Governors fall to Illinois
For Austin Peay men’s basketball fans, two games were played at the State Farm Center, in Champaign, Illinois. Ultimately Illinois defeated the visiting Governors, 107-66.
For the first 8:30, the Govs game plan hit on all cylinders against the Illinois. The defense on Illinois’ center Nnanna Egwu by Chris Freeman denied Egwu preferable placement in the paint. Egwu was unable to postup and deliver inside.
As a result, the Illini chose to pass to the perimeter where they combined 3-8 from three point territory and 3-7 in the mid range. The Govs were able to find ways around the Illinois defense to even the score early.
Chris Horton and Chris Freeman were clearly the focal point of Illinois’ defense. Because the pair combined for 38 points, 16 rebounds against Samford, Illinois Head Coach John Groce aimed to stifle their production.
“We need to get him (Freeman) and Horton the ball against anybody, not just a game like tonight” said Austin Peay Head Coach Dave Loos. “I do think that our big guys have played pretty well for us, but they just never got it going inside tonight.”
In practiced precision, Freeman was able to pass out to junior guard Ed Dyson for an easy layup. The frequent double teams enabled Peay guards Zavion Williams and Khalil Davis to shoulder the scoring load.
Passing out of the post was crisp and efficient. Passing in to the post was not.
“To be honest our guards got a little lackadaisical with the ball, some lazy passes, some bounce passes up front that were slower,” said Coach Loos. “I was not pleased with our guards. They just turned it over out front and it turned into two points.”
For the rest of the game, the Govs were unable to match the Fighting Illini. As the game progressed the Governors slowed in transition defense. Feeding off the home crowd Illinois was able to punch home a few breaks. ASPU allowed for 22 points off of turnovers, while racking up only 8 in their favor.
“I think that they got after us a little bit,” said Coach Loos. “We put it on the floor and got in a little bit of a hurry. Early that was okay, we made a few shots, (a few) plays off the dribble.”
Freshman Josh Robinson finished with 11 points. Davis netter 12 on 5-7 from the floor.
On the defensive end, APSU could not counter the perimeter shooting of the Illini. Whether they were able to close in on the shooter or gave him room, the Illini downed their baskets with consistency.
“Illinois had good spacing, for one thing,” said Coach Loos. “They are hard to guard because of their spacing. They can be in a couple of spaces at the same time. It is hard to remember a team shooting this good (against us.)”
Though the game didn’t fall in favor of the Govs, a few bright spots can provide fans hope for the rest of the season. Overall the team went 13-15 from the free throw line and ended the night with a quiet six blocks.
Off the bench, freshman Robinson contributed 11 points (10 in the second half,) in 17 minutes of play. Junior college transfer Davis finished the night with 12 points, three turnovers, and 5 rebounds (4 defensive.) Freeman shone through for Austin Peay with 13 points, three rebounds, two blocks, and a team leading five assists in 32 minutes of play.
The Govs next play at Indiana State on Monday, November 24th, for the next preliminary round of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. ASPU head coach Dave Loos has a 2-1 advantage against the Sycamores during his 25 year tenure in Clarksville.