This was a tremendous win for the Mocs. I know that it was not a complete performance, or as good of a game as the games last Thursday and Saturday against The Citadel and College of Charleston. But the Mocs won, in overtime, to come up with a sweep of Samford, and get within one and a half games of the final bye in the SoCon Tournament. One of the teams ahead of them they now own the tiebreaker against by virtue of sweeping them. This was a huge moment for the Mocs.
They took advantage of that moment. They deserve credit for that.
The Mocs outrebounded Samford by 21, which was unbelievable. That was where the Mocs had their biggest edge coming into the game, and they took full advantage of it. They came up with 17 offensive rebounds and the Bulldogs only had 18 defensive rebounds. That was one of the reasons the Mocs were able to win.
On top of that, Samford is a very good three point shooting team, yet on this night, they simply could not make any. They made just 4 of 21 from three point range, which was better than the Mocs pathetic 1 of 14. But it still was not Samford at their best (or even their average). So the Mocs took away the Bulldogs advantage and capitalized on theirs. That's normally a recipe for winning a game, even if it eventually happens in overtime.
Z Mason did not have his best game, though he lead the team in rebounds. He had nine boards, but collected just seven points. He said on Sunday that he had no legs at the end of Saturday's game. In this game, I think that showed a bit. He was not shooting the ball well, but exerted his energy on the boards, and he took advantage of that.
But Mason's lack of scoring was made up for by Lance Stokes. Stokes had one of the best games of his career to date. He aggressively attacked the rim (he did that several times last year with appealing results, but has not shown that athleticism offensively this year) and wound up scoring 13 points. He also had four rebounds. Stokes also forced Raijon Kelly to shoot a long, off-balance three at the end of regulation that would have won the game for Samford. Stokes is such a good defender, and showed some of his offensive skill set off tonight.
Drazen Zlovaric scored 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting and collected seven rebounds. Zlovaric has been playing so much better lately, and he continues to impress. He has come around in recent weeks. With Zlovaric coming around, the Mocs are a much better team. He is playing like many Moc fans expected him to play in the preseason.
Rico White's shooting struggles continued. He shot 2 of 7 from the floor, which means he is 4 of 20 in the last two games now. But he again came up with six assists. He also came up with five rebounds to go along with eight points. He is developing into a decent point guard option.
Gee McGhee really struggled from the free throw line against College of Charleston after weeks of improved shooting from the stripe. In this one, he made five out of six from the charity line. This was huge for McGhee. He bounced back from the poor performance, and put it behind him. I'm impressed with his maturity. He scored 14 points to lead all Mocs. He was the only one to make a three pointer for the Mocs on the night, going one of four from long range.
The Mocs played their best defensive game in a long time. They shut down the Bulldogs from long range. This was an important step for the Mocs. They did not force a lot of turnovers, forcing just eleven on the night.
The Mocs committed sixteen turnovers. That is not great, but considering the game was in overtime, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
The Mocs have grown by leaps and bounds this year. They are a much better team than they were at the beginning of the year. They have to beat Furman on Thursday night in McKenzie. However, if they do that, they will be right in the thick of the race heading into Saturday night at Wofford. The Mocs were claiming fatigue after the Charleston game on Saturday night. They can't be feeling any less fatigue after an intense overtime game against Samford. I don't know if that bodes well for a team with two games in the next five days. That being said, they have to feel good, because in most ways, the Mocs have had their best three game stretch of the season the last three games.
Another huge game on Thursday against the Paladins.