Ohio Valley Conference Preview: Belmont reigns supreme

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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Ohio Valley Conference.

The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship game didn’t lack any drama. Taylor Barnette drilled a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left to send the Belmont to the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five years. It handed Murray State, which was undefeated in conference play, an invitation to the NIT.

The Bruins and Racers are expected to top their respective divisions again this season despite going through two very different offseasons.

Belmont head coach Rick Byrd, entering his 30th season, brings back four starters. Barnette, the OVC Tournament MVP and Craig Bradshaw, the Ohio Valley Preseason Player of the Year, make up the conference’s top back court, while Evan Bradds mans the frontline after a breakout sophomore season. Belmont is one of the nation’s best mid-major programs year-after-year, and that shouldn’t change this season.

Murray State, however, experienced an offseason of change. In April, Cameron Payne left for the NBA, becoming a lottery pick that will continue his career alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Then in June, head coach Steve Prohm left to take over the Iowa State program. Despite the coaching change and the loss of three of its top four scorers, Murray State remains a contender in the OVC. First-year head coach Matt McMahon has an all-OVC caliber guard in Jeffery Moss, the lone returning starter. Justin Seymour also returns, but the perimeter will be enhanced by the additions of Texas transfer Damarcus Croaker, Chattanooga transfer Gee McGhee and JuCo transfer Bryce Jones. 

In total, there are four new head coaches in the league: McMahon, Dan McHale (Eastern Kentucky), Rick Ray (Southeast Missouri State) and Jon Harris (SIU-Edwardsville). 

Even after graduating two all-OVC players, McHale and the Colonels could still be Belmont’s toughest challenge in the East Division, relying on the returning back court of Ja’Mill Powell and Isaac McGlone. Morehead State won five of its last six games, narrowly losing to Murray State in the OVC Tournament semifinals, to close out 2014-15. The Eagles could build of last season’s strong push with Brent Arrington returning to lead the team’s hard-nose defense. But Jacksonville State poses as a deep sleeper, a cast of newcomers headlined by well-traveled forward Cameron Biedscheid.

UT Martin, coming off one of the better turnarounds in the nation a season ago, will likely be Murray State’s toughest competition in the West Division. Twymond Howard and Alex Anderson make up a solid 1-2 punch, while Myles Taylor, another double-digit scorer, returns from a shortened 2014-15 season. Chris Olivier transferring hurts Eastern Illinois up front, but Trae Anderson and Cornell Johnston should be enough to keep the Panthers in play this year.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule


  • Favorite: “I think Belmont is the best team. They won the conference tournament last year. They have bulk of the guys coming back and they definitely have the best coach coming back.”
  • Sleeper: “I would say Morehead State. I think they’re going to have a really good team. They play hard, they play physical, they guard you. You really have to prepare for them. Heck, they were close to making the conference championship game last year.”
  • Star to watch: “I think Craig Bradshaw from Belmont. He can score from anywhere on the floor. He plays with a great motor and within the team concept. He can put points on the board, really quickly too.”


One of the best mid-major players in the nation, Bradshaw is coming off a junior campaign of 18.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, shooting 42 percent from behind the 3-point line. An intense competitor, the 6-foot-3 senior had arguably his best game against one of the nation’s premier defenses, scoring 25 points (10-of-19 shooting) and nine rebounds against Virginia in the NCAA tournament.


  • Evan Bradds, Belmont: The anchor in the middle for the Bruins, the 6-foot-7 junior averaged 14.2 points and 7.2 boards per game, shooting 69 percent from the field, second in the nation in that category.
  • Chris Horton, Austin Peay: One of the bright lights for the Governors in 2014-15, Horton averaged a double-double: 13.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. Tops in the conference with 2.3 blocks per game.
  • Twymond Howard, UT Martin: One of the top newcomers in the league from a season ago, the 6-foot-6 forward recorded five of his six double-doubles during conference play.
  • Jeffery Moss, Murray State: A long, athletic guard who can connect from three should see a bump in his offensive numbers with Cameron Payne in the NBA and two of the Racers’ other double-digit scorers gone from a season ago.



East Division

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

West Division

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

Well-traveled former Ole Miss guard transfers to a new school

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Well-traveled junior guard Derrick Millinghaus has found a new school. The former Ole Miss guard transferred to Southeastern Louisiana before the 2014-15 season but found himself on the move once again this winter. The 5-foot-10 native of New York will transfer to Tennessee Tech.

Millinghaus announced his decision on Twitter:

Millinghaus was already sitting out the 2014-2015 season per NCAA transfer rules. In his sophomore season with the Rebels, Millinghaus averaged 6.6 points, 2.3 assists and 1.7 rebounds per game while starting nine games.

While he struggled shooting from the field, only hitting 34 percent of his shots, the OVC should be a better level of play for Millinghaus.

North Florida loses by two after pregame dunk technical gives Tennessee Tech two made free throws

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source: AP

North Florida was hosting Tennessee Tech on Monday night and the Ospreys probably wanted to throw down some dunks in pregame warm-ups to get fired up and pump up the home crowd.

Turns out dunking before the game was a game-changing decision:

Most of the time these administrative technical fouls don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. Except Tennessee Tech ended up winning the game 82-80 over the Ospreys on Monday night. Turns out those two points before opening tip actually meant the difference in a game that was tied 80-80 over the course of 40 minutes of play.

If you’re curious about the rule that North Florida broke, it’s Section 4, Class B, Article 1e of the NCAA rule book. A technical foul should be given for the following: “A team member dunking or attempting to dunk a dead ball before or during the game, or during any intermission.”

After a great road win at Purdue, this is an awful way to lose for North Florida. This sounds like a dumb rule, but it’s probably even worse to break it and lose by two points after a pregame technical foul cost was the point differential the game.

And for the record, the pregame technical foul isn’t the main reason North Florida lost. The Ospreys led 41-32 at the half and allowed Tennessee Tech to score 50 points in the second half on 60 percent shooting.

(H/T: ESPN Stats & Info)

Tennessee Tech head coach Steve Payne gets extension

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Tennessee Tech head coach Steve Payne received a contract extension through 2019, according to a release from the school. Women’s basketball head coach Jim Davis received an extension through 2019 as well.

Payne is in his fourth year as head coach of the Golden Eagles after spending nine seasons as an assistant coach.

“I am excited to be able to continue what we’ve started, and excited about the direction our program is headed,” Payne said in the release. “I’m grateful that the leadership of our university and our athletic department feels the same way.

Payne is 48-47 in three seasons and 23-25 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The 45-year-old Payne now gets some backing from the school and it should benefit him in recruiting with additional job security.

“I think we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of what we can do in Athletics at Tennessee Tech, and within our men’s basketball program,” Payne said in the release. “I appreciate the loyalty and the faith that they’ve placed in me.”

Tennessee Tech is projected to finish in the middle of the pack of the East Division of the OVC. They return three starters from a 17-16 effort in 2013-14.

Winthrop hires assistant coach Brian Kloman

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Winthrop made an assistant coaching hire on Monday as the program hired former Tennessee Tech assistant coach Brian Kloman to the same position.

Kloman replaces former assistant coach Brian Thornton, who left for Ball State earlier this spring, and the move was announced in a release from the school.

“Brian is someone that I have known for many years through the coaching profession and have tremendous respect for,” Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey said in the release. “He is a tireless worker and possesses and elite ability to cultivate relationships. He has gained a reputation as one of the best up and coming recruiters in our business. Student-athletes love him. I am excited to have him at Winthrop.”

The newest member of the Winthop staff comes after two seasons at Tennessee Tech and a stint at North Carolina Central. Kloman has also worked at Pikeville College, Daniel Webster and Pfeiffer College and is the son of Craig Ferguson, an assistant coach at Oklahoma State.

POSTERIZED: Tennessee Tech’s Javon McKay crushes a Belmont defender


Why’d you do it Craig Bradshaw? Why did you try to jump with Tennessee Tech junior swingman Javon McKay?

Bradshaw, a sophomore guard from Belmont, found himself on the receiving end of a brutal posterization on Saturday when the 6-foot-5 McKay stole the ball and ran the floor for a thunderous dunk.

The dunk could have sparked something in Tennessee Tech, as they won 81-76 over Ohio Valley Conference-leading Belmont and McKay had a season-high of 13 points in the game.