CHARLESTON, Ill. - Austin Peay hopes to keep alive its hopes of gaining an Ohio Valley Conference tournament berth when it travels to Charleston, Ill., 7 p.m., Thursday to play Eastern Illinois.
But for the Governors to achieve that goal, they have some ground to make up and teams to climb over, with not much time to do so. The Govs are going to need at least three wins over the final three OVC weeks to gain a spot, with Eastern Illinois (7-18 overall/4-8 OVC) being one of the teams ahead of the 1-10 Govs in the standings.
After an extremely slow start, EIU has captured four wins in its last six OVC contests to move into tourney contention. The Panthers now have four straight OVC home contests to wrap up the season.
This is Dave Loos' 23rd season as Austin Peay head coach and he is 368-330 at APSU-the winningest basketball coach in Ohio Valley Conference history-while 450-383 all-time in his 27th season as a college head coach
Austin Peay was picked to finish third behind Murray State and Southeast Missouri in the newly-formed OVC West Division in the preseason poll.
This is the first of a four-game road trek that also will take the Govs to SIU Edwardsville, Eastern Kentucky and Liberty.
The Govs enter the game having lost eight straight and 16 out of their last 17.
Junior guard Travis Betran was named OVC Newcomer of the Week for a sixth time after averaging 25 points per game while shooting better than 57 percent from the floor last weekend.
After losing 12 straight earlier this season, Eastern Illinois has now won four of its last six contests and owns a 4-8 OVC mark.
Junior forward Sherman Blanford leads the team with a 10.7 ppg scoring average with sophomore forward Josh Piper the Panthers only other double-figure scorer at 10.2 ppg. However, in OVC play it is Blanford and junior guard Morris Woods who lead the way at 11.8 ppg.
The Panthers are coached by Jay Spoonhour, who is in his first season as Eastern Illinois' coach. He is the son of the late Charlie Spoonhour, who was the head coach at Missouri State, St. Louis and UNLV during an illustrious career.
Freshman guard Austin Akers is the reigning OVC Freshman of the Week-his fourth such award this season- after scoring 16 points in each of the Panthers contests last week. In two games he was 13 of 18 from the floor.