About Austin Peay
I love these schools that no one knows about. I also love the schools with the weird mascots for some reason. (Skyhawks, Thundering Herd, Demon Deacons...kinda makes me jealous.)
Anyway, Austin Peay (Read: Austin Pee) is a state school located in Clarksville, Tennessee. The school is home to just under 10,000 students and was named for Tennessee governor Austin Peay. Just for consistency, they named their sports teams the “Governors.” The men’s basketball team competes in the Ohio Valley Conference, the same conference as EIU and Tennessee-Martin.
What They’ve Done In Recent Years
The Governors last made the NCAA tournament in 2016. They did so by winning the Ohio Valley conference tournament. Although, they suffered an opening-round loss to Kansas, (a 105-79 drubbing) you already know they’ve made the tournament more than Illinois has in recent years. (Fun fact: Austin Peay and Illinois met in the NCAA tournament in 1987. The Governors won 68-67.)
Last year, Austin Peay actually wasn’t very good. They finished with an 11-19 record (7-9 in conference play) and did not have any relevant wins. They faced zero teams ranked in the AP Top 25, but they did suffer losses to some teams Illinois is familiar with: Tom Crean and the Hoosiers defeated the Governors on Dec. 22 by a final score of 97-62. They also lost to Dayton (96-68 on Nov. 11) and Arkansas (99-62 on Dec. 3). Every other game was against opponents in their conference or irrelevant teams.
The Governors lost three seniors last year to graduation: John Murry, Kenny Jones and Assane Diop. Diop didn’t make a huge impact, but both Murray and Jones registered double-digit points each game. Murry, a guard, led the team with 17 points, and the 6-foot-6 Jones added just over 14 himself, along with 7.7 boards. First-year coach Matt Figger will be searching for scoring threats as the season goes on.
So far this year, Taylor Terry may be the most outstanding player for Austin Peay. Most notably, he has helped solve part of Figger’s issue of finding scoring threats (at least for the time being) by adding 12.6 points per game, along with fellow freshman Dayton Gumm (13.6 points per game). Terry, who stands at 6-foot-5, is listed as both a guard and a forward and leads the team in rebounding, as well. It should be noted that his 8.3 rebounds per game is better than anyone currently listed on the Illini roster.
Terry’s athleticism on the boards and scoring ability might be a matchup issue for Illinois. Brad Underwood will likely want to put Da’Monte Williams on either Terry or Gumm to limit their scoring. Mark Alstork also had a good game against Maryland and limited Anthony Cowan in the second half — aside from that last play, of course — and might be called on to shut down the other leading scorer for the Governors.
After dropping very winnable games to Wake Forest (I’m still losing sleep over that one) Northwestern and Maryland, the Illini will gladly welcome the Governors to Champaign so they can take out a little aggression. It shouldn’t be too big of a problem to take care of business, as long as Illinois doesn’t forget how to score like they did in the opening minutes of the Maryland game.
Illinois 91, Austin Peay 62.