Whew. That's called sweating one out.
Keegan Bell didn't sound quite like himself, with just nine points and five assists. But he did play 36 minutes. There should be no complaining from the peanut gallery about this. And the peanut gallery includes me. That was a gutsy performance.
So what do we expect from the rest of the team when one of the stars is struggling? We expect people to step it up. Omar Wattad did. He scored a career high 30 points, including eight three pointers. He came up huge in every way. He had four assists, three rebounds, and only one turnover. He was brilliant.
Ricky Taylor also knocked down some huge shots, including a three late in the game that gave the Mocs a three point lead late in the game. He scored ten points. Taylor also had five rebounds, and four assists.
Taylor and Wattad clearly stepped it up huge with Bell not feeling good. That was very important for the Mocs. Without those two, the Mocs would not have a shot to win this road contest.
DeAntre Jefferson scored ten points and collected eight huge rebounds. He made 8 of 9 from the free throw line, which was great. Unfortunately, he missed a key front end of a one and one with just four seconds left and the Mocs clinging to a one point lead. That was bad time to miss the first free throw. Regardless, Jefferson's free throw shooting has gotten so much better, and the Mocs will need him to continue that trend.
The Mocs outrebounded The Citadel, though they did not get a lot of rebounds. They held The Citadel to just six offensive rebounds, though, which was critical.
Chris Early played just eleven minutes. He had three fouls, so that contributed to some of the problem. Jahmal Burroughs had 26 minutes, and collected four points, four rebounds, and two assists. Burroughs has developed into a very nice role player. My fear is that Early may be getting into the Shulman doghouse. I hope that doesn't happen. We'll see what happens with Early on Saturday against Samford. Burroughs has been providing a bunch of energy off the bench. He is very good in that role. Let's keep him there.
The biggest problem the Mocs had? How about defense. The Bulldogs are one of the worst shooting teams in the country, and they managed to shoot 51% from the field. That is not a good omen for the Mocs. They have got to play better defense than that as they move forward. Too many teams are shooting the ball too well against the Mocs lately. They desperately need to improve on that end of the floor.
But for tonight, with the stunning Appalachian State home loss to UNC-Greensboro, the Mocs have gained a two game advantage in the North. And the Mocs are coming home for a big homestand. So, I'll try to keep the negatives to a minimum for now.
5-0 sure feels good!