Three teams tied at top of OVC standings

Cam+Burrell+attempts+a+reverse+layup+as+an+Eastern+Kentucky+defender+misses+his+block+attempt+during+Eastern%E2%80%99s+67-66+victory+in+Lantz+Arena+Jan.+31.
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Three teams tied at top of OVC standings

Cam Burrell attempts a reverse layup as an Eastern Kentucky defender misses his block attempt during Eastern’s 67-66 victory in Lantz Arena Jan. 31.

Cam Burrell attempts a reverse layup as an Eastern Kentucky defender misses his block attempt during Eastern’s 67-66 victory in Lantz Arena Jan. 31.

Jordan Boyer

Cam Burrell attempts a reverse layup as an Eastern Kentucky defender misses his block attempt during Eastern’s 67-66 victory in Lantz Arena Jan. 31.

Jordan Boyer

Jordan Boyer

Cam Burrell attempts a reverse layup as an Eastern Kentucky defender misses his block attempt during Eastern’s 67-66 victory in Lantz Arena Jan. 31.

Oscar Rzodkiewicz, Basketball Reporter

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The tie atop the Ohio Valley Conference narrows to just three teams as Eastern fades toward the middle of the pack after two losses in a week of conference action.

Eastern (13-12, 6-6 OVC) had a chance to even the score with Murray State on Thursday after dropping a contest to the Racers just weeks ago, but big runs by Murray State secured the 86-75 win.

The Panthers got a chance to rebound against another top OVC squad in Austin Peay, but again fell late and lost 94-86.

The two losses leave Eastern in the fifth seed, just a game ahead of both Morehead State and Tennessee State.

The Panthers get an easier slate this week, taking on Southern Illinois Edwardsville on Thursday before the weekend turnaround with Southeast Missouri on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Murray State (19-4, 10-2 OVC) built on the win over Eastern with an 86-55 rout of Southern Illinois Edwardsville on Saturday.

The Racers managed to get five different players into double-figures against Southern Illnois Edwardsville, including sophomore Ja Morant, who poured in a game-high 20 points of his own.

Morant stills leads the conference in scoring and assist averages, posting 23.9 points and 10.4 assists per game.

Murray State gets a crack to dethrone another top team in Austin Peay on Thursday before facing Eastern Kentucky on Saturday.

Austin Peay (18-7, 10-2 OVC) has not stopped making noise, though, as the Governors preceded their win over Eastern with an 80-45 victory over Southern Illinois Edwardsville on Thursday.

Sophomore Terry Taylor recorded his 1,000th career point against the Panthers, pouring in 25 points in the win.

The Governors travel to Morehead State on Saturday after their home matchup with Murray State on Thursday.

The biggest breakout of the weekend kept Belmont on top of the conference, as senior Dylan Windler’s 41 points on just 20 shots, including eight three-pointers, pushed the Bruins past Morehead State.

Belmont rode into the game on a high horse after trouncing Eastern Kentucky 83-65 just days prior.

Windler’s 30.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game averages over the two contests gave him the nod as the OVC Player of the Week.

Windler and Belmont go toe-to-toe with Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech this week.

The unhappiest team of last week was Jacksonville State (17-8, 9-3 OVC) after the Gamecocks dropped a game on Thursday to Tennessee-Martin, moving them to fourth in the conference.

Jacksonville State responded with an 81-64 win over Southeast Missouri on Saturday.

The Gamecocks get a similar slate to Belmont this week to try and get back in the one-seed conversation, facing Tennessee Tech on Thursday before a Saturday game with Tennessee State.

Oscar Rzodkiewicz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]