The Mocs scored 90 points against Samford in their first meeting, while Samford scored 81 in that contest. Samford scored 88 in their last outing against Davidson on Thursday night. They gave up 109.
So I think it's safe to say that this game could feature some serious offensive numbers. The Bulldogs really struggle on the defensive end of the court, and the Mocs have not been known for their defensive prowess throughout the year, even if they have been substantially better in conference play. They rank second in the conference in eFG% defense in conference games. On the other hand, Samford ranks dead last in the conference in that category. They rank dead last in three point shooting defense (something Moc fans can relate to from the past). They rank tenth in the league in terms of fouling opponents. That means the Mocs, who have attempted and made more free throws than any other team in the entire conference, could be spending quite a bit more time at the free throw line.
Raijon Kelly is still not starting but seems to be coming around. He has had five straight games in double figures. He's averaging 16.6 points per game in the last five games, including 19 against both Furman and Davidson in the last two games. That means that he is playing completely differently than he was in the first match-up when he scored just seven points.
Tim Williams is still the clear best player on the roster for the Bulldogs. He is 6-8, 210. That makes him a very difficult match-up for most SoCon teams. He was averaging 17.1 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. He picked up three fouls against Chattanooga in their first meeting, contributing to Z Mason spending a good chunk of the day at the line. He did score 15, but collected just three rebounds in 31 minutes.
Connor Miller is the Bulldogs best three point shooter. He shoots 38% from three point range. Isaiah Williams actually shoots 38.6% and is dangerous as well. He is the Bulldogs second leading scorer as a freshman. Tyler Hood has been playing well at times this year. The 6-6 forward can present match-up problems as well. He was held scoreless against Davidson. That is hard to do that when your team scores 88 points and you play 15 minutes. He only got one shot off.
The Mocs won the first game by getting to the free throw line 41 times (and making 31), while Samford only went 21 times (making 14). Z Mason scored 16 points with ten rebounds. Rico White poured in 28. Casey Jones went 7 of 7 from the floor and scored 14 points.
The Mocs will spend a good chunk of the game at the free throw line. It's what they do. It's what the Bulldogs let other teams do. My bet is that they also come up with a way to get Mason going a bit better than he did in the first meeting. Keeping a handle on Kelly will be one of the keys to this one, along with the two Williams. This is a very dangerous Samford team. The Mocs offense will need to be clicking. It wouldn't hurt if Martynas Bareika spent some time knocking down some threes. The Mocs will score points and come up with the win. It will be very close, but the Mocs eek it out. Mocs 81, Bulldogs 78.