Huge OVC Saturday
(St. Louis, MO) – Ohio Valley Conference teams have some final opportunities to make a big splash in the non-conference portion of the season. Saturday’s schedule provides rare multiple opportunities for national exposure.
Two OVC teams travel to ‘power 5’ campuses. Southeast Missouri gets a shot at Kansas State and UT Martin travels to Mississippi State.
SEMO @ K-State – 7:00 pm – ESPN3
SEMO (6-4) has won four straight games including a rare win at Southern Illinois. They’ve been playing without Justin Carpenter (concussion) and the freshman power forward is questionable for Saturday’s game. The Redhawks are receiving dynamic play from reigning ‘Freshman of the Year’ Denzel Mahoney who is scoring 19 points-per-game and grabbing over four rebounds per contest. His shooting percentages are spectacular (.525 – .471 – .800) and he is a match up problem for any SEMO opponent.
Ladarrius Brewer is a candidate to take that top freshman crown this season. The 6’5 Brewer is second on the team at 12.9 ppg and leads the Redhawks with 21 treys. Daniel Simmons (12.0) and Carpenter (10.6) give coach Rick Ray four solid offensive options.
A recent Tulsa loss, snapped a four-game winning streak for K-State (8-2). The Wildcats counter with four double-digit scorers of their own in Kamao Stokes (14.9), Barry Brown (14.3), Dean Wade (13.0 & 6.6 rebounds) and St. Louisian Xavier Sneed (11.4). K-State’s 165 RPI will only get better as the season wears on and this game (win or lose) will strengthen SEMO’s 249 status.
UT Martin @ Mississippi State – 7:00 pm – SEC Network Plus
The Skyhawks (3-7) have struggled this season. Scoring 219 points and winning their last two games have been a breath of fresh air, but they are 1-6 on the road and their schedule has not been an easy one. Losses at Illinois (by 3 points), at LSU and at Marshall (by 9) were top flight games on Anthony Stewart’s schedule.
Leading scorer Matthew Butler has been amazingly consistent. He has scored between 16 and 20 points in nine of the ten UTM contests on his way to an average of 17.3 points per game. The 6’2 senior is also handing out over three assists per game.
Fatodd Lewis has been a bit more meteoric. He’s reached double figures six times including three of 23 or more points, and recorded a triple-double on December 10th with 34 points, 16 rebounds and 12 helpers. The 6’8 junior was also held scoreless in the opener and has had two eight point performances and one six point affair.
Mississippi State (8-1) defeated OVC member Jacksonville State by three points and won their first eight games of the season before losing to nationally ranked Cincinnati. With four players that average between 11 and 13 points per game the Bulldogs are a balanced scoring team. Ben Howland is turning the program into a legit contender in the Southeastern Conference.
Austin Peay @ Evansville – 3:00 pm – ESPN3
While not a game with national implications, the Governors and the Purple Aces are each looking to build some momentum and prove they are better than what observers believe.
APSU (4-5) hasn’t played since they put a scare into Illinois before losing by seven to their Big Ten foe. UE (8-2) has been a great outside shooting team, but this will be their first game without Dru Smith. He was picking up the slack for the loss of leading scorer Ryan Taylor to an injury and now Smith (stress fracture) joins Taylor on the side-lines.
Matt Figger’s Governors have the OVC’s fourth best scoring defense and third best 3-point percentage defense lead the league with 10.1 steals per game. Two freshmen (Terry Taylor and Dayton Gumm) are leading the way. The APSU rookies combined to snare three-straight ‘Freshman of the Week’ awards earlier this season.
They both average just under 13 points per game and Austin Peay is catching Marty Simmons’ team at the right time for and OVC/MVC upset.