Saturday, February 15, 2014

SoCon Saturday Review

Davidson 88, Georgia Southern 73

Key Stat: Davidson 56 shots, Georgia Southern 48. Georgia Southern shot 50% from the floor. They shot 50% from three point range, knocking down ten of them. They made 15 free throws, just like Davidson did. Yet, the Wildcats got two more offensive rebounds and committed four fewer turnovers. That was part of what helped Davidson get off eight more shots than the Eagles. The Wildcats shot 55.4% from the floor. They took eight more shots, and made seven more. That will help you win every time.

Player of the Game: Brian Sullivan. Sullivan scored 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the floor, 5 of 10 from three point range. Sullivan also had three rebounds and three assists. Sullivan was tremendous. He is averaging 21.7 points per game over the last three games.

What It All Means: Davidson continues to show some flaws away from home on the defensive end of the floor. They play better defense at home it seems, but the road defense has been a problem. What does that mean for Asheville? I'm not really sure. They are such an efficient offensive team they can beat most teams on their schedule just by playing efficient offense. If they do not figure out the defensive end, there could be trouble eventually. But that's poking holes into a very good team that is inching closer to winning the SoCon regular season title. Georgia Southern is now just about out of the bye race. They have eight SoCon losses, and it would be pretty amazing if an eight loss team got a bye. But they do need to keep on winning, because there is a significant difference in the six seed and the seven seed, and also in the seven seed and the eight seed. Right now, they are tied for the eight seed and only one half game out of the seven seed. The Eagles, who looked good at times tonight behind Jelani Hewitt's 32, need to win to get up to the seven if they can.

Furman 76, The Citadel 67

Key Stat: Furman nine blocks. The Paladins were an intimidating presence in the paint to the Bulldogs. Furman came up with nine blocks, four by Adonis Rwabigwi, who is rapidly developing into a solid performer. There were two more by Kendrec Ferrara, and one each by Larry Wideman, Charlie Reddick and William Gates Jr.

Player of the Game: Stephen Croone. I know Furman has exactly two SoCon wins, and both of them have come over The Citadel. But Croone is one of the best players in the SoCon. Croone scored 23 on 7 of 12 shooting from the floor. He was 1 of 5 from three point range, and 8 of 10 from the free throw line. He had five rebounds, four assists and one steal. He did all that in just 25 minutes because of foul trouble.

What It All Means: The Bulldogs are now all but locked into the eleven seed in the SoCon Tournament. They really just don't know how to win basketball games. If they ever win one, they may win a couple. They get Davidson on Monday and go to Western Carolina next Saturday. After that, they will host Samford and Georgia Southern. They may be able to sneak away with one or two of those before Asheville. Furman has only two SoCon wins, but they are both over The Citadel. That means they have a virtual three game lead over the Bulldogs right now for the ten seed. But they are down by two games to both Georgia Southern and Appalachian State. This team is a dangerous team I think in Asheville. They could use a couple of wins before that to boost their confidence. They go to Wofford and that's a tough match-up for them, but then come home for Appalachian State, Elon and Georgia Southern. It would not be surprising if they came up with two wins in those final three.

Wofford 64, Appalachain State 58

Key Stat: Appalachian State 19.1% OR. The Mountaineers only collected 19.1% of the offensive rebounds in this game, coming up with just four offensive rebounds. Yes, Appalachian State shot over 51% from the floor, but you have to come up with more rebounds than that to take advantage when there are misses.

Player of the Game: Lee Skinner. So Karl Cochran was bound to struggle shooting again at some point. He made just 3 of 15 from the floor in this one after shooting over 50% during the six game winning streak. His struggles were a big part of what kept the Mountaineers in the game. But Skinner scored 17 with nine rebounds and three assists. Skinner made 6 of 9 from the floor. He came up with four offensive rebounds. Skinner came up huge in this one.

What It All Means: The Terriers have now won seven straight in SoCon play and keep slim hopes alive of winning the SoCon regular season title. They are now up by three and a half games for a bye. Wofford hosts Furman and UNCG down the stretch. They also go to Davidson and Elon. That's not an easy schedule, but they should be in good shape for a bye. After they play Furman, what happens at Davidson next Saturday? That game will tell us a ton about how good Wofford really is. The seven game win streak has been great, but only one has come against a team currently in the top six in the conference. So the streak may be slightly overblown. We'll know a lot more next Saturday. Appalachian State had Jay Canty back for the second game, but he did not start again. So he is still limited. Seriously, with him and Tommy Spagnolo both in the lineup, I can imagine a situation where they make a run in Asheville. This is a team that is close to some breakthroughs. Like Georgia Southern, there is a difference in the six seed from the seven, and a difference in the seven from the eight. The Mountaineers are only a half game out of the seven seed. They need to win some games to get there. Unfortunately for them, they have one home game against Western Carolina and then wrap up with three road games- at Furman, at Samford and at Chattanooga. The Samford game may be the biggest left on their schedule.

Elon 86, Samford 69

Key Stat: Elon 62.1%  eFG. The Phoneix were red hot from the floor. They knocked down 53.4% from the floor and made 10 of 22 from three point range. The Bulldogs have been known to give up big offensive performances, and this was another one. The Phoenix are very difficult to beat when they play offense that well.
Player of the Game: Lucas Troutman. Troutman had 16 points, ten rebounds and three blocks. He made 7 of 10 from the floor and collected nine defensive rebounds. He made only 2 of 5 from the free throw line. Troutman had another special game.

What It All Means: The Bulldogs have now lost two straight games. They don't play again until February 24, when they go to The Citadel. Then they close with Appalachian State and Western Carolina at home. Again, there is a difference in the six seed, the seven seed, and the eight seed. The Bulldogs are one game behind UNCG, but tied in the win column for the six seed. They are a half game up, but tied in the loss column with Georgia Southern and Appalachian State. This team is in trouble for the bye (eight losses probably ends any hopes), but the Bulldogs need to show something in the final couple of weeks. They are so bad on the defensive end of the floor so much of the time. The Phoenix are 8-3 in SoCon play. They have a huge five days starting next Thursday. They go to UNCG, Georgia Southern and Furman. That's three road games in five days. Then they host Wofford and Davidson. That is a really tough finish. If Elon is going to finish first, second or third in the SoCon, they are going to earn it. This was one of the Phoenix most complete performances in a while, though. If they are going to play like that, they are going to win a lot of basketball games down the stretch. I've said I think the two and three seed have a big advantage over being a four or five seed, so Elon really needs to beat out Wofford or Chattanooga (who currently are one half game and one and a half games ahead of them in the standings) for the second or third seed, if they can't catch Davidson for first.

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