Murray State at Austin Peay (Ohio Valley)Winfield Dunn Center - Clarksville, TN8:30 PM EST
Hot times in the OVC, the conference that loves conference play so much it drafted up a 20-game schedule, with all 11 teams playing home-and-home with each other. Good thing, too, because it's worth watching Eastern Illinois and Jacksonville State (4 combined wins) battle it out twice just to ensure we get this matchup more than once. At the moment, both teams are 9-3 with eight games to go before March.
Murray has the upper hand in the season series (and the tiebreaker) because of a convincing 82-70 home win
on Jan. 10, a game in which the Racers shot 56 percent and outrebounded the Govs by seven. But that was a single brick in the Racers' current eight-game win streak, which began on Jan. 5 and has officially made the past four weeks Murray Month(!). They've done it with efficient offense, stingy defense, and balanced scoring spookily reminiscent of the team's 2006 NCAA run, where they might have upset North Carolina if not for an early-game injury to star Shawn Witherspoon.
The Racers lost by four. But Billy Kennedy's been the coach for the past two seasons after Mick Cronin jumped to Cincinnati, and the rebound from that senior-laden 2006 team has been quick indeed.
Then there's Austin Peay, which you might remember from being crumpled on the floor after a devastating 2007 OVC title game loss to Eastern Kentucky, a 63-62 final sealed by a runner with four ticks to go by EKU freshman Josh Taylor. Everything APSU has done since has been guided by that heartbreak, and 6-5 junior Drake Reed
has followed up his breakout sophomore season with more good numbers, scoring 15.8 ppg on nearly 50 percent shooting. Tonight at home, the 2007 near-champs will try to wrest control of the league from the 2006 champs, but recent history indicates it might be an uphill battle. MSU has won six of the last seven meetings.Basketball State Preview/Box