Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mocs 67, Paladins 52

The Mocs showed up on Saturday night and did what they had to do- jumped out of the gates to a big lead, never let the lead get closer than nine points, and put away the Paladins. It was not always a thing of a beauty, but it was just what the doctor ordered for a team that was humbled on Thursday night at Davidson.

The Mocs offense did not look particularly good on this night. They did not get to the free throw line much, which was unusual for the Mocs. They made 43.1% of their shots, and collected just 29.7% of the possible offensive rebounds, which is not terrible but is not great. They made just 28.6% of their three pointers (which is infinitely better than the 0-fer that they made at Davidson on Thursday).

But the Mocs defense showed up in a way that they almost have not in recent games. The intensity was dialed up on Saturday night against the Paladins, and Furman did not respond, turning it over 19 times. The Mocs held them to 28.6% shooting from the floor in the first half, and for much of the second half it was not much better. The Paladins made some shots down the stretch after the game was decided to up their shooting percentage, but the Mocs defended and put the clamps down on Furman in this one.

What impressed me most about this game? The Mocs beat Furman by 9 the first time they played a month ago, and it was every bit of that close, as the Paladins and Mocs were close late into the game. This game was a pretty easy win for the Mocs and they won by fifteen. This is the second time the Mocs played a team for a second time. The first was against Wofford. They beat Wofford by one the first time and then by fourteen the second time. This is an indicator of good coaching and scouting, particularly if the trend continues. They have improved against their opponent the second time they have played them both times so far this year. With a road game next week at Samford, that will be a tough trend to continue. We'll have to wait and see if it does.

Z Mason was very good in this one. He scored ten points with thirteen rebounds and five blocks. He went over 1000 points for his career and 100 blocks for his career in this one. That was huge. He showed a lot of power in this game and played well. Casey Jones again scored 18 points. He continues to become one of the Mocs most consistent players. Martynas Bareika scored 16 points, and played very well. Bareika is streaky, but when he is on, the Mocs are very difficult to beat.

The Mocs take a break from SoCon action on Tuesday and travel to Eastern Kentucky. What happens there is anyone's guess. But Saturday's game at Samford is huge. If the Mocs can win that one, they will have all but clinched a bye in the SoCon Tournament. It will also keep them in good position in the SoCon race overall. The Mocs really need to keep on winning SoCon games. That's what makes Tuesday's game so interesting against Eastern Kentucky. It's hard to know how focused the Mocs will even be on that one- or how focused I even really want them to be.


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