So before we get to the rest of it, let’s start off with a few scenario updates. Jacksonville State and UT Martin are now mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Thanks to Southeast Missouri’s win Saturday, eight teams have reached the six-win mark, which neither can make.
This means the Skyhawks were eliminated on a 30+ foot banked-in buzzer beater. It certainly feels like March, even if the calendar says February
Last Night’s Recaps
Southeast Missouri 77, UT Martin 74
If you haven’t seen the buzzer-beater, we’ve linked the video above. You could claim that Southeast Missouri was due a buzzer-beater to go their way, based on how their season had gone, but you could also argue the game shouldn’t have come down to it. The Redhawks dominated the first half, opening up a 12-point lead at one point. But UT Martin came out of the locker room with a run, taking the lead and holding through much of the second half. Quite possibly the most surprising thing about the buzzer-beater? SEMO was just 2-15 from three-point range before hitting it.
Morehead State 58, Murray State 69
Don’t let the final score fool you: this game wasn’t close. Murray State led by 24 with over seven minutes left to play, and at no point did it feel like Morehead was even threatening down the stretch. Cameron Payne had a monster first half, leading Morehead State head coach Sean Woods to call him one of the best point guards in the country. Payne scored 18 in the first half, Jonathan Fairell was the somewhat surprising winner on the boards with 11, and the Racers held Morehead State to 42% shooting on the night. The most impressive stat of all: Morehead State shot just five free-throws. They lead the league in getting to the line.
Jacksonville State 57, Tennessee Tech 69
No one player exactly lit up the scoreboard for the Golden Eagles, but when you hold a team to 38% shooting from the floor, you don’t exactly need a stellar offensive night. The Gamecocks weren’t just out shot, but beat on the boards as well, as their tournament hopes officially come to an end. 13 was the magic number, as Jeremiah Samarrippas, Dennis Ogbe, Dwan Caldwell, and Brian Williams were all co-game high scorers with 13 points. Ogbe was the only one of the bunch to pull down double-digit rebounds, though. Jacksonville State’s shooting woes extending to the charity stripe, where they hit just 9-17 on the night.
Eastern Kentucky 96, Austin Peay 75
The Governors are dead last in the OVC in allowed three-pointers. Tonight did exactly nothing to change that. Eastern Kentucky hits 17 from behind the arc, and puts up a 56 point second half in a blowout with over Austin Peay. Glenn Cosey hit eight three’s on his own, tying an arena record. Austin Peay actually led 34-32, before an 8-0 run gave EKU a halftime lead, which they didn’t look back on. Austin Peay did shoot 58% from the floor, but only three from deep, and they couldn’t overcome 20 turnovers. EKU had 25 assists on 33 made baskets.
If The Tournament Started Today…
I don’t have the bracket graphic on the computer I’m using tonight, so I’ll have to do a text version.
1) Belmont (locked into double-bye) — Plays winner of 4 / 5-8 game
2) Murray State (locked into double-bye) — Plays winner of 3 / 6-7 game
3) Morehead State (locked into single-bye) — Plays winner of 6-7 game
4) Eastern Kentucky — Plays winner of 5-8 game
5) Tennessee Tech
8) Eastern Illinois
Austin Peay is the only other team still eligible. They are 1/2 game out of eighth place.
Co-Player of the Night: Glenn Cosey, Eastern Kentucky. He did miss four three-point attempts, but when you hit eight, those can more often than not be forgiven.
Co-Player of the Night: Cameron Payne, Murray State. Morehead State tried to get into the young players head. They failed to do so. Payne was simply terrific and tonight, at least, was without a doubt the best player on the court.
Co-Player of the Night: Antonius Cleveland, Southeast Missouri. I can’t in good faith leave out the guy who hit the buzzer beater that go the Redhawks on Sportscenter, can I?
Player of the Night in a loss: Terence Smith, UT Martin. 23 points on 8-10 shooting from the floor, and most nights his five threes would be one of the better performances. Smith has really had a solid season, but it’s gone mostly unnoticed thanks in large part to the Skyhawks struggles on the court.
Unsung Hero: Corey Walden, Eastern Kentucky. Walden’s 16 point, eight assist night would have been noteworthy, if not, again, for Cosey, who also had nine assists to go with his 27 points.
Teams Trending Upward: Tennessee Tech, Southeast Missouri. SEMO is doing exactly what they need, albeit with quite a lot of drama, to punch a ticket to Nashville. Tennessee Tech appears to be getting hot at the right time, although that offense is still in need of a few tweaks.
Team Trending Downward: Morehead State. No reason to lay it on the two teams eliminated. Morehead State looked from a contender tonight. This was clearly not their best game, but their stock has to take a hit in the way they lost at Murray.