Morgantown, WV – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) men’s basketball team could not overcome a stifling West Virginia defense in a hostile road environment, falling 84-53 to the Mountaineers, Thursday.
The Govs were undone by a drought of stupendous proportions in the first half and a West Virginia unit clearly angered by its season’s first loss over the weekend at St. John’s and looking to take that frustration out on Austin Peay State University.
The Govs actually matched the Mountaineers bucket-for-bucket early, hitting five of their first 10 shots and generally taking everything their hosts were able to dish out. At the 12:34 mark, a Terry Taylor bucket in the paint pulled the Govs within one at 12-11.
On the ensuing possession, a play happened that changed the complexion of the game when Eli Abaev took an elbow to the face, breaking his nose and knocking him out of the game. Without one of their most reliable rebounders and fast-twitch athletes, the Govs would struggle to keep West Virginia off the glass.
After that 5-for-10 start to the night from the floor, the Govs went ice-cold, hitting just four of their next 26 shots. By the time the Govs were able to right the ship offensively, West Virginia had largely pulled away.
Of individual performances, there were a few bright spots in red. Taylor finished with 19 points and six rebounds and looked every bit the player he’s known to be within the league. Sophomore Antwuan Butler attacked the hoop over and over again, picking up a career-high 14 points and four steals. Carlos Paez hit the lone three of the evening for the Govs and finished with seven points.
Rebounding was the start of the troubles, but by no means the end. West Virginia, behind 10-board efforts from Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Oscar Tshiebwe, outrebounded the Govs 50-28, but it goes deeper than that.
The Mountaineers grabbed more offensive rebounds (19) than the Govs managed defensive rebounds (18), leading to a 20-8 discrepancy in second-chance points—the first time this season an opponent garnered more second chance points than the Govs. It also marked the first time since November 13th, 2015 against Vanderbilt that an opponent grabbed 50 rebounds in regulation against the Govs.
Butler’s four steals are tied for most by a Gov in a single game this season, along with his four-steal effort in Tulsa. He’s now averaging 11.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 assists over the last three games.
This is the first time the APSU Govs have been held below 60 points since February 1st, 2018 at UT Martin.
Paez is now averaging 11.5 points on 52.0 percent (13-of-25) from the floor and 62.5 percent (10-of-16) from three over the last four games.
The loss is Austin Peay State University’s seventh straight on the road—longest since a nine-gamer to open the 2016-17 season.
Taylor is averaging 24.2 points and 9.6 rebounds on 64.1 percent (52-for-81) from the floor, with 2.0 blocks and 1.4 steals over the last five games.
In their five losses, the Govs are now hitting 39.1 percent (119-of-279) from the floor, as opposed to 53.5 percent in wins.
The Govs were credited with just three assists, their fewest in a single game since the 2015-16 season opener at Vanderbilt.
Taylor passed Adrian Henning for 12th all-time in rebounds (664) and Jim Beshears for 19th all-time in field goal attempts (994).
Coaching Quotables with APSU Head Coach Matt Figger
On playing West Virgini
“The thing about playing a Coach (Bob) Huggins team is that they play with a lot of toughness and grit. They’re very unique because they’re very old school and they challenge you every play, offensively and defensively. They’re gonna punch you in the mouth and they knocked all our teeth out tonight.”
On moving on
“You tell them the truth. You tell them you weren’t very good, you got embarrassed and you didn’t fight. That’s the truth. When they get more offensive rebounds than you get defensive rebounds, that’s a reflection of the character of your career. We’re so young and fragile, I can’t afford to lose my starters, and losing Abaev after the first few minutes of the game limits us in terms of who can give us minutes from those spots.”
Up Next for APSU Govs
The final home non-conference contest for Austin Peay State University is on deck when the Govs welcome Division II McKendree into the Dunn Center for a 7:00pm, Tuesday matchup.