Ohio Valley Notebook
There has only been one conference game so far this season (Murray
State’s blowout of Tennessee State), but after the calendar changes from 2001
to 2002, OVC head-to-head action will heat up. In the first two months of
this young season, OVC teams have played almost all their games
out-of-conference, attempting to prove that the conference is a force to be
reckoned with across the nation. So far, that has not really been exhibited,
as the conference is ranked 23rd in the conference RPI (Ratings Percentage
Index), with no teams listed in the top 100 on the team RPI. Listed below
are the top games played so far by each school, with big wins, surprising
losses and close calls sprinkled amongst the schedules of many of the nine
teams in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Big Win: On 12/6, won 76-71 vs. Middle Tennessee. The Skyhawks beat the Blue
Raiders in the first game played by the teams since MTSU left the OVC to go
to the Sun Belt Conference before last season.
Surprising Loss: On 12/21, lost 86-60 vs. Winthrop at the Winthrop Holiday
Tournament. It isn’t surprising that UT Martin lost to Winthrop, the
eye-raising part is the whopping 26 points that the game was decided by.
That’s what usually happens when a team like the Tennessee-Martin makes only
six hoops and scores 25 points in the second half.
Close Call: On 12/16, lost 83-72 at Mississippi. Two-time Newcomer of the
Week Jair Peralta arrived at halftime after graduating earlier in the day.
Its unfortunate for the Skyhawks that he was not there for the entire 40
minutes, as the outcome may have been different and UT Martin might have
upset Ole Miss.
Review: After winning its sixth straight game by beating Northern Arizona on
12/8, Tennessee-Martin was ranked 16th in the nation according to the RPI.
Since then, the Skyhawks have lost to Ole Miss and Winthrop and defeated West
Virginia State, their third win against a non-Division I school. As a
result, UT Martin’s RPI is now 113, second to Eastern Illinois (106) in the
Murray State: 7-4
Big Win: On 12/11, won 69-65 at DePaul. The Racers were up by double digits
for most of the game, until a late DePaul rally made it a nail-biter for
Surprising Loss: On 12/22, lost 71-58 at Tennessee-Chattanooga. A month
before, the Racers beat the Mocs by a similar score at home.
Close Call: On 12/1, won 74-69 vs. Alabama-Birmingham. Murray State overcame
a 19-point second half deficit to get the home win.
Review: The Racers are the only OVC team that boasts a conference win this
season. That happened on 12/21, when they clobbered Tennessee State 103-72.
Two of the four losses were against 2001 NCAA Tournament teams (Indiana State
and Western Kentucky), with another quality loss against Rick Pitino’s
Louisville team. The team has played well at home (5-0) and struggled away
from its Murray, Kentucky campus (2-4). Junior college transfer James Singleton
has played well for the Racers, averaging 11 points per game and being named
Newcomer of the Week once.
Eastern Illinois: 7-5
Big Wins: On 11/28, won 52-50 vs. Indiana State. Jesse Mackinson’s last
second basket thwarted ISU’s comeback attempt.
Close Call: On 11/22, lost 70-65 vs. Georgia Tech at the Las Vegas
Invitational. EIU led by four at the half, but was outscored 48-39 in the
Review: The losses have all come versus quality teams, with defeats against:
Illinois, Georgia Tech, Penn, Oklahoma, and Ohio State. Henry Domercant is
sixth in the nation with almost 25 points per game. The junior guard also
has won Player of the Week twice this year.
Morehead State: 5-4
Big Win: On 12/5, won 80-72 vs. Wright State. WSU shot 55 percent from the field,
but Morehead was still able to get the win.
Close Call: On 12/18, lost 90-81 in OT at IUPUI. Ricky Minard scored 27
points and Kyle Umberger had 26 points in the tough overtime loss.
Review: The Eagles had won four of their first eight games before losing at
future OVC-member Samford. Sophomore Minard is challenging for the Player of
the Year award with 18.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. One thing that
could hurt Morehead this season is its defense. Opposing teams are shooting
49 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point land.
Tennessee Tech: 5-4
Big Win: On 11/20, won 79-65 vs. South Carolina State. After leading by 17
at halftime, Tech won its first game of the season easily over the Bulldogs.
Close Call: On 12/17, lost 70-66 at Louisville. Rick Pitino and his
Cardinals are now 4-0 vs. OVC teams.
Review: Tech started the season 5-1, but has since lost three road games
against good teams by a total of 17 points. The losses: 87-80 at New Mexico,
70-66 at Louisville, and 89-83 at North Texas. The fourth loss came in the
school’s opener, 72-63 at Tennessee. The Golden Eagles are 4-0 at home in
Cookeville and have tied a school record by winning 18 consecutive games at
the Eblen Center. Sophomore Jason Harrell won his second career Player of
the Week award in early December, while junior transfer Damien Kinloch has
won two Newcomer of the Week awards.
Austin Peay: 5-8
Surprising Loss: On 12/5, lost 75-61 at Arkansas-Little Rock. Ten days
later, APSU got revenge and beat UALR at home by 19 points.
Close Call: On 12/8, lost 77-75 vs. Western Kentucky. Nick Stapleton tied
the game with 10 seconds left, but Derek Robinson won it for WKU with a
rebound and eight-foot put-back at the buzzer.
Review: The Governors really have not beaten any quality teams, with wins
against Arkansas-Monticello, Marian (Ind.), SUNY-Binghamton, Arkansas-Little
Rock and Webster. If Austin Peay can play against OVC teams like it played
against No. 25 Western Kentucky, then this team may have a solid season.
Also, sophomore point guard Gerrell Webster quit the team on 12/7. Webster,
who had started all eight games and averaged 3.3 points and 2.1 assists per
game, indicated that he was leaving the school to be closer to his home of
Tennessee State: 3-6
Big Win: On 11/24, won 101-78 vs. Evansville. The Tigers shot 58 percent from the
field and made 11 of their 21 3-point attempts in front of 450 people at the
Close Call: On 11/27, lost 79-73 at Kansas State. Tennessee State was
leading by 10 early in the second half when the Wildcats woke up and scored
14 straight points and squeaked out a close win.
Review: Whoever said that home court is not an advantage clearly is not
associated with the Tennessee State men’s basketball team. The Tigers are
3-0 at home, but on the road the team is 0-6. Bad news for TSU fans: the
team plays its next five games away from Nashville. Also, the Tigers allow
their opponents to score more than 81 points per game, worst in the
conference. One player who has had a disappointing first two months of the
season is guard Garrett Richardson. The sophomore is only averaging 13
points and 4 assists per game. If he can pick things up and the team defense
improves, then Nolan Richardson III may have a successful second season at
Eastern Kentucky: 3-7
Surprising Losses: Lost two games to Western Illinois.
Review: With wins against Wilmington, Marietta and Transylvania, EKU is
still looking for a big win against an OVC-caliber team. One bright spot has
been the play of freshman Michael Haney. Haney won the Rookie of the Week
award the first week of the season and is third on the team in scoring with
eight points per game and leads the Colonels in rebounding with six rebounds
Southeast Missouri: 1-8
Close Call: On 12/5, lost 76-71 at Vanderbilt. The Indians cut an 18-point
second half deficit to three points with 18 seconds left, but they weren’t
able to capitalize and pull off the shocker.
Review: Things have gotten so bad for the Indians that among the top notes
listed in the team’s most recent press release is this one: Ron Hines,
Southeast sports information director, has worked 613 consecutive basketball
games at the university, the longest streak in Division I basketball. The
lone SeMo win came on 12/8 vs. Division II North Alabama. Two bright spots
have been the play of freshmen Derek Winans and Brett Hale. The guards have
each won the OVC Rookie of the Week award, with Winans winning it in back-to-back weeks last month.