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Govs-Racers: Second place up for grabs

Jimmy Trodglen/Tnsports360.com

By Colby Wilson

APSU Athletics Communications

Clarksville, Tenn. — The Govs and The School Up North renew acquaintances when Austin Peay travels to the CFSB Center for a game against archrival Murray State, 6 p.m., Thursday.

This contest, part of the Heritage Bank Battle of the Border series, will be carried on the CBS Sports Network, Austin Peay’s second national broadcast this season.

The teams will battle for more than bragging rights in this contest; the victor will take over second place in the OVC regular-season race and enhance their chances for one of the coveted double bye’s into the OVC Tournament semifinals. Senior Averyl Ugba, reigning OVC Player of the Week, leads the Govs into the contest off one of the best week’s of his Austin Peay career; he averaged 28.0 ppg and 12.5 rpg last week against UT Martin and Southeast Missouri.

Scouting the Racers

It’s Austin Peay and Murray State, so numbers go out the window in one of the OVC’s oldest rivalries. But front and center in the Governors mind will be finding a way to slow down Murray State’s Jonathan Stark, a volume shooter who leads the league in scoring at 20.3 ppg. In the Racers, the Govs have a peer in defending; Murray State holds opponents to 66.7 ppg and limits opponents to just 27.5 percent of offensive rebounds (third-fewest in the league) and a league-worst 31.7 percent from beyond the arc.

While Stark and veteran Terrell Miller are known and consistent commodities around the league, newcomer Ja Morant has had more to do with the Racers fortunes this season; in 18 wins, Morant has averaged 13.6  ppg, 6.3 rpg and 6.7 apg on 53.0 percent shooting, numbers that fall to 10.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 4.8 apg and 31.1 percent from the floor in losses.

Last Time Against Murray State

After scoring the win in the Dunn Center, Austin Peay visited the CFSB Center and dropped a 102-58 decision, Feb. 11, 2017. After hitting three of their first seven shots, the Govs went ice cold, hitting just 5-of-21 for the rest of the first half. Ausitn Peay’s minus-22 rebounding disadvantage was its worst last season, while the 62 points in the paint given up to the Racers was a season high for an Austin Peay opponent.

Keep An Eye On…

  • A win would give Austin Peay a five-game winning streak for the first time since winning six straight in 2016.
  • Zach Glotta, who hit the go-ahead three in Austin Peay’s win against Murray State two seasons ago, is averaging 9.0 ppg in wins this season; the Govs are 7-0 when Glotta scores 10 or more points.
  • A victory would give the Govs 10 conference wins for the first time since 2010-11.
  • Freshman Terry Taylor (4.13) and senior Averyl Ugba (3.04) rank sixth and 47th in the nation in offensive rebounds per game, joining Duke duo Marvin Bagley III (4.00) and Wendell Carter Jr. (3.17) as the only pair of teammates averaging a combined 7.0 offensive rebounds or more per contest.
  • A win would make the Govs 3-0 in February for the first time since 2004.
  • The Govs have scored 90 or more points in three of their last four games; they have not scored 90 or more four times in a five-game stretch since breaking 90 in four straight games to close out the 1990-91 regular season.
  • A victory would make Matt Figger the first APSU head coach to win his debut in the Austin Peay-Murray State rivalry since 1978 (Ed Thompson) and the first in program history to win his first road game against the Racers.

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