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I begin with what is simply one of the quotations of the year. After last night’s win, Austin Peay head coach Dave Loos said this about the tournament:

“Well, if you’re not coming to win, I don’t see the point.”

There’s no doubt that the Governors, and especially Chris Horton, delivered that message last night is a dominating win over favored Tennessee Tech. Now, their reward is an equally tough Tennessee State squad, that may have one answer TTU didn’t.

Defense.

“Well, if you’re not coming to win, I don’t see the point.”

The Tigers lead the league in defensive efficency this season, and in the first meeting between these two programs, TSU held Horton to 17 points and 8 rebounds, and the Governors as a whole to 52 points and 35% shooting.

TSU has the talent to make life a bit more difficult on Horton.

…not that Horton’s going to make it easy.

 

Austin Peay Logo New

While Horton stole the show, Austin Peay’s guards had more mixed results on the opening night of the conference tournament. Khalil Davis had five assists without a single turnover, while Josh Robinson went 0-8 from three-point range, and turned the ball over four times. (Although he also led the team with six assists.) Given TSU’s defensive struggles on the perimiter, (the weakness in an otherwise a great defense) guys like Davis, Robinson, and Jared Savage will have an opportunity to step up and make shots. That didn’t happen in round one: that trio combined to hit 2-12 from three, and 5-25 from the field.

The guard play may be more important than ever. To elaborate on my point about TSU’s defense, the Tigers allowed opponents to shot 36.8% from three-point range in league play, (ranking 8th) while holding teams to 46.5% shooting inside. (ranking second) The defense was also second in steals, and second in blocks. The “throw the ball up towards Horton” offense, which worked perfectly against Tennessee Tech, probably won’t have the same impact against TSU.

But if the Governors can get the ball to Horton, he can make good things happen. Horton was 7-11 from the field in the first meeting between these teams.

It’s unrealistic to think Horton will go off for another career-type night, but Austin Peay doesn’t need that to win. They need a balanced effort, and a big night from at least one of their backcourt players. Getting to 92 isn’t needed to beat TSU most nights. But you have to score more than 52.

 

Tennessee State TSU LogoAustin Peay certainly isn’t going to sneak up on the Tigers after last night, and the Tigers are well matched to play this type of team. TSU keeps opponents off the offensive glass, play physical inside, and lead the league in forced turnover percentage — against a team that has struggled with turnovers at times.

In TSU’s win over Belmont, we saw exposive offense out of the Tigers for the first time in a few weeks. The outside shooting simply isn’t there, (one reason TSU takes the second-fewest three point shots in the OVC) and too often they don’t give a reason for defense to do anything except collapse inside. But despite the presence of Horton inside, Austin Peay’s defense has been weak on the inside, in part due to guards allowing far too much dribble penetration. If the defense can contain Horton, they might not need the three to fall.

It’s also worth noting: Tahjere McCall, an OVC first-teamer, had one of his worst offensive nights of the season against Austin Peay, and TSU still cruised. Even Keron DeSheilds (pictured above) was held to 14 points.

But, that game in mid-January was almost a lifetime ago. Austin Peay is coming off one of their best games of the season.

So is TSU…


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OVC Ball
Compiling all OVC non-conference games

2016 Football Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 7-0 10-2
UT Martin 6-2 7-5
Tennessee Tech 5-3 5-6
Tennessee State 4-3 7-4
Eastern Illinois 4-4 6-5
Murray State 4-4 4-7
SEMO 3-5 3-8
Eastern Kentucky 2-6 3-8
Austin Peay 0-8 0-11


2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall

EAST

Belmont 15-1 23-7
Morehead State 10-6 14-16
Jacksonville State 9-7 20-15
Tennessee State 8-8 17-13
Tennessee Tech 8-8 12-20
Eastern Kentucky 5-11 12-19

WEST

UT Martin 10-6 22-13
SEMO 9-7 15-18
Murray State 8-8 16-17
Austin Peay 7-9 11-19
Eastern Illinois 6-10 14-15
SIUE 1-15 6-24


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