Personal Note: Sorry about the lack of updates this weekend. A friend I haven’t seen in two years surprised me from out of town. We’re back up and running today!
I think it’s safe to say this weekend marks the high point for the OVC this season. Easily. The conference finishes the two days well over .500, and Belmont takes down a little known team from the state of North Carolina.
Tennessee State 71, #16 Wichita State 85
There were some good things here for the Tigers, who held tight with the 16th-ranked shockers for much of the game. For one, TSU scored more than 55 points. Patrick Miller still led the way, but got meaningful contributions from M.J. Rhett (16 points) and Jaleal Queery. (10) Wichita State shoots 43% from 3-point range, and controls the boards in the win.
Southeast Missouri 76, IUPUI 68
I see you Tyler Stone. 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Redhawks big man, (not to mention four assists and three block) as the Redhawks get a solid win on the road. IUPUI gets big nights from a pair of starters, but have zero depth, as no reserve played more than three minutes. SEMO forces 18 turnovers, shoot 48% from the field in the win.
Eastern Illinois 86, Illinois-Chicago 66
Hey everyone, EIU is capable of winning in a blowout. This is kind of a big deal. 23 points from Reggie Smith, 57% shooting from the field as a team, 64% shooting from three-point range: those kind of numbers will win you a lot of games. Sherman Blandford plays 25 minutes off the bench, a good sign after his apparent injury earlier in the week.
Tennessee Tech 62, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 60
Their Texas road trip didn’t get off to the best start, but they’ll take a win after holding off a late surge from the Islanders. A three-pointer by Hameed Ali made it a 2-point game with 15 seconds to play, but Ali missed a potentially game-tying jump shot with 3 seconds to go allowing the Golden Eagles to escape with the win. An even night of scoring all around, but as we’ve seen across the OVC this year, a tough night at the free-throw line (16-28, 57%) makes the game much closer than it could have been for TTU.
High Point 67, Eastern Kentucky 74
High Point was picked to win the Big South, so this is a fairly solid win for the Colonels at home. Glenn Cosey has a huge night, hitting five threes on his way to a game-high 25 points. EKU forced 15 Panthers turnovers, but still struggles defensively a bit, allowing High Point to shoot 51% from the field.
Central Arkansas 93, SIU Edwardsville 100
I said in our 10 things for Week 1 that I wanted to see how Edwardsville played against a more equal opponent. Turns out, pretty well. The Cougars hit the century mark behind six double-figure scorers in a game that turned into a free-throw shooting contest; SIUE hits an impressive 81% (30-37) from the charity stripe in the win. Something to note: The Cougars do give up 11 three’s to Central Arkansas, which is still a lot given the lack of defense throughout
Alabama State 84, Jacksonville State 73
Things are not going the Gamecocks way to start the season, and it falls once again on the defense. The Hornets shoot 50% from the field, but also hit their free-throws (32-39, 82%) keeping Jacksonville State winless on the year. Darion Rackley scores a team-high 23 points playing all 40 minutes in the loss.
Marshall 94, Morehead State 102 OT
There are the “free-throw contests” I mentioned above, and then there’s this game. The teams combined for 76 fouls, and 108 free-throw attempts in this one. Even with overtime, that’s ridiculous. Oh, and for the curious, it was Marshall with the much larger number of fouls. As for the rest of the game, the Eagles score 53 in the second half to overcome a 21-point deficit, and then continue hitting shots in OT to pull away to a solid win over the Thundering Herd. The Eagles force an insane 26 turnovers, but had no answer for Elijah Pitman, who finishes with a game high 31 points.
IPFW 69, Tennessee Tech 66
Another close loss in Texas, and it appears that TTU’s scoring is drying up a bit. IPFW’s Luis Jacobo has a monster day off the bench, finishing with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds. TTU trailed throughout, but pulled within one in the final minute after a Dennis Ogbe three, who finished perfect from the field coming off the bench, scoring a season-high 15 points.
UT Martin 61, Florida State 89
I really hope these money games are worth it for the Skyhawks. If you’re looking for the good, Myles Taylor had another strong game off the bench, as he continues to recover from his injuries, and Javier Martinez had one of his better games of the year. As a whole, the Skyhawks were very competitive on the boards with the bigger Seminoles, and UTM forced 19 FSU turnovers. And…that’s about it for the good. UTM shoots 35% from the field, FSU shoots 59%, and that’s almost automatically a loss.
Belmont 83, #12 North Carolina 80
Welcome back J.J. Mann! Mann has struggled from three-point range all season, but hits five including the game-winner with 13.1 seconds to go, as the Bruins shock the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. Belmont actually leads throughout, but nearly squandered an 11-point second half lead. Belmont as a team hits 15-37 from 3-point range, and a very impressive 20-22 from the free-throw line in the win. North Carolina was dominant inside, as most teams are against the Bruins, but almost to their detriment as they shoot just 2-7 from behind the 3-point arc. It also didn’t help that North Carolina has an awful day at the charity stripe, just 22-48. (46%)
Three Point Shot
- Belmont’s win over North Carolina broke a 82-game win streak for the Tar Heels over unranked, non-conference teams at home. Okay, so that’s kind of a specific streak, but still awesome. It has to rank as one of the OVC’s best wins since Murray State won at Memphis two years ago, and among the best in the Bruins history.
- Just how good was this weekend for the OVC? So good, their conference RPI…dropped by four ranks, from No. 22 to No. 26, according to BB State. Um, what? Despite the impressive weekend, the OVC is still under .500 in non-conference play, at 20-26, so there’s still work to be done.
- I can only harp so much on free-throws, but it’s got to be said again. I know there’s not a lot that can done at this point int players careers: at this point you’re either likely a really good free-throw shooter or you’re not. But if you’re hitting just half of your free-throws, you’re leaving 10-20 points on the line every game. There aren’t many games you’re going to be 10-20 points better than your opponents.
Player of the Weekend: J.J. Mann, Belmont. Don’t care about the stats, because other players put up bigger numbers. No one else hit a game winner to topple a ranked team on the road. He’s still shooting just 20% from three-point range on the season, but I think that’s clearly on the rise.
Player of the Weekend in a loss: Darion Rackley, Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks are off to a horrible start, and I’m not sure you can even say they’ve played top-notch competition. A solid game for Rackley, who can’t even get a rest. It may be a much longer season for Jacksonville State than we thought.
Unsung Hero: Reece Chamberlain, Belmont. Yep, this has to do with that shot again, as Chamberlain was the man assisting Mann on the game-winner. Seriously, you expect me to give it to someone else?
Teams Trending Upwards: Belmont, SIUE, Eastern Illinois. The first is fairly obvious, but the second two had really good weekends, and showed they might not want to be looked over in the Western Division. I’m not sure either will compete for the division crowd, but they could make things hard for the teams that do.
Teams Trending Downward: Jacksonville State. You’ve got to get a win, somehow, someway. They haven’t yet, and I’m getting really concerned.