The Mocs needed to put the Elon game behind them and show up with focus and energy against UNCG on Saturday night. The Mocs did that for the most part. That's why the Mocs jumped out to an eleven point halftime lead.
But, then, the Mocs seemed to relax a bit. They relaxed just a touch at the start, and suddenly the Mocs found themselves in a world of trouble. Down 53-50 with 8:58 left in the game, the Mocs needed something to happen. Casey Jones stepped up and made huge plays down the stretch as the Mocs showed that they could win the game. The lead was three for the Mocs when Martynas Bareika knocked down a big three to make the lead six with 5:30 left. Then, with the lead at four for the Mocs, Z Mason drained another three and pushed the lead up to 7 with 3:28 left. From there the Mocs more or less coasted.
That's Bareika and Jones making the biggest plays in this one, with a dose of Mason. That shows what this team has become- they have become a team. They can rely on anyone to step up at a key moment. They have Z Mason and Rico White, that are scorers and can step up and make plays for this team at any moment. Jones is turning into that kind of player too. The rest of the team is making big plays at big moments. When teams start making things like that happen, it becomes contagious. For this team, winning has become contagious.
The Mocs first half defense held the Spartans to 34.4% from the floor. The Spartans then shot 57.1% from the floor in the second half. That's not good defense for the Mocs. The Mocs need to play a more consistent game in order to keep their winning streak going when they go to Davidson next Thursday. That will be their toughest test yet in SoCon play...by far.
The Mocs did not shoot well from three point range. Bareika was only 2 of 7. White was 2 of 8. Mason was 1 of 3. That's not good three point shooting. The team was 5 of 21 from three point range on the night. They also were outrebounded, 39-33. Those are both bad numbers, to go along with the Spartans second half shooting. But the Mocs found a way to win on a night that they were not playing their best. There are a lot of positives to take away from that. Anyone should have known that the Mocs were due for a letdown tonight. That they were able to win by ten points despite that is impressive.
This team is just that- a team. At 8-0 in SoCon play, the Mocs need to keep on playing as a team if the want to keep on contending in the SoCon race. The Davidson game looms. It's the next game on the schedule.