The Austin Peay Governors were one of the first teams to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament this season, completing an improbable run through the Ohio Valley Conference tournament en route to the Big Dance.
As the 8-seed, the Governors were the first team to win the conference tournament as an 8-seed. If they keep playing the way that they did over the past four days, they could be a trendy upset pick in the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
A big reason for their strong play over the last week has been the play of their big man inside.
Senior forward Chris Horton put together an impressive week that could have been even more impressive if it wasn’t for a minor ankle injury that he sustained in the tournament finale.
The 6’8” forward has enjoyed a strong career with Austin Peay, and it all culminates with an NCAA Tournament berth this coming March.
After putting together an impressive four-game stretch, Chris Horton is the CCR Mid-Major Player of the Week for February 29th – March 6th!
Horton is a 6’8”, 195-pound forward from Decatur, GA. The senior big man has had a strong career with the Governors, and is finally rewarded with a trip to the NCAA Tournament to cap it all off in style.
For the year, Horton is averaging 18.9 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per contest. Over the past four days, he was a man on a mission as the Governors pulled upset after upset in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.
Austin Peay came into the week as the 8-seed in the conference tournament, and no 8-seed had ever won the OVC Tournament. The Governors set out to prove everyone wrong, and they played some of their best basketball over the four days.
Here are the four games that the Governors played, and Horton’s stat line for each of them.
Round 1: Win v. Tennessee Tech, 92-72
Horton: 37 points, 21 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 13-of-16 (81.6%) FG
Quarter-Finals: Win v. Tennessee State, 74-72
Horton: 15 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, 5-of-9 (55.6%) FG
Semi-Finals: Win v. Belmont, 97-96 (OT)
Horton: 30 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 8-of-11 (72.7%) FG
Finals: Win v. UT-Martin, 83-73
Horton: 8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4-of-9 (44.4%) FG
In the finals against the Skyhawks, Horton suffered a minor injury in the first half, and was a non-factor in terms of statistics down the stretch.
For the week, Horton averaged 22.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 0.75 blocks per contest across the Governors’ four wins. If he remained healthy in the championship game, his statistical averages would be slightly higher.
Regardless, what he managed to do over a four day stretch was incredible. When he did go down to injury, the Governors turned to others to step up, which makes this team dangerous in the NCAA Tournament.
Over his career, Horton’s name isn’t one that people have focused on across the college basketball landscape. He’s been an under-the-radar talent for the better part of his four years at Austin Peay.
That’s all about to change.
The Governors will be a trendy upset pick come NCAA Tournament time. While they will likely be in Dayton for the First Four, they could put a serious scare into a number 1 seed if they advance into the 2nd Round.
While he isn’t the biggest center in the NCAA, Horton is a big body to move in the paint. He is a force on both ends of the floor in terms of rebounds, and can finish around the basket for easy points on second-chance opportunities. His presence inside opens things up for the guards on the outside, creating a ‘pick your poison’ type scenario for their opponents on a nightly basis.
Big time players bring their best when it matters most, and the Governors got that from their senior big man in the conference tournament.
After leading his team to an NCAA Tournament appearance, Austin Peay’s Chris Horton is this week’s winner of the CCR Mid-Major Player of the Week award!
Feb. 22 – 28: QJ Peterson – VMI Keydets
Feb. 15 – 21: Stefan Jankovic – Hawaii Warriors
Feb. 8 – 14: Rokas Gustys – Hofstra Pride
Feb. 1 – 7: Alec Wintering – Portland Pilots
Jan. 25 – 31: Brett Bisping – Siena Saints
Jan. 18 – 24: Quinton Chievous – Hampton Pirates
Jan. 11 – 17: Shawn Long – UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
Jan. 4 – 10: Tyrell Nelson – Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs
Dec. 28 – Jan. 3: Tanner Plomb – Army West Point Black Knights