Wofford 72, ETSU 64
Player of the Game: Lee Skinner scored thirteen points and had ten rebounds. He also came up with four assists. Skinner has stepped up his game recently and that has made a huge difference.
Stat of the Game: ETSU shots 3 of 16 from three point range, a measly 18.8%. For a team that likes to shoot a bunch of three pointers, that is simply not a good enough percentage. The Bucs need to shoot the ball better if they are expected to win.
What It All Means: The Bucs flipped the script, where they fall behind by a large amount and then try to come back. The Bucs have jumped out to leads and seen them slip away, but fought back from a 21 point deficit in this one. Now, with four conference losses, their chances of winning the SoCon are now incredibly thin, and truthfully, their chances of jumping into the top two or three are getting slimmer. Jaleny Riley did score 25, but Rashawn Rembert was held to just 2 points. Again, when that happens, ETSU is going to really struggle. The Terriers are now 7-1 in SoCon play and really looking good. They have played great basketball in their last three games since they lost to The Citadel. Now, they go to UNCG for their first road game since losing to the Bulldogs and host Mercer, who is 6-2 in SoCon play. This team is really hitting their stride right now. The defense has been pretty solid. The Terriers exploited the Bucs lack of size and dominated them on the boards. This was a solid performance.
VMI 85, The Citadel 75
Player of the Game: Julian Eleby scored 15 points with three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Eleby played 21 minutes. He contributed in every way. He did not make a bunch of shots, but he did make a bunch of free throws. Eleby had a pretty solid game all the way around.
Stat of the Game: VMI shot 43.1% from the floor and 35.7% from three point range. That is significantly better shooting than they had done in recent weeks. That is why the Keydets were able to win in this one. They simply shot the ball better than they have been, particularly early in the second half.
What It All Means: For The Citadel, this is two straight games they have had the pace dictated to them. Not ironically, this is two straight losses. They did very well in rebounding, but did not shoot well and the Keydets shot the ball better than they have lately. This was a really disappointing performance for the Bulldogs. They still are just one half game out of the sixth spot in the SoCon, so things are not all that bad. They go to Chattanooga next Saturday and then host Mercer the following Thursday. If they lose both of those, they will find themselves in a bigger hole in the SoCon race. For VMI, the Keydets wound up making it into the sixth spot with the win. They are 4-6 and technically tied with Furman, who is 3-5. In their last six games, VMI is 3-3, never winning more than one or losing more than one in a row during that six. Next Thursday, they host Western Carolina, and have Saturday off. This team still has four more games in a row at home. It is time to go on a streak. They have not been shooting the ball well, but finally did against the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon.
Chattanooga 81, UNCG 72
Player of the Game: Justin Tuoyo had 19 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. He made 10 of 15 from the free throw line. He made 4 of 6 from the floor. He had four offensive rebounds. He still has not had a SoCon game with less than three blocks.
Stat of the Game: UNCG 27 fouls, Chattanooga 18. That meant that Chattanooga shot 38 free throws and the Spartans just 13. That was the key difference in this contest. The Mocs went to the free throw a bunch more times than UNCG and that was critical in this contest.
What It All Means: The Spartans have as much talent as anyone in the SoCon and it showed for much of the night. They are a talented bunch that can play with anyone when they play well. Tevon Saddler is athletic, Kayel Locke is very good and Diante Baldwin is also good. The Spartans did not play a bad game. But they made just 53.8% of their free throws and committed too many fouls. The team just could not do enough to come up with the win in Chattanooga. They host Wofford and Western Carolina next week. The Spartans are 2-6 in SoCon play and in real danger of falling out of the race altogether if they can't steal one next week. The Mocs are still tied for the SoCon lead at 7-1. They did not play their best basketball and yet they still won. Can't complain about that if you are a Mocs fan. They go to Mercer next Thursday and host The Citadel on Saturday. Casey Jones did not play well, but Greg Pryor and Justin Tuoyo, along with Martynas Bareika and Eric Robertson stepping up. The Mocs did what they needed to so they could win, but the Mocs need to play even better if they want to win the regular season title.
Samford 78, Western Carolina 72
Player of the Game: Michael Bradley came up with a second straight double-double, going with 16 points and ten rebounds. He had six offensive boards. Is he finally developing into the type of player that the Bulldogs desperately need? He might be. If Bradley is really coming together, the Bulldogs are a much different team.
Stat of the Game: The Bulldogs made 26 or 28 from the free throw line, a shocking 92.9% from the line. That is really solid and in a six point game that is the sort of thing that can make all the difference.
What It All Means: The Catamounts followed up the win over Mercer with a loss at Samford. Western Carolina is 4-5 and in fifth in the SoCon right now. However, they are just one half game up on the seven spot. The Catamounts, who really do appear to be the fifth best team in the conference most of the time, has not been able to pull away for that spot. Of course, their schedule has been rough. James Sinclair played tremendous basketball. They outrebounded the Bulldogs, but committed a lot of turnovers and committed too many fouls. The Bulldogs have now won two in a row and are 2-8 in SoCon play and are closing in on getting out of last place. Of course, they are now down just two games from the final bye. There is a chance to get there for Samford. But they need to keep on playing solid basketball. Samford gets to host Furman next Saturday. Another win there would really put them in position to make a run. Michael Bradley had a second straight double-double. Darius Jones-Gibson was brilliant. Just like I said, once Samford wins one, they might run off several in a row. Here. They. Go.