Sorry for the delay, we tried to get to this recap of the Eastern Illinois and Tennessee Tech game on Friday but the day just slipped away from us. We did get to sneak in and watch the Panther swimming teams take the men's and women's meet victory over IUPUI on Friday afternoon. They are hosting Missouri State on Saturday morning.
Now to the recap of the basketball games... Both came down to the wire and were just about as exciting as the Air Elite Dunkers show put on at halftime of both games. If you have not seen these fellas perform in person then you are missing out on some top notch aerobatics with a basketball.
WOMEN'S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sydney Mitchell gets our nod in this game. Ta'Kenya Nixon did lead the Panthers with 15 points but Mitchell was aggressive on the glass pulling down 11 rebounds. Head coach Brady Sallee mentioned that EIU needs to make sure it wins the battle on the boards and Mitchell helped EIU do that. She also had 8 points.
WHAT WE LEARNED
* Despite the loss EIU didn't loss any ground in the OVC standings. EIU remains in fifth place just behind Austin Peay who also lost on Thursday at EKU. The Lady Govs play at Morehead State on Saturday and with a loss there, either EIU or Jacksonville State could move into a tie for fourth. Both EIU and JSU are 5-5.
* Free throws plagued the Panthers for the third time this season in a close game. It was the third time this year that EIU had shot below 60 percent from the stripe and it hurt in a 60-56 loss to TTU. Other sub-60 percent games this year have been close losses to Western Michigan in the season opener and versus UNC Greensboro at the Miami Thanksgiving Tournament.
* EIU can play with anyone in the OVC and the league tournament will be wide open as I think on neutral court any of the teams can beat any of the other ones on a given day. EIU does need to secure a top four seed to probably earn that OVC Tournament Championship as the limited bench the Panthers are playing with right now probably does not bode well for a four games in four days run in Nashville.
MEN'S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jeremy Granger was a no-brainer on this selection. He just missed becoming the first EIU player since Jake Byrne on Feb. 28, 2008 to score 30 or more points in a game as he finished with 29 in the 77-74 loss to TTU. Granger did get his first career double-double with 10 rebounds.
WHAT WE LEARNED MEN'S GAME
* EIU has played more close OVC games already this season (7) than in any other OVC season since joining the league in 1996-97. The previous high was six in five different years. We define close games by four points or less.
* You can probably book it that Granger has taken more last second potential game winning or tying shots than anyone else in an EIU season. By my count he has had at least six but I may have missed one or two in my quick math.
* Freshman Alfonzo McKinnie should be poised to get some good minutes on Saturday against Jacksonville State. In fact based on his performance against Tennessee Tech on Thursday and head coach Mike Miller's knack for shifting starting line-ups this season, McKinnie may even be in the mix for a start.
COACHES VS. CANCER
Tonight is the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Awareness Game. Coaches around the nation will wear sneakers with their suits. Look for it on a game near you.