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Bowling Green, KY – Expectations have been sky-high for Austin Peay State University (APSU) men’s basketball team entering the regular season with back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semifinal appearances and the preseason OVC Player of the Year on the roster.
Something to keep in mind, as Saturday’s 97-75 loss at Western Kentucky might have indicated, is that this is a team comprised largely of freshmen.
Five players entered this season with Division I experience, and only three of those got it in an Austin Peay State University uniform.
The talent is jaw-dropping; but there are still a lot of young players learning how to play Division I basketball on the fly.
Like Saturday. At various times, a spectator could look up and see four first-time Division I players on the court with, say, Terry Taylor. There’s gonna be a learning curve; Game Two is not a referendum on anything, any more than a 43-point demolition of a Division II team was in the season opener.
Which is good, because Game Two was something of a struggle. The first 12 minutes or so saw the Govs mark the Hilltoppers shot-for-shot. Antwuan Butler was fearless in his attack of the rim, hurling his diminutive frame into the paint to either draw defenders, draw a foul or get a bucket. When he sank two free-throws at the 7:20 mark, the Govs trailed by just five.
Butler also was fearless away from the rack, not backing down when he and 6-11 All-American Charles Bassey got tangled up and jawing, which resulted in a double-technical, ensued. However, the Hilltoppers closed the half on an 18-7 run to take a 41-25 lead into halftime.
Austin Peay State University’s chances for a second-half comeback were severely hampered in the opening minutes out of halftime; the Hilltoppers were in the bonus by the 17:16 mark, with both Butler and backup point guard Carlos Paez with three apiece.
Taylor had 22 points, including 18 in the second half, and seven rebounds in his return to Bowling Green. Butler finished with 13 points and five assists.
The shooting discrepancy from the floor (39.7 percent for the Govs, 60.0 percent by the Hilltoppers) explains a lot, but perhaps even more problematic was the rebounding edge. Statistically, it was fairly close—37-28, in favor of the Hilltoppers—but dig deeper and Austin Peay grabbed just eight defensive rebounds. That mark is the lowest since at least November 28th, 2014 against Stephen F. Austin, when the Govs grabbed 11 defensive boards.
Butler scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time in his Austin Peay State University career, equaling the career-high established Tuesday against Oakland City. He’s also hit eight straight free-throws to start the season after a 7-for-7 showing at the line on Saturday.
Butler led the Govs in assists for the 10th time in his APSU career.
Ninety-seven points are the most allowed by the Govs in the Figger era.
Taylor passed Will Triggs for 14th all-time in rebounds (598) and moved into the top-five all-time with 253 offensive boards.
The loss is Austin Peay State University’s 10th straight to the Hilltoppers and ninth straight in the road opener.
Coaching Quotables with APSU Head Coach Matt Figger
On what he takes from the game
Up Next for the Govs
Austin Peay State University men’s basketball has a week off before hitting the road again when the Govs travel to Oklahoma to take on Tulsa. The APSU Govs and Golden Hurricane square off 2:00pm, November 16th, at the Reynolds Center.
TopicsAntwuan Butler, APSU, APSU Athletics, APSU Basketball, APSU Men's Basketball, APSU Sports, Austin Peay State University, Carlos Paez, Governors, Govs, Hilltoppers, Matt Figger, Ohio Valley Conference, OVC, Terry Taylor, Tulsa, Western Kentucky, Will Triggs
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