Clarksville, TN – It’s time to start questioning if this version of Dave Loos’ Austin Peay men’s basketball team has the heart, desire, intestinal fortitude and straight up basketball IQ and ability to scare anybody in the Ohio Valley Conference anymore. And honestly, real and true Governors’ fans already know the answer and probably have since last year, when the team that started the OVC season 6-0 turned into this unrecognizable group that’s 13-11 since.
And it was the way the Govs played in first three minutes of the second half in the 94-88 loss Thursday night to Tennessee Tech that typified the season Loos’ squad has been having. Austin Peay went in at halftime leading 36-33 and while it wasn’t a perfectly played first 20 minutes the Govs were doing the things they needed to do, i.e., rebounding and not limiting the effects their turnovers could have. The Govs were outrebounding Tech 21-19 at the break and while they had 10 turnovers, the Golden Eagles had scored just 12 points off them.
That all changed in the second half, as Tech outrebounded the Govs 21-15 to win the battle 40-36 overall and more important scored 15 points off APSU’s nine miscues. So all told Tennessee Tech outscored the Govs 27-15 off turnovers and outrebounded them 40-36. But the most telling sign of Tech’s win was how the Golden Eagles outscored the Govs 17-2 on fast break points for the game, including a 9-0 shutout in the second half.
“I thought we played pretty well in the first half but we come out in the second half, actually even in the first half they get a significant amount more on fast break points than us, because we keep turning the ball over and our turnovers led directly to baskets, easy baskets. The second half, the same thing. We come out, we’ve got a three-point lead, we turn it over and it leads into baskets. The point is we’re really not giving ourselves a chance to win. The effort was good … but we’re not giving ourselves the chance to win.”
After John Fraley, who’s been playing like a stud lately and did so again with his career-high 31 points and the double-double with 17 rebounds, scored the first basket of the second half with 19:12 left in the game and gave the Govs a 38-33 it all went south for APSU.
Tech’s Kevin Murphy, who was just as deadly as Fraley and scored a game-high 33 points, sank a 3-pointer and cut it to 38-36 with 18:47 left. Fraley missed a shot and Murphy came down and drained another 3. The Govs then committed back-to-back turnovers and Murphy connected from long range again and Liam Morrow dunked after the second miscue with 17:28 to play and gave Tech control of the game 44-38.
And really it was all over for APSU after that as they never got closer than three points the rest of the way.
So what do we say about this Govs team? Well they certainly don’t look like one that’s going to be a factor in the OVC Tournament, really doesn’t seem like they’re going to earn a bye and probably will have to play in the first round and unfortunately I’m not so sure they’ll win that game.
This team has a lot of soul searching to do, because teams that are picked to win a league are supposed to carry themselves a certain way and unfortunately these Govs look like they’re just going through the motions. And it’s a shame, because this group is so talented. They just need to play like they’ve got some heart.