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Govs take over first in OVC

Robert Smith/Tnsports360.com

By Colby Wilson

APSU Athletics Communications

EDWARDVSILLE, Ill. — It’s an odd sensation, to characterize an 18-point win as workmanlike.

And yet, that’s the dominance that Austin Peay has begun to exhibit. After handling SIU Edwardsville 78-60—and minutes later, after watching Eastern Illinois finish a furious comeback to topple Murray State—the Govs are now in sole possession of the Ohio Valley Conference lead, on the back of a wire-to-wire win that saw the Govs band together defensively and put away their upstart hosts.

At 19-9, the Govs are one win away from back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 2006-07 and 2007-08.

It didn’t take long for the Governor offense to get in gear—an 8-0 run, featuring a heavy dose of Evan Hinson, put Austin Peay up 15-4 less than six minutes into the contest.

A difference-maker emerged in the form of Matheus Silveira off the bench. On back-to-back trips, Silveira earned and-one opportunities and hit all three first-half buckets, posting a season-high seven points in just over four minutes of action—he finished with nine for the game.

The Governors maintained a comfortable if not commanding lead for most of the half—from the 14-minute mark onward, Austin Peay never led by more than 15 points or less than seven. Most impressive was the variety of the contributions. Hinson got involved. Silveira picked up big minutes. Terry Taylor and Jordyn Adams were reliable options, as is custom. Six Govs scored at least five points in the first half and Austin Peay headed into halftime with a comfortable 44-31 lead on their hosts. 

SIU Edwardsville spent much of the second half hanging around that same 10-point deficit, annoyingly refusing to be put away. A 9-4 Cougar run even made it an eight-point game with eight minutes to play.

And then the Govs did what good teams do—they put the game away. A 10-0 Austin Peay run, aided by threes from Hinson and Alec Woodard, ballooned the lead to a game-high 18 points with 3:33 to play and at that point, the only part of the game remaining to be determined was the final deficit. Four Govs finished in double figures, led by Eli Abaev for the first time in his career with 19 points. Taylor, Adams and Hinson also reached double figures.

While often there is an offensive catalyst, in this contest the defense set the tone. Only one Cougar reached double figures as a swarming Austin Peay unit held SIU Edwardsville to 38.9 percent from the floor and 25.0 percent from beyond the arc.

The Difference

Austin Peay and SIU Edwardsville weren’t far apart in total turnovers (12 for the Govs, 13 for the Cougars), but once again it was the Govs that made those miscues count. Austin Peay picked up 19 points off turnover, compared to just six for the hosts.

Notably

  • The Govs have now won 11 straight against SIU Edwardsville, their longest active streak against an OVC foe.
  • Six Govs finished with multiple assists, led by Antwuan Butler with five.
  • The Govs hit 50.0 percent (28-for-56) from the floor Thursday night, their first time hitting 50 percent since Feb. 1.
  • Abaev posted back-to-back double-doubles for the first time in his Austin Peay career. He’s now averaging 8.8 boards over the last eight games.
  • Hinson is averaging 12.0 points over the last three games and 9.1 over the last seven.
  • The win is Austin Peay’s fifth road victory in 2019-20, their third straight season with at least five home wins.
  • For the seventh time this year and second game in a row, Taylor recorded multiple blocks and steals.
  • The Govs are now 14-0 this season when outshooting their opponent.
  • Referee Jimmy Dyehouse called his final Division I contest.
  • Over the last three games, Austin Peay is averaging:
    • 42.7 points in the paint.
    • 19.0 points off turnover
    • 14.3 fast-break points
  • Milestone Watch: Taylor became the second player in program history to record 1800 points and 800 rebounds in his career, joining Tom Morgan. He also tied Joe Williams and Lamonte Ware for sixth all-time in blocked shots with 102.

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