Thursday, February 27, 2014

SoCon Thursday Review

Davidson 79, UNCG 46

Key Stat: Davidson 13 of 27 from threes, UNCG 1 of 12. Holy cow. The Spartans could not make a three to save their lives. Davidson was knocking them down left and right. Davidson is a really good offensive team. They are so dangerous shooting the ball. This team, when they play defense, is very difficult to beat.

Player of the Game: Brian Sullivan. As has become my theory on this Wildcat team, Sullivan is the key to this team. He scored 19 points on 6 of 11 from the floor, including 5 of 8 from three point range. He also collected two rebounds, two assists and one steal. DeMon Brooks had a big night on Senior Night too. He was huge as well.

What It All Means: The Spartans were not just beaten- they were embarrassed. The Spartans have a real chance to wind up in the eight seed at this point in the SoCon Tournament. Of course, that's a disaster, as the Spartans don't want to see Davidson in the quarterfinals. Yikes. A loss by Samford or a win by UNCG would eliminate any chance of that. They can still get the six seed, but the chances look slim, since they close with Wofford. Davidson wrapped up the number one seed in the SoCon Tournament. Now, they get to go seek out revenge for their lone SoCon loss, when they go to Elon. Will this Davidson team playing this hard show up on Saturday night? I think they will since they are looking for revenge. Davidson has held two straight opponents under 50. I've been saying that they are a good defensive team at home, but struggling at defense away from home. We'll see how they play at Elon.

Wofford 63, Elon 59

Key Stat: Elon 3 of 10 from three point range. The Terriers also knocked down seven threes, while the Phoenix only knocked down three. That was the major difference in this one as well. The Terriers played superb defense. They did not play well on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense was very good.

Player of the Game: Karl Cochran. Cochran scored 20 points and collected seven rebounds. Cochran made 7 of 17 from the floor and 6 of 12 from three point range. Cochran's play was impressive and helped the Terriers on the offensive end. He was basically back to the good Cochran after the Davidson game.

What It All Means: Wofford came up with a critical win to finally prove to me that they are for real. That's their second win over a team receiving a bye, and that is the reason that the Terriers win was so important. They really proved how dangerous they can be tonight. I still have concerns because their offense looked mediocre for the second straight game, but this defense is very good and can help them go a long way in Asheville. They have a shot at the two seed. They also could still fall to the fourth seed. The Phoenix did not play particulalry well in this one with so much on the line. That was a lousy way to head into the Davidson game on Saturday night. What happens in Asheville with this team? I'm just not sure. It's too difficult to figure out. This is one tough team to figure out as they head into the SoCon Tournament.

Chattanooga 83, Western Carolina 81 (OT)

Key Stat: Mocs 29 of 38 from the free throw line. Prior to the game, in the preview, I said the Mocs needed to get to the free throw line a lot more than the Catamounts. They went to the line sixteen more times and knocked down fourteen more. They made 76.3% of their free throws, and that was the difference in the game.

Player of the Game: Casey Jones. Jones scored 19 points with seven rebounds and three blocks. He shot 7 of 13 from the field. He made 5 of 5 from the charity stripe. There were specific plays run for Jones and he was converting. He deserves player of the game. Special props to Martynas Bareika, who knocked down a three to tie up the game and also broke up a breakaway basket for the Catamounts that could have been a huge difference in the game.

What It All Means: The Mocs came up with a stunning road win in Cullowhee. It was unexpected, but shows that the Mocs may be back on the right track as they head to Asheville. All they need is to beat Appalachian State on Saturday night and the Mocs will get the two seed. This is a team that when they bring the effort and energy and knock down a few shots can beat anyone in the SoCon. When they don't knock down a few shots or don't bring their best effort and energy, they can lose to anyone in the SoCon. This is another tough team to figure out. The Catamounts continue to fade a bit down the stretch. This was just their second home loss on the year. Western Carolina showed the effort and energy but could not close the deal. I think this team is dangerous in Asheville because of how they have played there in the past, but something seems to be missing from this club. Maybe they are just saving up for the Asheville run. Maybe there is something legitimately wrong. We'll see how they respond on Saturday at Samford. They have locked up the five seed.

Georgia Southern 82, Furman 73

Key Stat: Georgia Southern 31 rebounds, Furman 23. If you are going to beat Georgia Southern, you need to beat them on the boards. Furman did not come close to doing that, and the Eagles came up with the relatively easy road win because of it. They collected ten offensive rebounds as well. That was a big difference in this one, particulalry since the Eagles weren't missing much, shooting well over 50% from the floor.

Player of the Game: Jelani Hewitt. Hewitt poured in 22 points and came up with four steals. Hewitt only made 6 of 14 from the field. He made 3 of 5 from downtown and 7 of 9 from the charity stripe. Hewitt was very good in this one.

What It All Means: The Eagles played one of their best offensive performances in a while. They looked very good on that side. When this team is shooting well, they are really good. They just don't have the big guys in the middle to make the difference and win several games in Asheville. But they will be a tough out for any team that plays them. Furman showed some big flaws in this one. They were beaten at home in a game that the Paladins could have expected to win. I still think this is a dangerous team in Asheville. They are locked in to the ten seed and will play one of four teams on Friday at about 1:30. That may be the best game in the first round. That was Furman's last SoCon game of the regular season.

Appalachian State 63, Samford 57

Key Stat: Samford 25 turnovers. What? How in the world do you commit 25 turnovers? The Mountaineers turned it over 15 times, but the Bulldogs turned it over 25 times. That is absolutely unacceptable for a Bulldog team that has been pretty good on offense this year. The Bulldogs are stumbling down the stretch again, it appears.

Player of the Game: Tommy Spagnolo. Spagnolo scored 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting. He came up with ten rebounds. He had two blocks and two steals as well. Spagnolo has turned into the best Mountaineers player. He can be a force in Asheville.

What It All Means: The Mountaineers went on the road and came up with a really nice win. The win keeps alive their hopes of getting up to the seven seed, which would be huge, because they do not want to be in the 8-9 game, where the winner would play Davidson in the quarters. This team can be dangerous in Asheville, potentially. Spagnolo is turning into a really good player. The Bulldogs simply can't take any positive things to happen to them. The loss to The Citadel could have served as a wake up call. It did not. It was a bad night to be a Bulldog. Can the Bulldogs turn around and beat Western Carolina on Saturday night?

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