OVC Ball Statbox
|13-12 (4-6 OVC)|
|15-6 (6-3 OVC)|
|32/50 (64.0%)||Field Goals||26/66 (39.4%)|
|14/22 (63.6%)||3-Point FG||8/21 (38.1%)|
|19/23 (82.6%)||Free Throws||21/26 (80.8%)|
|32 (4/28)||Rebounds (O/D)||33 (15/18)|
|8||2nd Chance Pts||11|
|20||Points off TO||22|
|24||Pts in the Paint||34|
Tempo Tracker (Possessions)
Eastern Kentucky offense
Tennessee State offense
What happened: Hey, EKU’s shooting returned. We missed you! Well, Tennessee State probably doesn’t…
TSU’s defense was essentially sliced and diced by the Colonels. Javonte Hawkins scored 36 points, two short of his career high, and the Colonels shot 64% from the field in the win. Nick Mayo added a double-double for the Colonels, with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
It was TSU’s worst defensive performance of the season, allowing 1.26 points per possession. In fact — their two worst defensive performances of the season, statistically, have come in the last four games — the other being their 103-95 loss at Belmont.
For EKU — it’s the ninth time the Colonels averaged more than 1.2 points per possession this season, but just the second in conference play. Seven of the nine came on or before December 1st.
The Tigers, once 5-0 in conference play, have now dropped three of their last four.
What it means: For Eastern Kentucky, another loss would have put them behind the eight-ball in the race for a spot in the conference tournament. The win has two benefits: it keeps them half a game back of UT Martin for the 8th seed, and if TSU proves to be a top-4 seed, it could give EKU a leg up in a tiebreaker. (Assuming a tie can’t be broken by head-to-head.)
For Colonel fans, hopefully it’s a sign their offense is returning. As mentioned in this week’s Power Rankings, EKU’s shooting has had a significant drop off since conference play began.
Player of the Night: No argument here — Hawkins had the night: 11-15 shooting, 6-8 from three-point range. Given EKU’s standing, in part, Hawkins probably isn’t a true POY candidate, but he’s posted impressive numbers this year. Great news for EKU fans — he’ll be back next year.
What’s next: A date with East Division leaders Belmont on Saturday in Nashville.
What it means: Tennessee State no longer controls their own fate for the East Division crown, and the double-bye that comes with it. The Tigers are now two back of Belmont in the loss column with only one remaining matchup against the Bruins. Possibly more important — the Tigers are a game back in the loss column of the three-seed, and still just a game up on the fourth seed, and the final single bye.
Even if the Tigers get a single bye, the seeding could be important. Baring a massive collapse, the three-seed will be in an advantageous position of going through the West Division champions in the semifinal, not the East Division champs, whether it be Tennessee Tech or Belmont.
Player of the Night: Marcus Roper provided a boost off the bench, scoring 16 points on 5-10 shooting (and a more impressive 4-6 three-point shooting performance). Keron Deshields did have 21 points, but had a relatively rough 6-19 shooting performance.
What’s next: Game two of an important three game homestand. Tigers host Morehead State Saturday in a game with huge OVC Tournament bye implications.