APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – Kenny Jones scored a season-high 23 points, but it was junior guard Josh Robinson who sealed the verdict with a pair of free throws with eight seconds left as Austin Peay State University held off Samford, 74-73, in non-conference basketball action, Saturday night, in Dave Aaron Arena.
The victory was the third straight for the 3-4 Governors, who halted 5-2 Samford’s five-game winning streak in the process.Jones, who scored 15 points in APSU’s victory last Sunday against Northern Colorado, surpassed that total in the first half.
The 6-6 junior from South Bend, Indiana, was on the receiving end of fastbreak passes against the Samford press as well as the Bulldogs’ focus on fellow frontcourter Chris Horton. He tallied 18 first-half points on 8-of-9 shooting (he finished 10 of 12). As a result, APSU built a 42-30 halftime advantage.
“Kenny gave us a big lift,” APSU coach Dave Loos said. “He is so quick down there on the baseline—that is his strong suit. He has good quickness and is bouncy. He was able to get behind the defense. Unquestionably he was the guy who really got us going.”
But Samford didn’t win this week’s Mean Green Showcase without facing adversity. The Bulldogs, who fell behind by as much as 15 points early in the second half, came storming back using a multitude of runs—one of 6-0 and another 8-0—to trim APSU’s lead to four, 54-50, with just under 12 minutes remaining.
“We knew they were going to make a run—they are too good a team not to.” Loos said. “We knew that it was coming. I did like the way we handled it. Our guard play at the point was pretty good, in particular Terrell (Thompson). They did a good job of keeping things under control while advancing the ball.”
From the second second-half media timeout on would see the Govs would rebuild the lead back to nine on two occasions and to eight on another. The latter occasion came with 1:48 left when Josh Robinson hit a pair of free throws to make it a 70-62 game. But Matt Rose answered with a layup and then followed with a three pointer and the lead was cut to three, 70-67, with 51 seconds left.
But Robinson responded with a driving left-handed layup with 22 seconds left to put the game at 72-67. But the Govs fouled Jamal Shabazz, who made five three pointers on the night after coming in shooting just 22 percent from behind the arc, attempting a three pointer. He converted all three to make it a two-point game.
Robinson was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass and calmly went to the line with eight ticks left, sinking both free throws to give APSU a 74-70 lead. Shabazz, who finished with a game-high 24 points, made an inconsequential three pointer at the buzzer for the final margin.
“It was important we control the pace of the game,” Loos said. “Attack the press and look for something for something easy but make good decisions. Last year against Samford we did just the opposite in the first half. They got us playing on the run; we settled for a lot of jump shots and that led to our demise.
“This year we attacked, got it where we wanted and made good decisions. As a result we had a good shooting percentage, especially early.”
In addition to Jones, three other Govs scored in double figures. Robinson finished with 15 points, including five second-half free throws while Khalil Davis added 13 and Chris Horton 12. Horton, the preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference selection, overcame a difficult shooting night to record his season’s fifth double-double (12 points, 14 rebounds) and 41st in his career. Thompson, meanwhile, failed to score but finished with a season-high five assists from the point-guard position.
After losing some close games to IPFW and Cal Poly, the Governors executed down the stretch to hold off the Bulldogs, who also got double digits from Christen Cunningham (13 points), Rose (13) and Darius Jones-Gibson (10).
“”I think it (winning the close game) is really important,” Loos said. “Every time you have that-type success it builds confidence. These are tremendous reps for what is coming when we get to the OVC so when you face these things, like someone making a run at you and you can hold them off, I think it is really good for the confidence of our players.”
Kenny Jones scored a career-high 23 points to help the Governors push their win streak to three games with a 74-73 win against Samford.
Austin Peay (3-4) 74, Samford (5-2) 73
Austin Peay 74