For the first fifteen minutes of the first half and the first ten minutes of the second half, the Mocs played as well as they have played all year long. They attacked the basket consistently offensively. That's something they have done consistently well throughout the year, but they seemed to do it even better tonight than usual.
They played aggressive defense that seemed to result in turnovers, thought they only forced nine. Regardless, the defense was aggressive, the rebounding was explosive, and the Mocs seemed to have numerous break aways in the first half. They were playing fast, but under control. They were playing with energy. After listening to Coach Will Wade after the game, he describes it as playing with edge. He was right. That was the perfect word to describe it. Edge was an incredible word.
This was the best the Mocs have looked in a while, and it came at the perfect time. It should serve as a reminder to the rest of the SoCon that when the Mocs are playing well, they are a very good team. It comes on the heels of losing three games out of four, and the Mocs needed some positive momentum. It came against a team that was chasing them in the standings. If the Mocs had lost tonight, it is hard to say that the bye would have been in jeopardy, but they would have been feeling real heat in the race to get to the second level of byes, as I am calling it. That second level is getting a top three seed, and it is what the Mocs desperately need to put themselves in the best position to make a run in Asheville.
Z Mason reasserted why he is one of the SoCon's best players with 23 points, 8 rebounds and three blocks. Casey Jones had some nice moves, scored 14 points with five rebounds, and made 8 of 10 from the free throw line. Gee McGhee may have had the best overall game of his career. He had 16 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal. He did have four turnovers, which is unfortunate for him, but he played really well. Martynas Bareika, not in the starting lineup for the first time in a while, scored ten points off the bench. Rico White struggled from the floor, but did score eleven points.
It was a solid performance against a good team. Trey Sumler scored just 12 points. The Mocs made 25 of 35 from the free throw line. The Catamounts made 17 of 26 from the stripe.
The Mocs are now 4-1 against teams in the current Top Five in SoCon play. That's a really good mark, and speaks to that the Mocs are not just beating up on the mediocre competition of the SoCon, but on the best the SoCon has to offer. Yes, they were hammered by Davidson, but they have played well against every other team in the SoCon.
They now have six days before they play Georgia Southern at home. That will be another big test for the Mocs as they move forward in the SoCon race. It should be a good game. Hopefully there will be a nice crowd.