The Mocs played a near flawless first half and were up by 19 points at one point and were up 15 at the half. In the end, the Mocs had survive a last couple of minutes rally by Samford and hold on for a nine point win.
Z Mason was not himself on Thursday night. He made just 2 of 8 shots from the floor, with one of those being a three pointer. That was good for five points. But he made 11 of 14 from the free throw line and scored 16 points to go along with ten rebounds. That shows two things. First of all, it shows the Mocs can win a game without Mason dominating from the floor. Secondly, it shows that Mason knows how to be a contributor even if he isn't making shots from the floor. He has to to be able to get to the free throw in situations like that- and he did just that. He also came up with five blocks and three steals. He has become a block machine. He's only 6-6 people! A 6-6 guy should not be leading the SoCon in blocks and really becoming more and more dominant each and every game in the paint.
Five Mocs wound up in double figures. Mason had 16. Rico White finished with 28 off the bench, including 12 of 12 from the free throw line. White has been a revelation since he came back from injury. He has always been a hot shooter, and he has stepped up in a huge way. The Mocs needed another scorer. They have one in White. He has opened up the offense for guys like Martynas Bareika, Gee McGhee and Casey Jones- all of whom scored in double figures on Thursday night. Jones made 7 of 7 from the field, and he is one of the leaders in the conference in field goal percentage. McGhee came up with nine rebounds and four assists to go along with 7 of 10 from the free throw line. Bareika, who use to be pretty much just a shooter, but he has developed an ability to get to the basket. He made two threes and five shots from the floor.
Yes, the Mocs gave up 81 points. A full 48 of those were in the second half. The Bulldogs shot 47.5% in the second half from the floor. They shot just 42.3% in the first half and the Mocs shot 51.5%. The Mocs were really good in the first half offensively, and were not bad defensively. Tim Williams scored 15 points with seven rebounds and five blocks, but he was under control for much of the game. That was a very important piece to the puzzle as well.
The Mocs have not beaten a team with a SoCon win yet. On Saturday night, that can change. Wofford is 2-1 in SoCon play and comes in with a lot of expectations. People like Ken Pomeroy expects the Terriers to go 10-6 in SoCon play and come up with the fourth seed in the conference tournament. That means that Saturday is a big game. Wofford was playing in Spartanburg on Thursday night and was taken to overtime by The Citadel before winning. Should be a big night. Hopefully, a big crowd will show up, even though it is opposite an NFL playoff game (Indianapolis at New England).