- If you follow @OVCBall on Twitter, or read last night’s Final Word, I wasn’t very kind to Eastern Illinois, who scored 32 points in a loss at Western Illinois. Some people may take that to mean I don’t like the Panthers. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. EIU head coach Jay Spoonhour is a great guy to talk to, as always very complimentary about our coverage about his team, and I actually feel bad for making fun of them.That being said, last night wasn’t good. There’s no other way to spin it. It was the fewest points the school has ever scored in their Division I era. Spoonhour’s thoughts after the game? “Boy, you sure don’t want to look the way we looked tonight, but we sure did.” Sherman Blandford shared his thoughts as well. “Right now we’re talking about playing hard. We’re not a bad team. We just made a lot of bad plays. We made 19 turnovers. That killed us. We got outworked. We’ve got to play harder. We beat ourselves along with them beating us.” I absolutely love that this team is keeping their head up after a loss like that. One final note from the game: Reggie Smith, the team’s leading scorer, played just 18 minutes after suffering a head injury. According to the Daily Eastern, Smith dove out of bounds for the basketball and hit his head on the side bleachers in the second half. Spoonhour didn’t reveal much about his condition, other than to say he’s got a bad headache.
- Your not going to save your season in one game in December, but both Murray State and UT Martin got wins they really needed last night. We talked a lot about the Skyhawks playing without Myles Taylor, but like him or love him, Mike Liabo is a key to their success. He has his moments, makes a lot of plays that make you scratch your head, but he’s playing with emotion he really can lift his team. Taylor’s still getting healthy, but last night we finally starting seeing what we expected from the Skyhawks. Murray State won a tough, back-and-forth game at home, and as I mentioned last night, I love how this team fought. There’s been some criticism about this team playing with emotion as well, and last night we saw an energetic, upbeat team, and how strong they can be. Their defense, a sore point all year, was much better, even though D.J. Balentine scored 25 points. They forced turnovers, got transition buckets. If they can do that game in and game out, they’re could be a solid team when OVC play begins in January.
- Today’s Slate:
Tennessee Tech at Lipscomb: Should we just invite the Bisons to the OVC? They’re in Nashville, and already play a lite OVC schedule anyway. Just a thought? This is game number 8 for the Bisons, and their fifth against the OVC, and they still have Murray State and Austin Peay left on the schedule. After surprisingly challenging Belmont in the season opener, Lipscomb has been a bit shaky. TTU has the 3rd best offensive efficiency in the conference (huge improvement) and are forcing turnovers on defense, but are playing just their 3rd true road game of the year.
Eastern Kentucky at VCU: EKU’s schedule difficulty continues ramping up tonight, as they try their hand at HAVOC. The Colonels ball handling has been spectacular this year, and, unlike Belmont, they have experienced guards that may be able to handle the full-court pressure. They’ve struggled against size, and 6’9 Juvonte Reddic is quite the handful on the inside.
FEATUREDPredicting the OVC race…in mid-December