Three teams remain in race for top of OVC men’s basketball standings


Rob Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern guard Kejuan Clements gets trapped by Belmont’s defense in the Panthers’ game against the Bruins on Jan. 17 in Lantz Arena. Clements had a total of 5 assists. The Panthers lost 90-56 to the Bruins.

Ryan Meyer, Men's Basketball Reporter

The fight for the top of the standings in the OVC remains a three-team battle amongst Murray State, Morehead State and Belmont.

Murray State and Morehead State are both undefeated in conference play, and the two teams are set to square off in Murray on Saturday. One team will walk away having lost their winning streak of either nine or 10, respectively. Murray State has also received 10 votes towards the AP Top 25.

The Racers’ success can be traced back to their offense, which is the highest-scoring in the OVC and features three of the top ten scorers in the conference in Tevin Brown, KJ Williams and Justice Hill. They also have the best scoring defense in the OVC, holding opponents to 63.4 points per game.

Morehead State’s Johni Broome is fourth in the conference in scoring and leads the OVC in rebounds with 10.5 per game and is the only player in the OVC averaging a double-double. Broome is also active around the rim on the defensive end, averaging 3.6 blocks per game.

Both Murray State and Morehead State barely squeaked out wins on the road Thursday, with the Racers winning 80-75 at Tennessee Tech and the Eagles 74-73 at SEMO. All the road teams won their games Thursday, including Belmont and Tennessee State, meaning the top four OVC teams picked up wins.

Eastern picked up their first road win, their first OVC win and their first win against a Division I opponent all in the same game Thursday night at Tennessee-Martin, snapping their 10-game losing streak while shooting 53.8 percent from the field as a team with only seven players available.

Tennessee-Martin made the game close towards the end, but Kejuan Clements put it away with a handful of tough finishes and trips to the free throw line. Clements runs the Panther offense and is averaging 4.2 assists per game, good enough to make him fourth in the conference.

The longest losing streak in the OVC now belongs to SIUE, who have lost five in a row to drop their conference record to 1-6. Given that eight teams make the conference tournament and the eighth, ninth and tenth teams, Austin Peay, SIUE and Eastern, are all within a game of each other, there’s likely to be some contention for the eighth seed going into February. Eastern plays SIUE in Edwardsville on Thursday.

Eastern hosts Tennessee State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.


Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]