Plenty of Parity in OVC as Panthers stay undefeated

Jehad Abbed, Assistant Sports Editor

Only three men’s basketball teams remain undefeated in the early stages of Ohio Valley Conference play.

Eastern leads the conference in its 4-0 OVC record this year after defeating Belmont University on Saturday 84-73.

Junior forward Chris Olivier leads Eastern in scoring and is tied for second in the OVC with 18 points per game.

Along with the Panthers, Eastern Kentucky and Murray State have yet to lose an OVC match-up.  Both teams are 2-0 against conference teams.

Murray State has the best overall record amongst OVC teams at 12-4.

The Racers are led by sophomore guard Cameron Payne who is averaging 18.2 points per game. Payne has managed to rack up 36 steals over 16 games.

Eastern Kentucky boasts the lowest average number of points allowed in the conference.  The Colonels are holding OVC teams to under 57 points per game.

Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour said even with a strong undefeated start in the first four games, the Panthers still have a realistic goal of ending the season with a record above .500.

“Its important that our team keeps grounded on what it is that we need to do,” Spoonhour said. “There’s nobody going to Morehead or Eastern Kentucky and coming home with easy wins.”

Morehead State has a 1-2 OVC record with losses to Murray State and Tennessee-Martin.

Morehead leads the OVC in steals with just under 10 per game.

Southern Illinois-Edwardsville has earned a place in a list of teams-to-beat among OVC opponents with an early 3-1 conference record.

The Cougars are lead by senior forward Rozell Nunn who averages 14.8 points per game against conference teams.

The top scoring offense in Belmont is sitting at 2-1 in the OVC with its first loss coming by way of Eastern on Saturday.  The Bruins made just 7-of-43 3-point attempts against the Panthers.

Eastern is the best team in the OVC when it comes to defending the 3-point shot. They are holding conference opponents to just above 21 percent from beyond the arc.

Senior forward Jarekious Bradley leads Southeast Missouri with 15.8 points per game. The Redhawks are 1-3 in the OVC and 7-10 overall.

Tennessee-Martin , Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State have all won just won game in their early OVC match-ups.  Austin Peay and Tennessee State are the only teams in the conference that have yet to beat another OVC team this season.

Eastern will travel to Richmond, Ky. on Thursday to face Eastern Kentucky at 6:30 pm.

Jehad Abbed can be reached at 217-581-2812 or [email protected].