Western Carolina 68, Georgia Southern 67
Key Stat: Georgia Southern 2 of 15 from three point range. Georgia Southern is a team that likes to score a lot of points from three point range. But on this day, they did not do it. They made a mere 2 of 15 from long range, both of those late, one of them coming on the final shot of the game after the Catamounts were already up by four. The Eagles needed to be hot from three point range, and the Catamounts shut them down.
Player of the Game: Brandon Boggs. Boggs did not have a huge game, but he scored 13 points and made a huge three pointer in the second half. He also collected seven critical rebounds and two assists. Boggs made 6 of 12 from the floor for the game.
What It All Means: Western Carolina is now 3-0 having played Elon, UNCG and Georgia Southern. Those are three good SoCon teams. Sitting in that position continues to make them one of the SoCon favorites. They still have to play Davidson (not to mention Chattanooga and Wofford), but at this point it's hard to deny that this team is no worse than the second best team in the SoCon given who they have beaten. Georgia Southern drops to 1-1 in SoCon play. That doesn't mean that they can't still get a bye in the SoCon, but it means that they may not quite be ready to win the SoCon Tournament at this point in the year. That's fine, of course, because they don't need to win it until March. They shot poorly from three point range and from the free throw line. That probably won't happen too many times this year. They were right there with one of the conference favorites despite that. There's really no reason to panic right now.
Chattanooga 70, Wofford 69
Key Stat: Mocs seven blocks. Z Mason came up with four blocks. Lance Stokes came up with three. The Mocs needed all of them to keep the Terriers from scoring. The Mocs are the best shot blocking team in the SoCon and Mason is the best shot blocker in the SoCon. That really helps the Mocs defense step up and be more effective.
Player of the Game: Casey Jones. Jones came up with 19 second half points, 23 points overall and eight rebounds. He made 9 of 12 from the floor and 5 of 6 from the free throw line. Casey Jones continues to develop, just like he did at the end of last year, and continues to improve to the point that he is becoming one of the SoCon's better players.
What It All Means: The Terriers find themselves 2-2 in SoCon play and now have a week to lick their wounds. They play, ironically, Chattanooga at home next Saturday. That will be critical to them in their quest to get back into the SoCon race. They shouldn't be too disappointed at this point. They have lost to two unbeaten SoCon teams at this point. The Mocs are 4-0, but have barely survived a couple of games. Of course, all four have been in the last eight days. I think SoCon teams will need nine or ten wins to get a bye in the SoCon Tournament. That means the Mocs need another five or six wins to get there. That's not going to be easy. But it can be done.
Davidson 78, Appalachian State 66
Key Stat: Davidson eFG of 63.3%. The Wildcats really could not miss on Saturday evening. They made 28 of 49 from the floor and 6 of 11 from three point range. When they shoot the ball that well, the Wildcats are going to be almost impossible to beat. Appalachian State's defense has been struggling all year, but this really made Davidson look very good.
Player of the Game: DeMon Brooks. Brooks collected 19 points on 7 of 8 shooting from the floor and also came up with six rebounds. He was very hot in this one. He obviously just missed one shot. If he is on like that, I don't know who stops him.
What It All Means: Appalachian State is now 0-3 in SoCon play. They jumped out to a ten point lead in this one, but then couldn't hold on. Jason Capel is in trouble. That being said, the Mountaineers have looked better with Jay Canty back. When will they come up with their first D1 win? Could be next week against Chattanooga or Georgia Southern at home. Davidson is 3-0 in SoCon play. They were untested this week. They have two huge games this week. They play UNCG and Elon this week. This is going to be a huge week for them. The Wildcats have looked very good in SoCon play so far.
Elon 74, The Citadel 65
Key Stat: Elon four turnovers. The Phoenix only committed four turnovers. The Citadel shot 50% from the floor. Elon shot 40.3% from the floor and made just 9 of 31 from three point range. They did not dominate the boards. However Elon won because they protected the ball and only had four turnovers compared to the Bulldogs eleven. That was the difference in this game.
Player of the Game: Lucas Troutman. Troutman came up with 19 points and nine rebounds. He also went to the free throw line eight times and made seven. He had four offensive rebounds and five defensive rebounds. He had two blocks in the game as well. Troutman showed up as a monster in this game and he needed to, because The Citadel continues to hang around.
What It All Means: The Citadel is 0-3 now, but have been right in every SoCon game. The Bulldogs will win some SoCon games eventually. They may even be able to get out of the last place spot in the SoCon or even up to the ninth spot. Who knows? This team deserves credit for how they are playing right now. Elon is 2-1 in SoCon play now. They have the game that has been circled on their calendar all year coming up- a trip to Davidson. That game is huge to the Phoenix, because if they want to prove they are a SoCon contender, they need to beat the best. We'll see what develops this week and learn a lot about this Elon team.
Key Stat: Samford 21 of 25 from the free throw line. The Bulldogs made 84% of their free throws, and Furman made 78.6%, but just 11 of 14. That is a ten point difference, and that is how the Bulldogs were able to win a game where they only shot 34.8% from the floor. They also played better defense tonight. Those are the two keys to the Bulldogs winning this one.
Player of the Game: Raijon Kelly. No one had a big game for Samford, but the Bulldogs won the game by two. Kelly scored a three point play with twelve seconds left to put the Bulldogs up two. That big shot and free throw are the reason the Bulldogs won, so, despite the fact that he had just six points, he gets the award in this one.
What It All Means: Furman seemed to have the game in hand, but then blew it at Samford. Now the Paladins fall to 0-4 in SoCon play. I'll say it again- this is a really dangerous time for Niko Medved's team. They have been playing well, and haven't been bad in SoCon play, but haven't gotten a win, and now the team has to start questioning everything. Medved will have to do a lot of his best work to keep this team together. Samford is now up to 1-3 and maybe this starts to turn things around for the Bulldogs as they try to get back into the bye race after losing three games. A comeback win like this is just what the Bulldogs needed to get things going. We'll see if this gets things going.