Friday, January 17, 2014

SoCon Thursday Review- 1/16/14

Elon 87, Davidson 85 (OT)

Key Stat: Phoenix 56.0% eFG%. Yes, the Wildcats had been playing great defense during SoCon play and had lulled me into believing they had figured out the defensive end of the floor. Turns out that it may have been the lack of offensive talent they were playing. The Phoenix just did not miss many shots. The Wildcats had serious defensive problems in this one and that is why they could not pull off the win. On top of that, the Phoenix, a really poor offensive rebounding team, came up with 33.3% on offensive rebounding percentage. The Wildcats couldn't let them do that.

Player of the Game: Lucas Troutman. Troutman backed up his big words from earlier this week with a dominant performance. He scored 28 points with twelve rebounds. He made 11 of 21 from the floor. The Phoenix rode their star throughout this one.

What It All Means: Elon is a real threat to win the SoCon. After the twelve point road loss at Western Carolina earlier this month, I thought they were overrated. It turns out, I may have been wrong. Going into Davidson and coming up with the win was huge. They proved that the stage and the moment was NOT too big for them, which was a surprise to me. I am thoroughly impressed...and stand corrected. Davidson lost an overtime game to a really good SoCon team. So should we be worried about the Wildcats. Yes. This was a home loss. They let Elon get offensive rebounds. They allowed Elon to shoot lights out from the floor. DeMon Brooks had 28 points and ten rebounds, even though he fouled out. This game exposes some of Davidson's flaws. They are still inconsistent and need to correct these things.

Chattanooga 80, Appalachian State 70

Key Stat: Mountaineers 21.4% from three point range. Simply put, the Mountaineers can't win if they aren't scoring. They scored just 29 points in the first half as they fell behind by 11. They have to knock down shots. They made just 3 of 14 from long distance. Tab Hamilton was just 1 of 5 from three point range. If they had knocked down a couple of more threes, maybe the Mountaineers could have won this one.

Player of the Game: Z Mason. Mason scored 22 points with 12 rebounds and six blocks. Is there anything he can't do? He's a monster on both ends of the floor. He also changes the way the game is played. Every team has to be very aware of where he is when they are on offense. That can force teams into bad three point shots, and the Mountaineers weren't hitting them. He has changed the way the game is played on that end of the floor.

What It All Means: The Mocs are 5-0 in SoCon play and are 3-0 on the road in SoCon play. With a 3-0 road record, the Mocs may be in better shape than a list of who they have beaten indicates. They have just five conference road games left. Now, their five toughest road games are left, but if the Mocs could eek out another road win or two, they could turn out to be a legitimate contender in the SoCon race. Appalachian State is still searching for their first D1 win. They'll get there eventually. Jay Canty is a good player, but there is no one else on that team that scares you offensively. Tab Hamilton is the best shooter, but if he is not knocking down shots, then who else do they turn to. Mike Neal? Tevin Baskin (who was scoreless tonight)?  Michael Obacha actually played like an offensive threat tonight. That was a boost.

Georgia Southern 88, Furman 81 (OT)

Key Stat: Eagles 11 of 21 from three point range. Remember how Georgia Southern couldn't make a three against Western Carolina last Saturday? There was no holdover. The Eagles knocked down 11 of 21 from long range. How do you beat a team on the road when they are shooting like that? I guess Furman did not answer that question. They couldn't quite close the deal.

Player of the Game: Jelani Hewitt. Hewitt had 21 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. He also knocked down the game tying shot late in regulation. Hewitt is a jack of all trades. He is one the short list for the SoCon Player of the Year. He deserves that kind of recognition.

What It All Means: The Paladins are 0-5 in SoCon play. They just can't buy a win. This was another close loss for the Paladins, and this time they shot 55% from the floor and Stephen Croone poured in 26 points. It wasn't enough. Niko Medved hasn't lost the team yet, but things are starting to look a lot more difficult. The Eagles are now 2-1 in SoCon play. That's not reason to celebrate in and of itself, but the Paladins have a trip to Appalachian State on Saturday. If they can get that win in Boone, they can get to 3-1 before a week where they host Wofford and go to Davidson. We'll learn more about the Eagles next week...if they avoid the upset in Boone.

UNCG 69, The Citadel 65 (OT)

Key Stat: UNCG outrebounds The Citadel, 45-34. The Spartans did not shoot the ball well, but it did not hurt them as much as it should have because they dominated the boards (getting 13 offensive rebounds to 4 for the Bulldogs) and committed four fewer turnovers than the Bulldogs. Those extra possessions kept them in the game and lead to the Spartans being able to get to overtime and come up with the win.

Player of the Game: Kyle Cain. Both Cain and Kayel Locke deserve mention here as Locke had 21 points and eight rebounds. That being said, Cain scored 20 points and collected sixteen rebounds. That's a heck of a basketball game. The Spartans needed everything Cain gave them to escape the upset bid.

What It All Means: The Bulldogs remain winless in SoCon play, but it is their second overtime SoCon loss. They also lost to the Mocs by four and Elon by nine. Ummm....This is a hard luck team. If this team ever wins a game, they may run off several in a row as they gain confidence. Furman and Appalachian State are at Charleston in the next two games for The Citadel. They may go on a little streak here, and if they win both of those, Western Carolina  may need to be nervous going to Charleston next Saturday. UNCG has won three straight SoCon games since losing to Western Carolina in the conference opener. But now, it is measuring stick time. The Spartans get Davidson at home. I'm not concerned by this performance for the Spartans- the Bulldogs have been playing everyone close and it is only natural for a young team like this to look past the winless team towards Davidson at home in two days. We'll know way more about the Spartans on Saturday night.

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