Austin Peay (8-5 | 4-3 OVC) vs. Belmont (16-1 | 10-0 OVC)
Thursday, January 28th, 2021 | 8:00pm CT
Clarksville, TN | Dunn Center | TV: ESPNU
Clarksville, TN – In a matchup that has played out in three of the last six Ohio Valley Conference Basketball Tournament semifinals, Austin Peay State University (APSU) men’s basketball team will host Belmont in front of a national audience on Thursday, January 28th, 2021 in the Dunn Center.
The game will be televised on ESPNU. Tip-off is at 8:00pm.
The Govs welcome in a Belmont outfit that leads the nation with 16 victories in 2020-21; the Bruins are 10-0 in league play to start the season, but a win by the Govs would throw the top half of the league into a state of flux as the calendar readies its turn toward February.
About the Belmont Bruins
On both ends of the floor, Belmont is as complete a team as you’ll find in the Ohio Valley Conference; they’re the only program among the league’s top-three in scoring offense (second, 83.2 ppg) and scoring defense (third, 68.3), befitting a program that has made it to the conference title game three years running.
Preventing Belmont from making it four straight will require a total team effort on the defensive end because the Bruins have weapons. Five Bruins are currently scoring in double figures, led by names familiar (Nick Muszynski, Grayson Murphy) and new (freshman Jacobi Wood and Sewanee transfer Luke Smith) and can work inside or out thanks to the playmaking ability they have at all five positions.
Austin Peay State University will lean into two factors in its favor in this one–rebounding and three-point shooting. Belmont, despite having the 6-11 Muszysnki in the post, is merely okay on the glass (34.8 rpg, -0.1 rebounding margin), while the Govs have the league-leader in Taylor to boost their rebounding efforts (+3.5 margin, surrendering a league-low 30.8 rebounds per game).
And while the Bruins are going to hit from beyond the arc, as they have since the Rick Byrd days, Belmont is also susceptible from distance, surrendering threes at a 34.1 percent mark. Alec Woodard, Carlos Paez, Tai’Reon Joseph and/or Jordyn Adams having huge performances from deep would give Taylor more room to operate on the inside as well.
Austin Peay State University’s Last Game Against Belmont
Reeling from a loss to Tennessee State, Austin Peay State University suffered their first back-to-back losses of the 2019-20 season by falling 71-63 to the Bruins at the Curb Event Center, February 8th.
Terry Taylor had one of the finest performances of his career in defeat, scoring 26 points to go with a career-high and Curb Event Center-record 23 rebounds, making him the first APSU Gov since 2016 with a 20-20 game; he had no small part in the Governors 40-27 advantage on the glass. But the difference came at the line, where Belmont hit 18-of-24 and the Govs were limited to seven makes on 12 attempts.
Keep An Eye On
A win would give the Govs back-to-back home wins against Belmont for the first time since 2004-07.
Mike Peake has come on strong of late, averaging 10.0 points and 4.2 rebounds over his last five with a 68.8 percent shooting mark from the floor.
Ball control has been the name of the game for Austin Peay State University of late; the Govs are averaging 15.5 assists over their last four outings.
20-10 Watch: Accounting for 13 remaining regular-season games and at least one appearance in the OVC Tournament, Taylor needs to average 24.4 points and 13.0 rebounds to average a 20-10 for his career, achieved only by nine players in history with three-plus seasons in the league.
Adams is averaging 12.3 points and 3.7 assists since returning from injury, hitting 48.5 percent (16-for-33) from the floor.
After the bench put up 30 points against Eastern Kentucky, the reserves have combined for just 20 points the last three games, albeit with a limited rotation in the last two contests.
A victory would hand the Bruins their first league loss in 2020-21, leaving no teams unbeaten in OVC play.
Paez is averaging 9.0 points and 5.5 assists over his last five, hitting at least one three in all five games.
Opponents are hitting 50.7 percent from the floor against the Govs over the last four games.
Milestone Watch—Career: Taylor’s next start will tie him with Derek Wright at third all-time with 114 career starts. He also needs 16 shot attempts to pass Otis Howard (1974-78) for fifth all-time and five free-throw attempts to pass Doug Stamper (1961-64) for eighth all-time. With 12 rebounds, he would also become the third player in program history with 1,100 career rebounds.
Milestone Watch—OVC: Taylor is 38 points from passing Marcus Brown (Murray State, 1992-96) and 40 points from passing Jim McDaniels (Western Kentucky, 1968-71) on the league’s all-time scoring list.
Austin Peay Govs in the time of COVID-19
For the 2020-21 season, Austin Peay State University athletics will allow approximately 35 percent capacity in the Dunn Center for home basketball events. There will be no lower bowl seating for fans during the season. The lower level will be limited to players, coaches, and game-day support staff only. Seats will be assigned to create a buffer between groups to ensure social distancing is maintained.
Students seating will be located in sections AA-BB for both men’s and women’s games. Masks or facial coverings are required to enter the Dunn Center. They must remain in place at all times unless eating or drinking. Failure to comply with any of these measures, by fans or media, could result in immediate expulsion from the arena.
Austin Peay State University Govs Online
Check back at LetsGoPeay.com and on Austin Peay’s Official Athletics Facebook page often for up-to-date news about all Governor athletics, as well as the Governor men’s basketball Twitter page (@AustinPeayMBB). Live stats will be available during the game at PeayStats.com, and all home games and Ohio Valley Conference games can be viewed on the ESPN+ app; however, this game against Belmont will carry an ESPNU broadcast designation.