The final Bracketbusters went later than usual into the night, but ended with back-to-back wins on ESPN2. For the day, the OVC goes 6-6, with quite a few tight losses.
Longwood 79, UT Martin 89
Recap | A barrage of free-throws in an up-tempo game help the Skyhawks top the Lancers. UTM shoots 8-17 from behind the three-point arc, and only commits six turnovers in the win.
Eastern Kentucky 60, Valparaiso 92
Recap | Eastern Kentucky gets 20 points out of Corey Walden before he leaves the court to injury. The Colonels have no answer on on either side of the ball, allowing the Crusaders to shoot 68% from the floor, while only hitting 33%.
Eastern Illinois 59, Northern Illinois 47
Recap | Morris Woods leads all scorers with 18 points as the Panthers hold the Huskies to 4-20 shooting from behind the arc.
Jacksonville State 71, UNC-Ashville 69
Recap | Ronnie Boggs tipped in a Brian Williams miss as time expired, as the Gamecocks survive a 29-point performance from the Bulldogs Jeremy Atkinson.
Morehead State 79, Oakland 82 (OT)
Recap | Morehead State shoots just 38% from the floor, and couldn’t stop the Golden Grizzlies Travis Bader who scores 28 points, shooting 5-8 from behind the arc.
SIU Edwardsville 78, Central Arkansas 80
Recap | Mark Yelovich‘s game winning attempt from 25 feet misses the mark, as Central Arkansas finishes the year 4-0 against OVC teams.
Austin Peay 73, Liberty 79 (OT)
Recap | Again with the overtime. 21 points from Anthony Campbell, 18 from Travis Betran not enough as the Governors fall in overtime for the fourth time this season.
South Dakota State 62, Murray State 73
Recap | South Dakota State jumps out to an early lead, but run out of steam as a much deeper Murray State squad comes from behind and dominated the final 10 minutes. Isaiah Canaan scores 22 points, and hit 5 three’s in the win.
Ball State 85, Southeast Missouri 82
Recap | A three pointer in the final seconds puts the Cardinals over the Redhawks despite 13 three’s and 5 double-digit scorers for Southeast MIssouri
Loyola (Md.) 69, Tennessee State 67
Recap | It was a tale of two halves for the Tigers. Just 18 second-half points, 20% shooting from the field as the Tigers fall at home for the first time this season.
Missouri-Kansas City 62, Tennessee Tech 68
Recap | Jud Dillard scores a game-high 20-points, and Tennessee Tech shoots 46% from the floor in a win over the Kangaroos.
Ohio 62, Belmont 81
Recap | Ian Clark becomes the Bruins all-time leading scorer as the Bruins rout the Bobcats
Three Point Shot
- Belmont head coach Rick Byrd didn’t really want to get into it, and probably rightfully so, but the Bruins should be in the field of 68 if they lose the OVC Tournament, assuming they don’t collapse next week. The bubble is quite soft this year with all the parity in college basketball, and Belmons is now 6-3 against the RPI top-100, and will likely get one or two more top-100 games in the OVC Tournament. They also don’t have a single loss outside the RPI top-150. That’s an at-large resume. Their dominant win over Ohio on national TV should have put some more eyes on the Bruins as well, and that can’t hurt their chances.
- EKU can’t match size. I’ve said it for quite a while now, and they proved it yet again in their loss to Valparaiso. They’re a great team, with great scorers, but they don’t have the bodies underneath. That might not be a big concern in the OVC, but if they make the NCAA tournament that could be a major issue.
- Murray’s depth has been a concern this year, but playing South Dakota State shows just how far they’ve really come. Four of the Jackrabbits starters played 36+ minutes, and three played every minute but the final one. The Racers were the much deeper team, and it helped them pull out a good win. That win could help keep the Racers off the 15 or 16-seed line if they punch their ticket in March.
Player of the Night: Mike Liabo, UT Martin. 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists for the Skyhawks junior. He struggled from the floor, but go to the free throw line, and got the entire team involved, threatening a triple-double. A complete game.
Milestone of the Night: Ian Clark, Belmont. Clark says he didn’t know he was near the point record, but his teammates sure did, and made sure he had plenty of opportunities down the stretch to become Belmont’s all-time leading scorer.
Unsung Hero: Kerron Johnson, Belmont. Johnson scored 16 points with just 5 field goal attempts. He got to the rim, and got to the free-throw line. But most impressive, he helped hold DJ Cooper to just 6 points, and 3 assists.
Teams Trending Upward: Belmont, Murray State. Both teams helped their seed if they can make the NCAA tournament, which could help keep the OVC’s 4-year win streak alive.
Teams Trending Downward: The Entire OVC. While I’m not a huge fan of non-conference games deep in conference play, the entire conference will lose a pair of quality games for seasons to come with the end of Bracketbusters. I hope teams can fill it with more quality opponents, and not more non-Division I teams.