There have not been many certainties throughout the 2020-2021 basketball season, but two things that have remained consistent under head coach Matt Figger: a Terry Taylor offensive explosion and a Governors’ victory against the Redhawks of Southeast Missouri State.
Following the Feb. 13 victory over SEMO, the Governors are on an eight-game winning streak over the Redhawks, dating back to 2017.
Prior to tip-off against Southeast Missouri, Terry Taylor was recognized as APSU’s all-time leading scorer. The senior from Bowling Green, Ky. received a standing ovation from all in attendance, along with a picture frame and trophy presented by Director of Athletics Gerald Harrison.
After the teams took the court for tipoff a few minutes later, APSU’s newly minted all-time leading scorer did what he does best: score in bunches and control the glass.
Taylor was on a mission right out of the gate. He scored the game’s first points on a deep three off a Mike Peake assist and went on to outscore the Redhawks by himself for the majority of the first half.
With under four minutes to play in the game’s opening half, Taylor had 19 while SEMO had 18 as team. He finished the first half with 23 on an efficient 10-12 shooting to go along with six rebounds.
In addition to Taylor’s impressive night that saw him finish with 32, two other Govs – Tai’Reon Joseph and Carlos Paez — posted double digits in scoring in the 78-63 win. Mike Peake finished one point short with nine.
Scoring distribution has been a growing theme for Figger’s group throughout the season. Six of the team’s last eight games have featured four players scoring in double figures, with the last 11 games having three.
“Early on, especially when Jordyn [Adams] was out, everyone was trying to key on Terry and stop Terry,” Figger said. “We stubbed our toe early in some early losses where guys weren’t stepping up and feeling comfortable with their role yet. Now, they’re all getting more comfortable with one another. I have never been a one-man band. I don’t like being a one-man band. I like spreading it around, because it just makes you so hard to defend.
“In some of our wins, Terry has been the third guy as far as points and stuff like that. He is comfortable with whichever. If he has got to try and carry us, he is going to do it, but he is very unselfish. When you got multiple guys scoring points, you are in a good place.”
Last week, the Governors dropped two games by a combined two points after an overtime loss in Morehead, Ky and a buzzer-beater falling the wrong way against the Skyhawks of UT Martin. Now on a two-game winning streak with an 18-point average margin of victory, APSU looks to have turned a corner heading into their final five games of the regular season.
While the team’s scoring is led by Taylor’s 21.7 points a night, Figger says has seen a steady improvement from numerous players on the team, most notably Paez, Peake and Joseph who are collectively averaging 25.2 points a game.
“They are growing and maturing,” Figger said. “Mike has taken on a significant role for us over time. [Paez] has been the heart and soul of our team. When he scores in double figures, we usually don’t lose. He is just a gritty, gritty and tough kid. He gives us everything he’s got day in and day out.
“Right now, we have four guards that are playing through injuries and we are trying to piece it together where those guys can combine and give us some good minutes. I am very proud in how Tai’Reon Joseph has played in the three starts he has got.”
Currently sitting at fourth in the OVC standings with a 9-6 conference record, the Governors look to finish the regular season strong with the potential of finishing as high as the second seed when the postseason begins on March 3.
APSU will face off against SEMO again on Tuesday, Feb. 16, for a makeup game after the Jan. 16 contest in Cape Girardeau, Mo. was postponed.