Elon 83, Appalachian State 76
Key Stat: Elon 11 of 25 from three point range. When the Phoenix shoot the ball well, they are incredibly difficult to beat. Despite the fact that they were outrebounded today and that they could not prevent the Mountaineers from making shots, they were making shots at a very good clip, and that was enough to get the Phoenix to come up with the win.
Player of the Game: Lucas Troutman. Troutman scored 21 points with five rebounds. He made 8 of 10 from the floor and five of five from three point range. He did not even attempt a three. Given all those other three point shots falling, Troutman was the cherry on top.
What It All Means: For the Phoenix, it was not an easy game. It was never tremendously close, but Elon never quite put them away either. They shot the ball so well and so smoothly, that they were able to come up with the win. They now sit at 5-3 in SoCon play- tied for fourth with Western Carolina. They host UNCG and Georgia Southern next week. They are up by one game on the Eagles for the bye. Win both and they create true separation in the bye race. Appalachian State has now lost two straight games and is 2-6 in SoCon play. Heading into the week, they had a real shot at the bye, but that probably has gone by the wayside. Yes, technically they are still alive. Eight straight wins gets them to 10-6, and I think 9-7 would be enough for a bye. But their schedule is not easy down the stretch. They can probably kiss any chance at the bye good-bye.
Davidson 62, The Citadel 43
Key Stat: Two free throws for The Citadel. The Bulldogs are a good free throw shooting team, but could only get to the line twice. In a game that was very close until the final minutes, if the Bulldogs could have spent some more time at the line, they might have been able to be in the lead heading into the crucial final minutes.
Player of the Game: DeMon Brooks. Brooks had 23 points on 9 of 10 shooting, with eight rebounds, two assists, and three blocks. On a night that the rest of the team shot 38.9% from the floor, Brooks brought his A game and lead the Wildcats to the victory.
What It All Means: The Citadel showed some fight for the first time in a few weeks, but it wasn't anywhere near enough. They now have 20 losses, and have yet to win a SoCon game. It's hard to see a SoCon win on the schedule, but if the Bulldogs get back to fighting hard, they will probably steal one somewhere. Davidson did not bring their A game today. After the blowout of Chattanooga on Thursday, they showed up and went through the motions for much of the game. But in the end, the Wildcats did enough to win. Three of their next four are on the road, though one is a return trip to The Citadel. Davidson is certainly good enough to go through and win all the remaining SoCon games. They'll have to play better than today to do it.
Georgia Southern 64, UNCG 62
Key Stat: Georgia Southern 16 offensive rebounds. The two teams shot the same number of free throws and made the same number. They made the same number of threes. They had the same number of turnovers. The Spartans shot significantly better from the floor than the Eagles. But in the end, the Eagles were dominant on the glass and got ten more offensive rebounds. That helped them take twelve more shots than the Spartans and make one more field goal- the final margin.
Player of the Game: Kyle Doyle. I'll stick to my above point. Doyle collected thirteen points and twelve rebounds. He had six offensive rebounds. Without his prowess on the offensive glass, the Eagles do not come away with this victory.
What It All Means: What a huge road win for Georgia Southern! Last week, they were 2-4 and looking like they were in a tough spot. But after beating The Citadel and UNCG this week, the Eagles are back to 4-4 in SoCon play. They are one game back of the final bye- Western Carolina and Elon are tied at 5-3. They have a very difficult six games coming up- at Wofford, at Elon, home against UNCG, home against Davidson, at Chattanooga, home against Elon. That's five games against the top five teams in the league in their next six games. If they get a bye, they'll earn it. UNCG is not out of the bye spot, but they are 4-5 and a game and a half out of the final bye. They have seven games left, but six of their final seven are against top five SoCon teams. They really could ill afford a loss in this one. They go to Elon next Thursday in their lone game. A win there would put them in decent position. They really could not afford a loss in either home game this week, and they got one today. Kyle Cain and Kayel Locke combined for 17 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting 5 of 14 from the floor with seven fouls. Not good enough.
Chattanooga 67, Furman 52
Key Stat: Furman 28.6% from the floor in the first half. The Mocs were not brilliant offensively in this one, but they shut the Paladins down in the first half and that was why the Mocs came away with the win that was easier than even the final score indicates. It was the first half (and the first ten minutes of the second half) on the defensive side that won this game for the Mocs.
Player of the Game: Z Mason. Mason came up with five blocked shots, ten points and thirteen rebounds. He came up with his 100th block of his career and 1000th point of his career in this one. He is going down as one of the better Mocs in their history, in a history full of good ones.
What It All Means: Furman is in no position to sit around talking about getting a bye. They now have to win out more than likely to get one....and that includes trips to Davidson and Western Carolina. Not going to happen. The Paladins are looking like a team that can't figure out what to do with themselves right now. They host Samford on Monday. For the Mocs this game was critical to get back onto the winning track. After the embarrassing performance at Davidson, to come up with the easy win tonight was good. The Mocs take a game off of the SoCon race this week when they go to a good Eastern Kentucky team. Next Saturday, they go to Samford, and that game will be very important in sorting out the byes and where the Mocs seeding might be in the SoCon tournament.
Wofford 77, Samford 58
Key Stat: Samford starters- 17 points. Huh? How is that even possible? Tyler Hood scored just four, which matches what Isaiah Williams scored. Tim Williams just got nine points. Jordan Capps and Connor Miller didn't get any points. That means the bench scored 41 points, which is nice, but the starters have to play better than that.
Player of the Game: Spencer Collins. Collins scored 16 points and seven rebounds. He made 6 of 10 from the floor. Collins and the Terriers have been much better offensively lately, and that's why they have won four straight to get to 6-3 in SoCon play and in the third spot in the standings.
What It All Means: Samford is now 3-5 in SoCon play and two games out of the final bye race. They go to Furman on Monday night before hosting Davidson and Chattanooga next weekend. The Bulldogs have a huge week ahead of them. They have a slightly easier schedule than other SoCon teams chasing the bye from behind. So they do have a chance. But they better do some damage this week. The Terriers are playing much better basketball right now. They have gotten to be actually efficient offensively in recent weeks. They are playing well enough to win a SoCon title at this point. They are behind a couple of teams in the standings, but I talked last week about the importance of finishing third in the SoCon race. They are in a good position for that. They'll be favored in their next five games (one non-D1 game), and that would put them at 10-3. They would go to Davidson and Elon before coming home to finish with UNCG. They almost look like a team that has clinched a bye, even though they are just up 1.5 games on the final bye spot right now.