Saturday, February 8, 2014

SoCon Saturday Review

Western Carolina 84, Appalachian State 75 (OT)

Key Stat: Mountaineers 2 for 6 and two turnovers in overtime. That was not good for the Mounatineers. They actually started 2 for 3 from the floor in overtime, building a 74-70 lead, then missed their last three shots and committed two key turnovers, and went 1 for 2 from the free throw line. Getting outscored 14-1 in the final three minutes of overtime is disheartening.

Player of the Game: Trey Sumler. Sumler was very good in this one. He went to the free throw line 18 times and made 13. He scored 25 points with two rebounds and four assists. Sumler was very good in this one and the Catamounts needed every bit of it.

What It All Means: Appalachian State was up four in overtime, and it had to be crossing Mountaineer fans minds that they were on the verge of getting to 4-6 in SoCon play and knocking Western Carolina down to 5-4 in SoCon play. Suddenly, the Mountaineers would be back in the bye race. Now, they are 3-7, Western is 6-3, and the bye is all but out for the Mountaineers. With home games against Samford and Wofford next week, they have a tough week ahead. For Western Carolina, there have to be more questions than answers. They had lost three of four coming in, with the lone win coming over The Citadel. Now, it takes overtime to beat a mediocre  (at best) Appalachian State team at home. They have Furman on Monday, before going to Chattanooga and UNCG next week. They look to be in good position for the bye, but the Catamounts have plenty of questions right now and plenty of soul searching. They are plenty capable of going on a run and winning the SoCon Tournament, but they have not been playing like that recently.

Davidson 65, Furman 50

Key Stat: Furman 2 offensive rebounds. The Paladins offense is so mediocre. They have to be coming up with offensive rebounds for them to be able to score consistently. They only came up with two boards. That's not good. That was one of the main reasons the Paladins fell.

Player of the Game: Tyler Kalinoski. Kalinoski scored 14 points, had 6 rebounds, had three assists and three steals, all of which lead the Wildcats (except for rebounds, which Jake Belford collected 7). He made 4 of 9 from three.

What It All Means: Furman is still Furman. Kendrec Ferrara scored just two points. The Paladins are very inconsistent offensively. If the Paladins can beat The Citadel at home next Saturday, they will have basically clinched not finishing in last. But they are two games out of the nine seed right now. That is going to be tough to make up, especially since they have struggled so much, but they do get both the Bulldogs and Appalachian State (the team currently in ninth) at home down the stretch, so maybe they can get into that spot. The Wildcats just keep on rolling. They were tied for first heading into the day, but have now taken the lead over all to themselves. They are looking good for the number one overall seed heading into the tournament. DeMon Brooks only played 18 minutes today because of foul trouble, but there were others stepping up. Brooks needs to stay out of foul trouble if they are going to win three games in three days in Asheville, but the Wildcats are in good position.

Elon 60, Georgia Southern 59

Key Stat: Georgia Southern 3 of 14 from three. The Eagles have to shoot the ball well to win. That's been the problem all year whenthey lose, and today was no different. Yes, this was a heartbreaker and could have easily been won by the Eagles, but they need to shoot the ball better. 

Player of the Game: Jack Isenbarger. Statistically speaking, it was Ryley Beaumont, but when a player hits a three with two seconds left to win the game, it doesn't matter if he was 2 for 16 from the floor and 1 for 12 from three heading into the final shot. All that matters is that he had the guts to keep on shooting and make the last one. For that, he's the player of the game.

What It All Means:  Georgia Southern is not in good shape for the bye. They are 2.5 games out of the final bye. But maybe more importantly, I'm not sure where they are mentally. After blowing a double digit lead against Wofford in the second half and losing by double figures on Thursday, they responded very well on Saturday and nearly won at Elon. But they had their heart ripped out again. How do they respond? With UNCG and Davidson at home next week, they have another chance to prove that they can win a game like this. Where are they mentally? We won't know until Wednesday. For Elon, this is a team that now has won four straight. Three of their next four are on the road, where they are 2-3 in SoCon play. Then they host Davidson and Wofford to end the year. This is probably the toughest finish of any of the top five SoCon teams. If they want to win the SoCon in their final year, they are going to need to build on this emotional win. Lucas Troutman had the flu tonight, and that changed the complexion of this game. It has to make them feel good to win without Troutman.

Samford 92, Chattanooga 85 (OT)

Key Stat: Samford 64.7% from the floor and overtime. The Bulldogs were red hot from the floor in the second half and overtime. They simply could not miss. The Mocs defense has been a problem at times all year, and it was a major problem in the second half of this one.

Player of the Game:  Tim Williams. Williams scored 21 points on 10 of 12 shooting and collected 12 rebounds. He also had four blocks, and the Mocs seemed intimidated at times to go into the paint against him.

What It All Means: The Mocs are 9-2 in SoCon play now. They still own tiebreakers over Elon and Wofford, but the Mocs need to keep on winning. They probably just need one more to get a bye, but to get a second or third seed, they probably need win several more. The Mocs have lost three out of four overall now. They have to start turning this thing around or risk losing everything they worked so hard for during the month of January. For Samford, this was a game they needed just to feel good about where they are as they head forward. They are just two games down on Western Carolina for the final bye, but this team is showing that they are a very dangerous team in the SoCon Tournament. No one will want to play this team in March.

Wofford 77, The Citadel 56

Key Stat: The Citadel 15 turnovers. The Terriers forced the Bulldogs into fifteen turnovers and that was the majordifference in this one. The two teams shot very evenly from the floor, but the Terriers took ten more shots from the floor, mainly because of the turnovers.

Player of the Game: Lee Skinner. Spencer Collins did not score and took just three shots. Karl Cochran only shot 6 of 15, one of his worst games during this win streak.Skinner stepped up, scoring 18 points with 12 rebounds. He got four offensive rebounds even. Let's not completely dismiss that Cochran came up with eight assists himself.

What It All Means: The Terriers closed the gap to one game on Chattanooga for second in the SoCon with their sixth straight win. They continue to look like a team capable of winning the SoCon Tournament and are the hottest team in the conference right now. This is a good basketball team. You couldn't ask for much more right now. The Bulldogs are struggling obviously. They have not won a SoCon game all year so far. They are better than that, but it is hard to find a way that this team comes up with a win in SoCon play. This team seems to be regressing.

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