Western Carolina 67, Samford 64
Stat of the Game: Catamounts 42.9 OR%. The Catamounts came up with fifteen offensive rebounds and the Bulldogs had just twenty defensive rebounds. That was one of the main reasons Western Carolina came up with the win. They were able to control the offensive glass. Samford, with Tim Williams, should be better at rebounding than they are. They are not a good rebounding team. Western Carolina, while not big, is a decent rebounding team and that made all the difference in this one.
Player of the Game: James Sinclair. Sinclair lead all Catamounts with 15 points, and also shot 5 of 6 from the floor. On top of that, he collected seven rebounds, one assist and two steals. He made 2 of 3 from three point range. Sinclair was the leader of the Catamounts in this close one.
What It All Means: Samford falls to 1-4 in SoCon play after another frustrating loss. They were very close to winning on the road against one of the SoCon elite. The Bulldogs are struggling, but they may be slightly closer than we think they are. Remember- they went on a run last year during conference play. If they can get hot in late January, early February again, maybe they can get into position to compete for a SoCon bye. They get UNCG and Elon at home next week- two more shots against top SoCon teams.The Catamounts have been very close to losing their last two games now. They have to go to Wofford on Monday night. That game is going to be a war. Then they get Davidson at home. Yes, Western Carolina has established themselves as the team to beat in the SoCon right now (they beat Elon, Elon beat Davidson, therefore the Catamounts are the team to beat at this point), but they better not have lacksadaisical performances against Wofford and Davidson this week, or they will have two losses and be knocked off their perch.
Appalachian State 81, Georgia Southern 68
Stat of the Game: Mountaineers 57.1 eFG%. The Mountaineers are not a good offensive team. They don't shoot the ball well. But against Georgia Southern on Saturday, they could not miss. They made ten threes. They made 48.2% of their shots from the floor. When throwing in the ten threes, they shot a stunning 57.1% on eFG. That's unreal for this club. They also dominated the glass and won the game rather easily.
Player of the Game: Tommy Spagnolo. Where did that come from? Spagnolo scored 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting, but completely dominated the glass, coming up with sixteen rebounds, including five offensive rebounds. He also had two assists a steal and a block. Spagnolo was active. He scored and rebounded, and was the main reason that the Mountaineers came up with their first win over a D1 team this year.
What It All Means: Georgia Southern now has lost two straight Saturdays, and find themselves falling behind the eight ball a little bit. They shot better in this one, particularly from long range. But they made eleven three pointers for the game and only seven two pointers. They have good guard play, but need to find some interior game to be able to win some more games in SoCon play. Appalachian State got their first D1 win of the year. While this hardly puts them in a position to get a bye or anything, this at least has to make them feel better about themselves. Their next game is Thursday at The Citadel. That game will give them an opportunity to get a second straight win. What happens if they get that one? Does this team's confidence soar and give them a chance to make a run at a bye? Or have they dug themselves too big of a hole to get out of?
Davidson 93, UNCG 82
Stat of the Game: UNCG 31 fouls. Where is the Spartans strength? It's in their starting five. They are not a particularly deep team, and Kyle Cain and Kayel Locke have to be on the floor. Those two combined for 8 fouls and just 47 combined minutes. They needed to play at least sixty minutes combined for the Spartans to have a chance. All those fouls really meant that the Spartans had to go to their bench. They just didn't have the bodies to compete with Davidson in a war of attrition.
Player of the Game: DeMon Brooks. Brooks scored 24 points and had nine rebounds. He made 8 of 13 from the field and 8 of 10 from the free throw line. Brooks was brilliant and dominant. With Cain and Locke in foul trouble, Brooks was a dominant force inside in the paint.
What It All Means: The Wildcats needed to get back to their winning ways after losing to Elon on Thursday night. They showed up and won relatively easily on the road against a good team. This team is a bit of a mystery. If they show up, the Wildcats are as good if not better than any team in the SoCon. If they don't show up, they are still better than most SoCon teams, but there are a handful capable of beating them. This is the second time the Spartans have played a big time SoCon team and the second time they have lost by double digits. They are just not quite ready for primetime yet, it seems. They are a good team, but I think it is more than fair to question whether or not this team is really a top flight contender.
Chattanooga 71, Wofford 57
Stat of the Game: Wofford 33.9% from the floor. The Terrier are not a particularly good offensive team, but Wofford shot a bit better last week against the Mocs. This week, the Terriers could not make a shot to save their life. The shooting percentage really prevented the Terriers from having a chance to win the game. Karl Cochran and Spencer Collins combined to shoot 10 of 30 from the field in this game. Those two take a lot of shots and have to be shooting well for the Terriers to have their best chance to win. With those two off, the Mocs had a much easier time winning.
Player of the Game: Z Mason. Sometimes it is easy to get cute and not pick the best player in the game. But Mason, despite his poor shooting day, scored twelve points with fifteen rebounds and five blocked shots. He keeps on blocking shots. He keeps on rebounding. He keeps on scoring in double figures. This guy is instoppable.
What It All Means: The Mocs came up with yet another win. They are now 6-0. But it is also true that they have not yet played a true top of the line SoCon team. They have not played Davidson, Elon or Western Carolina. That's the next challenge. The Mocs will battle Elon at home on Thursday and then we'll find out if the Mocs are a true contender, or more in the place that UNCG seems to currently be (see above). They are 4-0 on the road. That means that the Mocs have played half of their conference road games...and won all of them. Wofford now has three SoCon losses and has been swept by Chattanooga. They are not a great offensive club and they really did not look particularly good tonight after having a week off, playing at home and getting ready for the Mocs a second time. They are still a bye contender, but it is beginning to look like they are a step behind some of the other contenders.
Furman 76, The Citadel 71
Stat of the Game: Paladins ten three pointers made. Furman made 10 of 20 from three point range. Charlie Reddick made 4 of 9 and Larry Wideman made 3 of 5. Shoot the ball that well and you are going to win a lot of basketball games. The Paladins snuck by with the road win against a Bulldog team that had been playing well, and the Paladins red hot shooting made all the difference.
Player of the Game: Kendrec Ferrara. The Paladin player scored 27 points and collected ten rebounds. He made 12 of 17 shots from the floor. He had five offensive rebounds and five defensive rebounds. He was the main individual reason that the Paladins came up with the win. He was the inside presence and the Paladins were also making threes. Wow.
What It All Means: The Paladins finally get their first SoCon win. This is critical for Niko Medved. They now get a week off before they play Wofford and Samford at home. Can Furman get some home wins and get back into the bye race? Maybe. Maybe not. The Paladins have been pretty good prior to SoCon play. So now that they got a win, maybe they can build on it. What an important win this was for Medved's team. The Citadel, once again, just simply could not get it done. They really just don't know how to win. Next Thursday they get Appalachian State at home. I'm really curious about what happens when this team finally breaks through and wins a SoCon game. When that happens, will they go on a big streak of winning? Right now, all the breaks are going against them. Eventually, the breaks have even out, right? RIGHT? It's a tough time to be a Bulldog fan for sure.