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Govs roll in second half to take down Southeast Missouri

APSU Sports Information

APSU Men's BasketballClarksville, TN – One goal in the books. Hopefully, the first of many to be achieved in 2019. Austin Peay State University (APSU) men’s basketball team picked up win No. 20 in an 83-70 dispatching of Southeast Missouri in their penultimate home contest to the 2018-19 season thanks to stifling second-half defense and four Govs in double figures.

Austin Peay Men's Basketball rolls past Southeast Missouri 83-70 Thursday night at the Dunn Center. (APSU Sports Information) [1]

Austin Peay Men’s Basketball rolls past Southeast Missouri 83-70 Thursday night at the Dunn Center. (APSU Sports Information)

It wasn’t the fastest start the Govs have ever enjoyed.

Call it an emotional hangover after Terry Taylor’s [2] career day at Morehead State or the effort expended in holding off the Eagles on Saturday; whatever the case, the Govs weren’t as sharp as the faithful would’ve liked them to be in the early going.

Compounding that trouble was a Southeast Missouri (9-19, 4-11 OVC) squad that came out on fire in the first half. The Redhawks hit 10 of their first 13 shots, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc and established tenuous control in the early going.

Against this onslaught, the Govs were helped by forcing nine turnovers over the first 12 minutes of play; despite the decided disadvantage in shooting efficiency, Austin Peay (20-8, 12-3) was able to stay close thanks to volume—the Govs took 10 more shots than the Redhawks over that opening 12 minutes.

Austin Peay tied the game up by doing what it does as good as anyone in the league—getting into the paint and letting its playmakers work. Steve Harris [3] sliced the lane with 8:35 to go to cut it to two, then Taylor passed out of a double-team to a wide-open McGhee, who converted the dunk to tie it up. Not to be left out, Taylor nailed one of his patent-pending rainbow threes to give Austin Peay its first lead in over seven minutes with 6:12 remaining in the half.

The teams spent a few minutes trading buckets and stops until a Zach Glotta [4] three with 2:48 to play kick-started a half-ending 11-3 run for the Govs, punctuated by Antwuan Butler’s [5] scooping lay-up with two seconds to play in the half to send Austin Peay into the locker room with a 41-36 lead.  

There were 12 combined fouls assessed the entire first half; there were half that many by the first media timeout of the second half as the referees got the game back under control after a chippy end to the opening period. The result was a disjointed opening few minutes to the second half that saw Austin Peay hit just two of its first 13 shots in the half but Southeast Missouri unable to capitalize on the Governors lack of success.

As has so often been the case, it was McGhee—the gregarious enigma who has provided life off the bench—who provided the spark that helped the Govs begin pulling away. With just over 10 minutes remaining, McGhee hauled in a missed Chris Porter-Bunton [6] free-throw and muscled it up and in while drawing the foul.

The and-one was good to give the Govs a 59-51 lead; McGhee would eventually finish with 18 points and 19 rebounds, his fourth career double-double and the most rebounds by a Gov in a single game since 2016.

McGhee’s three-point play was the pinnacle of a 12-2 Austin Peay run that ended with the Governors leading by double-digits. After the struggle to get back on top in the first half and the struggle to pull away in the second, the final five minutes or so were pretty formulaic—the Govs would score, and then they’d stop Southeast Missouri from scoring.

Some late Redhawk free-throws brought the visitors’ deficit below 20 but by then it was too late to throw a scare into the Govs.

The Difference

A plus-12 advantage on the boards was nice enough—it was Austin Peay’s largest in conference play this season—but it only tells one half of the story. The Govs pulled down 20 offensive rebounds—second-highest total of the 2018-19 season—and had more offensive rebounds (20) than defensive rebounds (19) for the first time since January 18th, 2018 against Tennessee State (19 offensive, 18 defensive), which led to 20 second chance points (equaling the Governors high against an OVC foe, set at Eastern Illinois, January 19th).

A major part of all of this was McGhee—the graduate transfer had 19 of the Governors 39 boards himself, while Southeast Missouri had just 27 as a team.

APSU Notably

Some notes on win No. 20: It’s Austin Peay’s first 20-win season since 2010-11, coming in the 28th game (fastest since 2003-04) on February 21st (earliest since 1977).

With 13 points, Taylor passed Wesley Channels (2008-09), Tom Morgan (1956-57) and Andrew Burton (1980-81) to move into 22nd all-time in single-season scoring with 554 points.

Up next: Bubba Wells’ 560-point 1994-95 season. He’s reached double figures in 25 of Austin Peay’s 28 contests this season. Despite a slight drop in scoring average, he’s still shooting 53.7 percent (73-of-136) from the field 80.9 percent (34-of-42) at the line over the last eight games.

The win is Austin Peay’s fifth straight against the Redhawks, the longest streak since 2008-11 (seven games).

Senior Steve Harris [3] tied his career high with six assists.

By percentage, the Govs have been outshot in four straight games, with opponents hitting 49.3 percent (112-of-227) from the floor and the Govs at 43.5 percent (111-of-255). Austin Peay is 3-1 in those contests.

One game after a season-low one point from the reserves, the Govs got 33 from the second unit Thursday night, most since Jan. 5 (Morehead State).

The Govs are now 5-1 to start February for the first time since 2007-08.

Junior Isaiah Hart [9] scored a career-high 13 points, his second double-digit effort off the bench for the Govs this season.

Austin Peay has committed fewer than 10 turnovers in five straight games. Forget about the last time that happened since electronic record-keeping began in 1999-00 (spoiler: it has not happened during that stretch), in 13 of 19 seasons from 1999-00 forward, there were not five such games in the entire season. From Feb. 4, 2010-Dec. 30, 2013 there were five total games with fewer than 10 turnovers for the Govs, across four seasons.

Austin Peay has won the turnover battle each of the last five games, owning a plus-28 margin over that span.

Porter-Bunton scored 19 points to lead the Govs; he’s now at 949 points for his career and needs 17.0 per game over the final three games to reach 1,000 ahead of the OVC Tournament.

Since the turn of the century, the Govs are 31-10 against Southeast Missouri. They’ve now swept the season series in back-to-back seasons and for the 12th time during that span.

With the win, the Govs are:

 


Coaching Quotables with APSU Head Coach Matt Figger [11]

On the milestone win
“I don’t think people understand how hard it is to win a college game, never mind 20 college games. To win 11 of the 20 outside your building talks about the character of the team we have here. To win 20 of 28 is a credit to our players.”

On Southeast Missouri’s scheme
“They did a great job trying to make other guys (aside from Taylor) beat them. In the second half Jabari, Chris and Isaiah gave us a huge lift. I’ve been waiting for that Isaiah that I’ve seen in practice with some ice in his veins and he stepped up big in the second half.”

Up Next for APSU Govs

Saturday, February 23rd is Senior Day. The final regular season home contest. UT Martin will be in the building. Plan to be in attendance, wear red and scream really loudly. Tip-off follows the conclusion of the women’s game, which will tip at 1:30 p.m.