What you need to know from Saturday’s action in the OVC:
SIUE 61, Central Michigan 94
Oakland 70, Morehead State 68 (OT)
Jacksonville State 55, Alabama State 80
UT Martin 77, Longwood 67
Tennessee State 68, Lipscomb 77
Western Kentucky 81, Murray State 93
Southeast Louisiana 59, Southeast Missouri 63
Austin Peay 49, Southern Illinois 71
The Need To Know
UT Martin wins, but Taylor sits out second half
The good news is that UT Martin has won their fourth road game of the year, tied for the most in the nation, and double that of the rest of their division. The bad news? Myles Taylor didn’t play in the second half. According to one source at the game, Taylor appeared to suffer a knee injury, and chose himself not to return despite being cleared by a trainer and the coach. We’ll learn more, I’m sure, in the week to come about him. The rest of the Skyhawks? Rather fantastic. UT Martin shoots 57% from the floor, and hits 24-29 at the free-throw line to get the win despite 26 points from Longwood’s Quincy Taylor.
Murray dominant, then not, then dominant again
The roller coaster that is Murray State was on full display tonight, but bottom line: they beat a good Western Kentucky team, and for at least 25 of the 40 minutes, were very impressive in doing so. The growth is already apparent, as the shot selection tonight the best I’ve seen out of this squad all year, and the bench had maybe their best night collectively of the season.
Rebounding propels Southeast Missouri on a night the shots weren’t falling
The Redhawks outrebounded the Lions 50 to 28 on the night. SEMO pulls down 20 offensive rebounds, helping overcome 38% shooting from the field, and 5-25 shooting from deep. SEMO’s leading rebounder? Forward Aaron Adeoye, who is leading the team (and in kind, teammate Nino Johnson) this season. Jarekious Bradley scores 21, but needs 21 shots to get there.
Kareem Storey plays 40 minutes in his return, but Morehead State falls in overtime
The Eagles point guard is back, and was the best shooter on the floor for the night, hitting 4-5 from three-point range. But it was Oakland’s Corey Petros‘ night, as the junior finished with a game-high 25 points, including the game winner with :01.6 left in OT. A concern down the line: six Eagles players combined for over 200 minutes in an overtime game. Four others played, but none more than five minutes.
SIUE buried in first half at Central Michigan
A 54-point first half, behind 14-23 shooting from three-point range put the game far out of reach for the Cougars, who fell to 1-5 on the year. Kris Davis led SIUE’s offense with 21 points, one of which was his 1,000th of his SIUE career. The Cougars have a much needed week off before traveling across the river to St. Louis.
Jacksonville State’s winning streak snapped at Alabama A&M
I’ve talked about Jeremy Watson a few times this year, and he continues to impress. Tonight, it was a game-high 28 points and 18 rebounds for the JUCO transfer, who is still coming off the bench. (Seriously, this guy may be one of top forwards in the league. Let’s get him in the starting lineup, and pronto) The rest of the team struggled mightily from the floor, as the Gamecocks were held to 30.5% shooting.
Tennessee State hangs tight before falling at Lipscomb
Marcus Roper is having a solid start to the year, notching his second 20+ point performance on the young season. An 11-2 run in the second half had the Tigers up three, but Lipscomb forced 19 TSU turnovers, and hit shots late to get the win in the cross-town battle.
Three’s wouldn’t fall in lopsided Austin Peay loss at Southern Illinois
The Governors shoot just 2-8 from deep, and can’t take advantage of keeping SIU’s Anthony Beane mostly in check. Chris Horton notched another double-double with a game-high 15 points and 13 rebounds. Turnovers a big issue: Austin Peay coughed up the ball 18 times to SIU’s seven.
The Top 3
01Jeremy Watson, Jacksonville State
Seriously, starter. Now. 28 points on 16 shots is impressive, nine offensive rebounds, along with nine defensive, and he hit more shots than the rest of his team combined. (While partially sad, it’s also amazing) He’s averaging nearly eight points, and seven rebounds a game. He’s an all-conference quality forward, hands down.
02TJ Sapp, Murray State
He wasn’t the Racers leading scorer, but he it the biggest shots, including two three’s that all but put Western Kentucky away. He hit all four of his looks from deep, which partially came from much better shot selection, and passing up a few here and there.
03Marcus Roper, Tennessee State
I debated about this one a bit, because there were a few quality individual performances today. But Roper’s, I feel, is really the most valuable to his team right now. TSU needs an offensive spark, and that’s exactly what he provided. The Tigers are closing in on their first Division I win of the year, and he’ll be key to getting them there.
The Closing Thought
If Taylor is seriously injured, it would be a real shame for a player that’s had an amazing, if overlooked collegiate career. For three seasons, he very much carried UT Martin on his shoulders, and this year, he’s been rewarded by not having to be the guy night-in and night-out — he can just go play. I’m hoping that sitting the second half was just an over-abundance of caution, which is absolutely warranted in any injury situation, much less one from a guy that’s come back from a similar one already. Our thoughts are with Taylor, and we hope he an return to the Skyhawks sooner rather than later.