Thursday, February 6, 2014

SoCon Thursday Review

Appalachian State 54, The Citadel 45

Key Stat: The Citadel 18.2 OR%.  The Bulldogs missed 32 shots. They only got six offensive rebounds. That is not good. They needed to do substantially better if they wanted to win. The Mountaineers rebounding prominence on the defensive glass was the main reason that Appalachian State was able to pull away and get the low scoring victory.

Player of the Game: Tommy Spagnolo. Spagnolo has really proven invaluable since Jay Canty went down with his injury. He made 5 of 7 from the floor for 12 points and also collected 12 rebounds, including three offensive boards.

What It All Means: The Citadel continues to struggle. They have no SoCon wins. Davidson and Wofford come to Charleston the next two games for the Bulldogs. That will not make it an y easier. The trip to Furman on February 15 is their best chance for a win left on the schedule, probably. For the Mountaineers, they seem to be out of the bye race, but they find themselves at 3-6, way ahead of Furman and The Citadel and closing the gap on UNCG and Samford (just half a game back) and also Georgia Southern (just one game back). They are 2.5 games out of the final bye, but with the trip to Western Carolina this Saturday, they can narrow that this weekend. With the news that Canty is about to begin basketball related activities and may be back sooner than expected, is their still life in these Mountaineers? Maybe.

Wofford 74, Georgia Southern 61

Key Stat: Terriers 64% shooting in the second half. The Eagles were up 52-41 at one point, but the Terriers hot shooting down the stretch (included in their 64% shooting) was the main reason that Wofford came up with the win. An incredible 33-9 run over the last twelve minutes is unbelievable.

Player of the Game: Karl Cochran. Cochran shot 12 of 22 from the floor and scored 29 points. He made 4 of 10 from three point range. He had five rebounds too. Cochran was overrated last year. He is starting to turn underrated actually. He has been on such a tear that he may be hard to ignore in SoCon Player of the Year voting.

What It All Means: For Georgia Southern, this is devastating. They were up 11 points and coasting along to a win that would be a half game behind Wofford. But suddenly, the Terriers came to life and the Eagles have to be devastated. The trip to Elon this weekend to put this game behind them is huge. The Eagles need to win at Elon now, maybe more than they did if they had just lost this game in a normal fashion. For Wofford, they continue to show the offensive prowess that makes them a real threat in March. This team is dangerous now that they are making shots offensively. They have always played solid defense, but the offense coming to life has been the difference. Cochran and Collins continue to be scorching hot from the floor. If they are this hot, I'm curious who beats them from here on out. Trips to Davidson and Elon are the toughest remaining tests, and they will be major challenges.

Elon 72, UNCG 66

Key Stat: Elon 54.8% shooting from two point range.  The Phoenix were only 2 of 20 from long range. That meant that they would have been really in a lot of trouble if they were not knocking down almost 55% of their two point shots. The Spartans continue to struggle a bit defensively.

Player of the Game: Ryley Beaumont. Beaumont scored 14 points with nine rebounds. He made 6 of 10 from the floor. He had five offensive rebounds and four defensive rebounds. Beaumont is really an underrated played on the Phoenix.

What It All Means: The Spartans are in real trouble. The schedule is so difficult from here on out. The easiest game may be a trip to Georgia Southern. This team could get caught from behind by Appalachian State, who they have beaten twice. The offense really struggled tonight and looked to lack rhythm. This team gets into foul trouble more than any othe SoCon team, it seems. This team seems to have more talent than some of the teams ahead of them. When they put it together (even if it is next year), they will be a tough out. The Phoenix are 6-3 in SoCon play. They have some tough but not impossible games ahead of them in the coming weeks, before the final two games at home against Wofford and Davidson. If things break right for them, they could have everything on the line heading into that one. They will need to win enough to nail down a bye before that. They were a terrible shooting team from three point range tonight. That was unusual. At this point, there is nothing to really worry about on that front, though. If it becomes a habit, there will be concerns, but so far it is not a trend.

Davidson 109, Samford 88

Key Stat: Wildcats 16 of 22 from three point range. The Wildcats were even hotter than that in the first half (11 of 13), but 16 of 22 for a game from long range is almost unheard of. That's amazing. The Wildcats hot shooting made it impossible for the Bulldogs. On a night the Bulldogs scored 88 points, they were really never that close in this one.

Player of the Game: Brian Sullivan. Sullivan could just about not miss in the first half. He wound up with 25 points and 7 of 10 from three point range. He had two rebounds four assists and two steals. Sullivan's hot shooting lead the Wildcats to 61 first half points, which basically put the game out of reach.

What It All Means: It is really hard to be critical of Davidson in a game where they score 109 points and win by 21 points on the road. But there has to be at least some concern that their defense again showed up so spotty. I'm not saying that they are a bad team by any means, but defense like that means that there is probably one more regular season loss ahead of them. Of course, the offensive output was unbelievable. They are something else. They are so good offensively, they will be tough to beat, even if they struggle defensively like they did tonight. The Bulldogs terrible defense continues to rear it's ugly head. It will be interesting to see how they show up defensively against Chattanooga on Saturday, a team that scored 90 against them earlier this year. The Bulldogs offense has to feel good, though. Scoring 88 points has to make Bulldog fans feel like they could be moving in the right direction. The offense was so good, behind Tim Williams. Samford still has a relatively easy schedule as they attack the bye. They play Chattanooga and Western Carolina at home. They go to Elon. They get Appalachian State twice and The Citadel once. If they can win their home games and beat Appalachian State and The Citadel, they will be in the bye race close to the end, I believe. This is still an interesting team. How they respond on Saturday will be huge.

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