Stifling defense gives Austin Peay Govs an edge in thrilling win against Jacksonville State
APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – It was a good Saturday night for Austin Peay State University men’s basketball.
Thanks to a thrilling 60-57 win against Jacksonville State (18-11, 9-7 OVC) and some movement around the conference, the Governors (16-12, 11-5 OVC) find themselves all alone in third place in the Ohio Valley Conference standings, two games clear of their closest competition after the Gamecocks, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech all suffered losses.
Austin Peay Men’s Basketball beats Jacksonville State 60-57 on Military Appreciation Night at the Dunn Center Saturday night. (APSU Sports Information)
The Gamecocks entered the Military Appreciation Night contest as league-leaders in points allowed per game and 19th nationally in opposing field goal percentage, but it was the Governors who put the clamps down defensively in the early going.
Jacksonville State hit just one of its first 15 shots from the floor, allowing Austin Peay to take a 19-8 lead at the 7:31 mark.
Following their early doldrums, the visitors hit three consecutive shots to get on track and finished the half hitting six of their final 10 attempts.
Still, the Governors were able to enter the break with a comfortable 10-point lead, with senior Tre’ Ivory drilling a three-pointer moments before the end of the half.
A 14-4 Gamecock run to open the second half completely erased the Austin Peay advantage; as poorly as Jacksonville State shot in the first half, the Gamecocks hit eight of their first 10 attempts in the second. The Govs were able to stem the tide by hitting five straight from the floor, pushing the Austin Peay lead back to eight at the eight-minute mark in the half.
The momentum swung back-and-forth down the stretch, with Jacksonville State narrowing the lead to two points on a Marlon Hunter layup and a Christian Cunningham free-throw with 53 seconds left. Close and late, the game came down to free-throws, and the Govs had Zach Glotta.
The O’Fallon, Missouri native scored six of his 11 points at the stripe, including a clutch point with eight seconds left to push the advantage back to three points. A Jason Burnell three-pointer with mere seconds to go hit the iron and the Govs earned their 11th conference win for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign.
In a contest this close, free-throws can and often do make all the difference. The Govs hit 70.0 percent (14-of-20) of their second-half attempts, while Jacksonville State was just 50.0 percent (11-of-22) overall, 6-of-12 in the second half.
The Govs earned back-to-back wins against the Gamecocks for the first time since winning 11 in a row from 2007-12, and swept the season series against Jacksonville State for the first time since 2011.
Freshman Terry Taylor passed Larry Noble (1968-69) for fifth all-time in single-season scoring by a freshman with 423 points; next on the list is Sam Drummer (1975-76) at 451.
Austin Peay registered just 20 points in the paint, a season-low.
Junior Chris Porter-Bunton snared a career-high five steals, becoming the first Gov with a five-steal night since Jan. 21, 2017.
Austin Peay’s reserves broke the 20-point barrier for the fifth straight game, averaging 23.0 ppg over that stretch.
The Govs are now 10-2 when holding their opponent below 45 percent shooting; Jacksonville State hit 42.9 percent (21-of-49) from the floor.
Glotta reached double figures for the 10th time this season, with the Govs 8-2 in those contests. He’s averaging 13.2 ppg over his last five games.
Seven opponents have scored fewer than 60 points against the Govs this season; Austin Peay is 7-0 in those games. Austin Peay had held just seven opponents below 60 points in the previous four seasons put together.
The Govs have won 13 straight games when holding their opponent below 60 points, dating back to 2013 (Vanderbilt, Dec. 13, 58-56).
Senior Averyl Ugba finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for his season’s eighth double-double and first since Feb. 1. He’s reached double figures in scoring in eight straight games, averaging 18.8 ppg over that time. Ugba’s averaging 18.3 ppg in wins this season and 10.8 ppg in losses.
The Govs picked up their first victory this season when being outrebounded by an opponent.
Coaching Quotables with Head Coach Matt Figger
On the win
“We needed it. It was a do-or-die situation for us; we knew we were all jockeying for position. I didn’t think we played very well against Tennessee Tech and we did a much better job of keeping Jacksonville State from getting to their spots. We got the lead and made it hard on them; give them a lot of credit, they’ve been to the NCAA Tournament, they’ve got guys who know how to win and they’ve got a lot of resolve.”
On the bench
“As mad as I was at Steve Harris against Tennessee Tech, I thought he responded in the first half and gave us a lift off the bench. Richard Henderson responded and gave us a big lift off the bench. Zach, he’s like our sixth starter and plays valuable minutes. Across the board, all the guys who played substantial minutes did a great job.”
On preparation and focus
“I thought our guys did an unbelievable job tonight. We beat a good team. This (postseason) race is crazy; Murray (State) and Belmont have established they’re going to be fighting it out for one and two, but there are a lot of teams—us, Tennessee Tech, Jacksonville State, Tennessee State—who can all muck it up here at the end.”
Next Up for APSU Men’s Basketball
Austin Peay wraps up the road schedule by paying a visit to SIU Edwardsville for a 7:00pm, Thursday, February 22nd tilt at the Vadalabene Center.