Austin Peay (11-15) at Morehead State (18-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 19, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ellis Johnson Arena (6,500) -- Morehead, Kentucky. Television: None. Home Record: APSU 8-5, MSU 8-3. Away Record: APSU 2-9, MSU 9-5. Neutral Record: APSU 1-1, MSU 1-1. Conference Record: APSU 5-7, MSU 9-3. Series Record: Morehead State leads, 52-51.
GAME NOTES: The Morehead State Eagles gear up for a showdown with the Murray State Racer this weekend by hosting the Austin Peay Governors in an Ohio Valley Conference clash on Wednesday night.
With four games left in the regular season, Morehead State is very much alive in OVC title chase. The Eagles have won four straight games, three of which came on the road, to improve to 18-9 overall and 9-3 in league play. They are currently trailing Murray State and Belmont, who are tied for first place in the conference standings by one and a half games. They will have a chance to move closer on Saturday when they challenge the Racers.
Austin Peay's aspirations for this contest and the rest of the season are more grounded, with the Governors sitting just 11-15 overall, including a middling 5-7 ledger against the rest of the OVC. They have traded wins and losses over their last six games, with the most recent decision being an 83-68 setback against SIU Edwardsville. They will play their final home game of the season this Saturday against Eastern Kentucky.
This is the only scheduled meeting between these two teams this season. There was also just a single matchup between them last year, when Austin Peay claimed an 84-81 victory. The Eagles had won three straight prior to that decision, and they lead the all-time series by a razor thin margin (52-51).
Travis Betran scored a game-high 19 points, but it was one of the few advantages the Governors enjoyed in their loss to SIUE. Austin Peay connected on just 41.2 percent from the floor, compared to a 57.1 percent effort from the Cougars.
Normally Austin Peay is able to find good shots and sink them with regularity, with the team ranking 15th in the country in field goal percentage (.486). However, the Governors have not helped themselves much on defense, letting up 77.5 ppg on 45.6 percent shooting. Betran (14.2 ppg) is one of three double- digit scorers on the roster. He might be the leader in scoring, but he shoots just 37.4 percent from the field. Chris Horton (13.2 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.1 bpg) anchors the team down low, and he leads the conference in blocks while ranking third in rebounding. Then there is Will Triggs (12.1 ppg), who adds some much- needed scoring punch. However, assists leader Demarius Smith (8.9 ppg, 5.9 apg) is listed as questionable for this bout with an ankle injury.
Morehead State had no issue on the road against Tennessee Tech last Saturday, rolling to a 79-53 victory. The Eagles knocked down 55.1 percent of their total shots and outscored their opponents, 46-30, in the paint. Drew Kelly scored a game-high 18 points to lead the way.
The Eagles are a solid offensive team, but they are certainly not prone to huge point totals. They are netting a respectable 77.7 ppg on 45.4 percent shooting this season. Where they really excel is on the glass, as they lead the OVC and rank 21st nationally in rebounding (39.2 rpg). Chad Posthumus (9.9 ppg, 11.5 rpg) is the man to thank for their dominance down low, as he is tied for second in the country in cleaning the glass. While Posthumus also lends help in the scoring department, it is Angelo Warner (17.2 ppg) and Brent Arrington (11.6 ppg) that are the most productive offensive weapons, with Kelly (10.4 ppg) working his way into the fray as well.
Morehead State has proven more than capable of handling its business on the road (9-5). Against an Austin Peay team that could be without one of its main contributors, the Eagles will just need to remain focused and not look ahead to Saturday's pivotal showdown.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Morehead State 78, Austin Peay 72
02/19 10:36:43 ET