There’s a saying I’ve never quite fully understood that goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” I think I’m getting it now, after Austin Peay’s overhauled roster puts up a performance fairly similar to last season’s loss to Memphis.
Austin Peay 69, Memphis 95
Last season, Austin Peay committed 27 turnovers in a 18 points loss. This season? 22 turnovers in a 26 point loss. I’m not sure if this counts as progress. Travis Betran struggles again shooting from the field, a worrying sight through Austin Peay’s first two games. But even more worrying is that the Governors hit just 37% of their free throws (7-16) in the loss. There’s no one defending you at the free throw line. That number shouldn’t be that low no matter who you play. They were also beat on the boards 50-27.
Indiana State 95, Belmont 96
The Bruins overcome a 16-point halftime deficit with a 63-point second half. It came down to the wire, as Indiana State forced a turnover on a dual possession with two seconds left to have a chance for the win, but are unable to get the buzzer-beater to fall. J.J. Mann hits his first three-pointer of the year (now 1-15) and leads six double-digit scorers with 23 points.The Bruins shoot a lights out 60% from the floor, and win the battle of the boards by seven, something that had been a weak point so far this season. A solid night all-around at the free throw line (29-36) help lead Belmont to the win.
Three Point Shot
- It’s early, I know, but nothing I’ve seen in two games has led me to believe this Austin Peay team is much better than last. Betran’s shooting woes are especially troubling, although I feel he will snap out of it eventually, although we’ve seen before that doesn’t always happen. No doubt Memphis would blow out most of the OVC this season, but I’m just getting a feeling that the Governors haven’t applied the quick fix Austin Peay fans want to see.
- Belmont is going to outscore a lot of teams this year, as they did tonight. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bruins in the 80’s quite often, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if their opponents are there as well. Khristian Smith and Jake Odum torched the Bruins backcourt for 51 combined points on the night. While Belmont does miss Ian Clark‘s scoring, it’s the defense from last year’s defensive player of the year they may truly be lacking.
- If you watched the Memphis / Austin Peay game, both teams were up and down the floor, and the foul count wasn’t out of control. In the Belmont game, both teams were up and down the floor, and it was. It’s really a conundrum for these teams: give up layups, or try to make a play and likely get called for a foul. I’m certain it is possible to play defense with these new rules, just not how it’s been played over the past five years. The adjustment will happen, it might just be more like February, not December, when it does.
Player of the Night: Reece Chamberlain, Belmont. It’s a hard call actually, as the Bruins weren’t lacking in scoring. But I’m more impressed with the seven assists and seven rebounds from the 6’1 guard than the 16 points. He’s just a sophomore, and while he’ll likely have some growing pains this season, he’s going to be an elite guard in the conference before it’s all said and done.
Player of the Night in a loss: Will Triggs, Austin Peay. One reason, and one reason only: Triggs was 3-5 from the free throw line. While that’s not all that great, he was the only Governors player over 50% on the evening. The only one.
Unsung Hero: Drew Windler, Belmont. Windler hit two big three’s to help Belmont extend their second half lead. He also hit three free-throws in the final minute to help seal the win over the Sycamores.
Team Trending Upwards: Belmont, sort of. At home, you’re expected to win this game. Sure, you still have to go out and do it, but it wasn’t like they really blasted expectations in a one-point win. They know they have to get off to better starts, and they aren’t going to win many games allowing 90+ points. But, at the end of the year, this will probably be a good, not great, win.
Team Trending Downwards: Austin Peay, again sort of. Most OVC teams are going to get blasted by Memphis. It’s just that they did it in a very similar way to last year. What have they really learned since the last time they played the Tigers? Austin Peay may be a bit better than last year when it’s all said and done, but it doesn’t appear, at least not yet, they’re ready to take a big leap forward.