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Governors next road test at UT Martin

APSU Men’s Basketball

Austin Peay State University GovernorsMartin, TN – On the surface Austin Peay’s bid to open the 2010-11 Ohio Valley Conference at 6-0 would seem to be a mismatch when the Governors face UT Martin, 6:00pm, Monday.

The Governors come in amidst a five-game winning streak and already have won three league road games after ending Murray State’s 25-game home winning streak, 66-64, Saturday.

Meanwhile, UT Martin enters the contest amidst a five-game losing streak and is winless in the OVC at 0-5.

APSU Governors Basketball (Courtesy: Austin Peay Sports Information)
APSU Governors Basketball (Courtesy: Austin Peay Sports Information)

But the Govs cannot be fooled by the UTM record. This Skyhawks version is much improved over last season’s near-disastrous campaign (4-25 overall/1-17 OVC). The Skyhawks already have as many wins this season as last. Defending OVC champ Murray State had to come from behind in the second half to defeat the Skyhawks back in December. UTM also narrowly lost at Tennessee, 68-62. Then this past Saturday, they came so close to that first 2010-11 OVC win, falling 67-64 to Tennessee.State, which is currently tied for second place.

The Skyhawks improvement over 2009-10 can be attested largely to a trio of freshmen. Mike Liabo, a 6-6 guard, is averaging 10.8 ppg while Terrence Smith, a 6-3 guard, is at 10.4 ppg with 6-6 forward Troy King at 8.3 ppg. They are a part of a freshmen class that offers UTM hope not only for this season’s remainder but for the future as well. Meanwhile, veterans Reuben Clayton (12.5 ppg) and Benzor Simmons (11.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg)) are still around.

Justin BlakeThe Governors, meanwhile, will attempt to maintain the momentum that they started building prior to the Christmas break. The Governors are amidst their first five-game winning streak since the 2007-08 season. Defense has helped key the surge.

In fact, APSU held Murray State to only 42.1 percent (24 of 57) shooting, the Racers worst shooting performance since losing to Oklahoma State back in November. It was the sixth time in the last seven games APSU has held the opposition to less than 45 percent shooting.

Offensively against the Racers, the Governors finally got the perimeter output they had seeking from sophomore guard Justin Blake. A year ago, Blake was an OVC force from the outside, but a preseason groin injury slowed his progress. He nailed five three pointers against Murray State to finish with a game-high 15 points.

What You Should Know…

The Series: This is the 88th meeting between the two Ohio Valley Conference foes, Austin Peay and UT Martin, with the Governors holding a decisive 63-24 advantage. The Governors won both of last season’s contests, 90-72 in Clarksville, January 7th, 2010 and 74-69, February 4th in Martin.

What A Win Would Mean: The Govs would rise six games above the .500 mark at 12-6 before heading to Tennessee State, Saturday. It would extend the Govs season-best winning streak to six games…it would be APSU’s first 6-0 OVC start since the 2007-08 team opened at 6-0. It would give the Govs a 3-0 record in January. It would give the Govs a 6-4 road record. It would give the Govs a 4-0 OVC road record. It would give the Govs three straight wins in the series and victories in 10 of the last 11 meetings. It also would be Loos’ 425th career college coaching win and 343rd APSU victory.

What A Loss Would Mean: The Govs would drop back to four games above the .500 mark at 11-7. It would snap the Govs winning streak at five games. It would be the Govs’ first OVC road defeat. It would snap the Govs’ two-game winning streak in the series. It would drop APSU to 63-25 all-time in the series.  It would be Loos’ 336th all-time loss and 282nd APSU defeat. It would drop Dave Loos to 26-11 all-time against UT Martin. It would be Dave Loos’ first loss in three games against UT Martin coach Jason James.

Next Game

Saturday, January 15th at 3:00pm, ESPNU

Gentry Center, Nashville, TN – Tennessee State snapped a three-game losing streak, Saturday, by defeating UT Martin, 67-64. The win improved TSU to 4-2 in the OVC. If the Govs’ 5-0 start is the OVC’s top story this season, TSU’s 4-2 second-place record may be the second-best story under secondyear coach John Cooper. The Tigers were picked to finish seventh in preseason OVC polls. A key addition  has been 6-7 forward Kenny Moore (14.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg), a Midland CC teammate of TyShwan Edmondson. Forward Robert Covington (13.5 ppg) is back and Patrick Miller (11.2 ppg) is the leading freshman scorer.


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