Instead of writing a First and Final Word every morning during non-conference play, I’m combining the two into one post. Meet the “turnaround”
One does not simply walk into Martin and…oh, nevermind.
Eastern Illinois 55, Purdue 83
I remember last season when EIU was really struggling early, coach Jay Spoonhour‘s approach to those contests was to essentially throw the kitchen sink at it, and see if anyone could make an impact. It’s good to see that hasn’t gone away. 14 Panthers see action in the lopsided loss to the Boilermakers. The offense struggles everywhere on the court, including the free-throw line, where they hit just 14-24 on the night. In the department of good news: EIU was competitive on the boards.
Lipscomb 64, Belmont 94
The second Battle of the Boulevard turned into more of a beatdown, as the Bruins have no inkling of a post-big game letdown. We can also officially say J.J. Mann‘s three-point slump is over, and he leads the way for the Bruins with 17 points on the night. Lipscomb, who had no trouble scoring on their home floor just a week ago, shoots just 33% from the field, as the Bruins extend the nation’s longest home winning streak to 24 games.
UMKC 79, UT Martin 67
This is a bad loss. The Skyhawks don’t score a single point in the last 3:58 of the game, as the Kangaroos win their first game of the season. UTM shoots 32% of their home floor, and allowed UMKC 58% shooting. Myles Taylor was back into the starting lineup for the Skyhawks, but struggled with a bit of foul trouble. He also struggled shooting, hitting just 2-11 from the field. If you’re looking for silver linings: UTM forced 21 turnovers, and hit their free-throws.
Austin Peay (2-1) at Central Michigan (1-2 MAC)
6:00 p.m. CST
Scouting AP: If you take out the last few minutes of Tuesday night’s SIU game, Austin Peay appeared to solve their free-throw woes from the Memphis game. Of course, they missed some key ones when they counted, but we’ll call it progress. But my big question: is Travis Betran more bust than boom this season? It’s rare, but we’ve seen it happen before with JUCO transfers, where they have one big year followed by a letdown. Betran got into double-digits against the Salukis, but also took more shots, 13, than he took in the first two contests. While they’re among the nation’s leaders in blocks, it the Governors perimeter defense, holding opponents to 26% shooting behind the arc, that’s really shining in the early parts of the year.
Scouting CMU: Through two games against Division I opponents this year, CMU has stopped virtually no one, but chalk it partially up to good competition: Their opponents are a combined 6-0 on the year, and the Chippewas weren’t exactly blown out of either. They’re lead by sophomore guard Chris Fowler, who is off to a dynamic start this season. Fowler is leading the team with 16 points a game, (breaking 20 in both his last two games) and lest you think he’s just a shooter he also leads the team in assists with 5.3 a game. He’s got options as well: fellow guard Austin Keel knows how to get to the free-throw line, and 6’8 forward Josh Simons has surprising range for his size. This team does not turn over the basketball, averaging just 8 a contest, fourth best in the nation on this young season.
Indiana-Kokomo (NAIA) at Tennessee Tech (2-3)
7:00 p.m. CST
Scouting TTU: While that was a tough trip to Texas record wise, it’s hard to call the trip a failure. All three games were highly competitive, and the Golden Eagles are still working on how exactly to mesh quite a few new, significant, parts into their offensive attack. Honestly, the fact they have an offensive attack is quite an improvement in and among itself. While it’s early, TTU is shooting nearly two-percentage points better from the field than last season, but as is the OVC’s apparent curse, they can’t hit free-throws. TTU needs to become more consistent in their all-around game, but I still think this is clearly a better team than a year ago.