kerron johnson

Conference Preview: OVC adds Belmont, seeks multiple tournament bids

Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

The 2012-2013 season could be the Ohio Valley Conference’s finest hour. With the mid-major landscape in a state of flux, this could be the season that the OVC legitimizes itself as a basketball conference. The conference features a first team All-American, two 2012 NCAA tournament appearances, a future-Hall of Fame coach, and anywhere from two to six future-NBA players. A lot of things have to go right, but there’s a definite possibility the OVC sends at least two teams to the NCAA Tournament.

With the addition of Belmont, the OVC has split up into and East and West divisions. The Bruins enter the season as the prohibitive favorites to win the East division. Head coach Rick Byrd has compiled a 545-284 record in his 26 years at Belmont, and brings his squad into the OVC for the first time looking to do what they do almost every year, which is make the NCAA tournament. The Bruins joined the OVC because a) it made more geographical sense and b) the competition is better, plus they might actually tout the best back-court in the OVC, made up of Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark. Tennessee State returns four starters from the 2011-2012 that handed Murray State  it’s first and only loss of the regular season and will compete with Belmont for the top spot.  They are led by sharpshooting wing Robert Covington, arguably the conference’s best scorer not named Isaiah Canaan. Tennessee Tech has to replace Kevin Murphy, who was drafted by the Utah Jazz, but second year head coach Steve Payne returns forward Jud Dillard, a first team All-Conference selection last season. The Owls have talent and experience, two items essential in making a late season run.  Morehead State doesn’t have Kenny Faried anymore, but they have first year head coach Sean Woods, who did great things at Mississippi Valley State. The Eagles won’t be a title contender, but they will be a very difficult-out.

Murray State is the conference’s “golden goose”,  and the favorite to come out of the West division, led by first team All-American guard Isaiah Canaan. The senior guard torched the competition en route to the nation’s longest undefeated streak (23-0) and an conference record for wins (31-2). The question is, can he do it again? The Racers graduated three  significant pieces and lost another (Zay Jackson) to a season-ending suspension. If Ed Daniel and Latreze Mushatt can elevate their games, Isaiah Canaan is a special type of player. The west division is Murray State’s for the taking, but Southeast Missouri  has improved tremendously under third year head coach Dickey Nutt, and put up a very tough fight on both occasions against Murray State last season.  The Redhawks return All-OVC players in junior forward Tyler Stone and senior guard Marland Smith.

While Murray State and Belmont are the only two teams with real, legitimate at-large potential, there are at least three teams that have the talent needed to win the OVC Tournament. There’s a real possibility that the OVC has three representatives come March Madness time.

Take the time now to mark down your schedules for March 6-9 in Nashville, because the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament may end up being the most exciting three days of the college hoops season.

Don’t be shocked to see three OVC representatives in the Big dance.

All-Conference Team (* denotes Player of the Year)
G Isaiah Canaan (Murray State)*
F Robert Covington (Tennessee State)
G Jud Dillard (Tennessee Tech)
G Kerron Johnson (Belmont)
F Tyler Stone (Southeast Missouri)

Predicted Standings
1. Belmont
2. Tennessee State
3. Tennessee Tech
4. Morehead State
5. Eastern Kentucky
6. Jacksonville State

1. Murray State
2. Southeast Missouri
3. Austin Peay
4. SIU-Edwardsville
5. Eastern Illinois
6. UT-Martin

VIDEO: UMass Lowell game delayed by shattered backboard

Pat Duquette
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UMass Lowell’s game with Wheelock College was delayed for a little over an hour on Tuesday afternoon after a dunk attempt from Dontavius Smith broke the backboard.

The game resumed and is currently in the second half. Here’s the video of Smith shattering the glass after he took flight.

No. 13 Indiana bounces back with 83-73 win over St. John’s

Troy Williams
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LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Yogi Ferrell had 22 points and seven assists to lead No. 13 Indiana to an 83-73 victory over St. John’s on Tuesday in the consolation round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

Freshman center Thomas Bryant had a career-high 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting for the Hoosiers (4-1), who lost to Wake Forest 82-78 in the closing seconds of their opening-round game.

Indiana will play the winner of the Chaminade-UNLV game for fifth place on Wednesday.

Federico Mussini and Ron Mvouika had 17 points each for the Red Storm (3-2), who played much better than they did in their 92-55 pasting from No. 19 Vanderbilt in the first round.

Ferrell had an answer every time St. John’s tried to close in in the second half. Four times the Red Storm got within seven points and three of those times Ferrell replied. He hit a short jumper, two free throws and a step-back jumper to keep St. John’s at bay.

The Red Storm got as close as 76-70 with 1:53 to play on two free throws by Yankuba Sima. James Blackmon Jr., who finished with 12 points, hit a 3 and after a St. John’s turnover he scored on a drive to put the game away.

Troy Williams had seven points and nine rebounds for Indiana.

The Hoosiers led by as many as 17 points in the first half and took a 42-31 lead at halftime.


St. John’s: This game started a little bit better than the opening round. In that game Vanderbilt opened by scoring the first nine points of the game. Against Indiana St. John’s trailed 9-2 at the start. … St. John’s had eight turnovers against Vanderbilt. The Red Storm had that many at halftime against the Hoosiers, They finished with 11.

Indiana: Bryant had 15 points at halftime, two off his career high for a game. … Ferrell was 9 of 10 from the free throw line. The rest of the Hoosiers were 6 of 14.

TALE OF THE TAPE: St. John’s trainer Ron Linfonte and Tim Garl, his counterpart at Indiana, are both in their 35th season at their respective schools. They are the two longest-tenured trainers in men’s Division I basketball.


St. John’s: plays loser of Chaminade-UNLV for seventh place on Wednesday.

Indiana: plays winner of Chaminade-UNLV for fifth place on Wednesday.