We stopped them from getting the ball in the paint, and it seemed to work.” Murray State took just 21 2-point field goal attempts, versus 39 shots from three. As a result, they didn’t get to the free throw line, attempting just eight free throws for the game.
- Can we all agree that Austin Peay is better than most 7-win teams? Because they are. They have been all season. They’ve lost three games in overtime, and quite a few others went down to the wire, all seemingly going against the Governors. I’m not sure that’s a team I want to see on my schedule if I’m fighting for an OVC Tournament spot right now.
- After yet another slow start, I think it’s time for Murray State to consider some changes to the starting five, which has been the same all season long. The next few games are essentially meaningless: The West Division is wrapped up (unless Murray State loses out) and they’ll almost certainly be the two seed in Nashville. (A regular season title is mathematically possible, but the Racers needs all kinds of help) Shake things up. See if something new works. What can it hurt at this point? I’m not saying it’s time to hit the panic button, because I still think when this team is focused, they’re as good as anybody in the conference. But a little change is good every now and then.
Player of the Night: Sherman Blandford, Eastern Illinois. 15 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists for the Panthers forward as he helped lead EIU to the big win.
Player of the Night in a Loss: Terence Smith, UT Martin. The Skyhawks could use more scoring, and they got 26 points from Smith tonight. They just couldn’t keep the Redhawks from scoring seemingly at will.
Unsung Hero: Jerome Clyburn, Austin Peay. Clyburn is a 6’1″ guard who dished out six assists in the Governors win over SIUE. He also pulled down eight rebounds, more than anyone on the SIUE squad. Just four points, but big contribution to the Governors.
Team Trending Upwards: Eastern Illinois. Big win, and they’re having a pretty good February. Should keep their season alive into March.
Team Trending Downwards: UT Martin. That eight seed is looking mighty far away after the last two games…
Divisional Thought: I realize about 3/4 of the way through this that I’m really focused on the West Division tonight. While the East was Beast this year, the West has proven to be much more interesting and in a way entertaining down the stretch. Make no mistake, I fully expect the East to do some damage in March. But for now, the West is really the division to watch with the deeper storylines.