#6 Southeast Missouri 79. #7 Eastern Illinois 61
This was an interesting game, as my first time watching SEMO live told me everything I needed to know about how they earned their regular season record, and the same was true for Eastern Illinois.
The Redhawks love to run, and they took every opportunity to do just that in the first half. The problem became when they got overconfident in that athleticism on the defensive end. Head coach Dickey Nutt said before the game that he wanted his guys on a shot leash defensively and being smart with the chances they took. They took them anyway, and it led to serious issues, like Jarekious Bradley picking up his third foul with five and a half minutes left, or Reggie Smith hitting three wide-open 3-pointers in that span (he hit three all game three times this season).
Chris Olivier, a sophomore forward for the Panthers who missed all but the opener last season, was right behind Smith with eight first half points and then more than doubled that (17) by the first media timeout, thanks in part to Bradley's continued absence. Fortunately for SEMO, Bradley is their second leading scorer (by a hair), and Tyler Stone was all over the place for the Redhawks. Dunks, three point shots, rebounds and blocks; he did it all to the tune of 27 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Bradley only managed to play 14 minutes before fouling out, but the Redhawks got a nice fill-in performance from Antonius Cleveland to the tune of 15 points. The Panthers got strong outings from Olivier (19 points, 7 boards) and Sherman Blanford (22 and 8), but they also got zero points from their bench. All that production was largely in garbage time, as they faded down the stretch against a more athletic and up-tempo team.
The Redhawks will now face Eastern Kentucky tomorrow at 8 p.m., streamed live on the OVC Digital Network.
#5 Tennessee Tech 74, #8 Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 67
Don't let that final score fool you - the game wasn't nearly that close, and the Cougars needed a late run to keep it interesting. The Cougars made a three on their opening possession and then missed 13 of their next 14 shots - by the time they made their third field goal of the game, they were down 21-9. That field goal ignited a 10-2 run, but the Cougars just couldn't get the stops they needed to stay in the game. Their shooting picked up late and they cut the deficit to four at 64-60 with just under two minutes left.
The Golden Eagles promptly called a time out, came out of it to see Jeremiah Samarrippas drill his third three of the game, and that was all she wrote. Samarrippas scored 16 points to lead TTU, and was one of four players as Tech shot 58% from the field while holding the Cougars to a mere 39%.
Tech will now advance to face Morehead State tomorrow at 6 p.m., streamed live on the OVC Digital Network.