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Govs will try to continue road momentum

By Colby Wilson

APSU Athletics Communications

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. —Austin Peay is set for the return trip to the Nashville pairing of the Ohio Valley Conference, beginning with a 7:30 p.m., Thursday rematch with Tennessee State at the Gentry Center.

The Govs and Tigers will square off on ESPN3 as part of a day-night doubleheader; the women’s contest begins at 11 a.m. as part of Education Day.

Journeying to the Gentry Center has been tough this season, as only Eastern Kentucky on Jan. 18 has taken a win from the Tigers at home. The Govs have just five wins in 15 attempts against the Tigers on the road since the turn of the century.

Scouting the Tigers

The strength of Tennessee State’s depth was not displayed in the previous meeting this season, when the Tigers were down to just eight active players. Wesley Harris was missed even more than anticipated during the four-game stretch he missed, including the contest against the Govs–he returned just last weekend and averaged 12.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in wins against Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State. The short lineup did kick off a renaissance for Emmanuel Ogbuta, who is averaging 12.0 points and 4.8 rebounds on 64.5 percent since the Govs and Tigers tipped it up on Jan. 23.

What was true before the last meeting is still true today–Tennessee State commits a bunch of turnovers (386 overall, 16.8 per game, both among the nation’s bottom-15) and commits a bunch of fouls (485 total, 21.1 per game, both among the nation’s bottom-15). While a fully-operational Tiger unit can overcome the foul issues, Austin Peay will look to force more turnovers than the 10 TSU committed in the previous contest, second-fewest by the turnover-prone Tigers in 2019-20.

But if they aren’t fouling or turning the ball over, the Tigers can score with anyone. Tennessee State is among the nation’s top-100 in scoring (74.9 ppg, 89th), field goal percentage (47.8 percent, 20th), three-point field goal percentage (35.5 percent, 77th) and offensive rebounds (11.35 orpg, 82nd). Keep an eye out for Michael Littlejohn in this one; the sharpshooter who hits 43.0 percent from deep and makes nearly three three-pointers per game was held to just three points in the previous meeting between the Govs and Tigers.

Last Time Out Against Tennessee State

A Tennessee State squad ravaged by illness is not the greatest indiciator of what the 2019-20 Tigers have been. Missing not only Wesley Harris but a host of key reserves who had the active lineup down to eight players, the Tigers were no match for the Govs in a 99-74 Austin Peay victory back on January 23. Terry Taylor and Jordyn Adams had matching 37-point efforts, with Taylor setting a Dunn Center record for threes without a miss (six) and the Govs committed just four turnovers, their fewest in a single game since 2009.

Keep An Eye On…

  • A win would make the Govs 11-0 in league play for the first time since 2003-04.
  • The Govs have risen to 17th in the most recent CollegeInsiders.com Mid-Major Top-25.
  • A win would give Austin Peay a five-game road win streak, its longest since an eight-gamer during the 2003-04 campaign.
  • With Carlos Paez and Antwuan Butler are in the starting lineup together, the Govs are 10-1, with the duo averaging 2.3 turnovers in 56 combined minutes, at 3.48-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • In OVC play, the Govs are now plus-3.1 in turnover margin and plus-5.0 in rebounding margin.
  • Austin Peay sank 14 three-pointers at a 50.0 percent (14-for-28) clip in the Jan. 23 contest against Tennessee State, both season-highs.
  • Terry Taylor is always good, all the time. But when the Govs win, Taylor is a monster. His average in victory this season: 23.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.3 steals, 63.1 percent from the floor, 40.0 percent from three and 77.4 percent at the free-throw line.
  • Milestone Watch: Taylor needs just six points to pass Otis Howard (1974-78) and Chris Horton (2012-16) for fifth all-time in career scoring. He needs three blocked shots to move into eighth all-time and six to become just the eight player in program history to accumulate 100 blocked shots for his career.

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