Friday, February 20, 2015

SoCon Reviews: February 19

Chattanooga 74, Mercer 61

Player of the Game: Greg Pryor poured in sixteen points with seven rebounds and seven assists. That's solid all-around play from one of the SoCon's most underrated players. He made 3 of 6 from the floor and 2 of 4 from three point range and made 8 of 8 from the free throw line.

Stat of the Game: Chattanooga had 31 points off the bench while Mercer had just seven. Mercer's bench played 53 minutes to the Mocs 71, so that certainly contributed to the difference, but was not the sole difference. The Mocs bench is becoming one of the best weapons late in the season.

What It All Means: The Bears found themselves up double digits early, but could not hold on. Now, they will be hard pressed to finish second, needing to win out and have the Mocs lose out. Of course, coming up on the Bears from behind is Western Carolina, who swept them and owns the tiebreaker. They are up two games on the Catamounts, but need to survive. They go to Samford on Saturday, then host Wofford and ETSU. This is not an easy closing stretch, like we've been saying all along. They scored just seven points off their bench. They did not shoot the ball well and were beaten badly on the boards by Chattanooga for the second time this year. The Mocs played a great second half, particularly the second half of the second half. Duke Ethridge continues  to show vast improvement, and came up with five blocks, while Tuoyo came up with three. This team is a good defensive team that gets even better because of all their blocked shots. They have a lot of offensive weapons and when Casey Jones only scores six (like he did on Thursday, mainly because of foul trouble), Rico White, Tuoyo, Eric Robertson, Pryor and even Ethridge have turned into pretty solid scorers. The Mocs host ETSU on Saturday and go to VMI and UNCG next week. If they beat ETSU, they clinch no worse than the two seed.

The Citadel 62, Furman 56 (OT)

Player of the Game: Ashton Moore scored 20 points, had seven rebounds and six assists on 7 of 13 shooting from the floor, including 2 of 4 from three point range. He also had three steals. Moore continues to be the Bulldogs best scoring threat.

Stat of the Game: The Citadel shot an astounding 56.8% from the floor, while the Paladins shot just 37.7% from the floor. The Bulldogs have the league's worst defense, so being able to hold the Paladins to that poor of shooting was absolutely the key to the game.

What It All Means: Oh, those Paladins! This is the loss that is devastating, in more ways than one. Stephen Croone was injured in the closing moments. If Croone is out, this team is really going to struggle. On top of that, the Paladins loss throws them into  real danger of finishing in last place. They go to UNCG and then host Western Carolina and Wofford. In other words, they won't be favored in any of their remaining games. Things are kind of coming undone for this club that looked like it was going to contend for the final bye just a few weeks ago. Now, that dream is pretty much over. The Citadel is now 5-10 and right in the thick of the final bye race, down by one game to VMI and the tiebreaker. Still, the Bulldogs have a chance. But the chances are not good- they go to Wofford, host ETSU and Western Carolina down the stretch. They have to get a minimum of two wins and hope VMI loses three times to get the final bye. That is tough given their schedule. Of course, a three way tie with Samford would be to their advantage because of the win over Wofford that keeps on giving. The Bulldogs defense was significantly better in this one, which is the main reason that they came up with the overtime upset. If the defense keeps on playing like that, they will have a shot to win some games down the stretch.

Wofford 77, UNCG 62

Player of the Game: Karl Cochran scored 18 points and had five rebounds. He made 7 of 14 from the floor 4 of 6 from three point range. It was another very solid all around performance by the Terriers best player.

Stat of the Game:  The Terriers knocked down 23 of 29 free throws. All those free throws and all that foul trouble from the Spartans helped give the Terriers the ability to come back from ten points down to win in the second half.

What It All Means: The Spartans played a near flawless first half, but followed that up with a flawed second half. Still, UNCG was up ten points at halftime on the top team in the conference on the road. There is no doubt this team has improved drastically from just a few weeks ago. This team may be in last now, but actually has a real shot at the bye- they swept VMI, have split with The Citadel and a chance to split with Samford, the three teams actually ahead of them in the standings. The schedule is not bad- Furman, Samford and Chattanooga all at home. Don't be surprised if next Saturday we are talking about this team earning a bye. The Terriers are in first place, but nearly saw their whole lead evaporate with a loss here. Still, the Terriers need to win two out of three to win the conference down the stretch, and with a home date with The Citadel, and road dates at Mercer and Furman, they should get there. But who knows with this team? They have proven consistently that you never know which team is going to show up for any length of time. This game was a microcosm of that, as they fell behind by 10 only to win the  second half by 25 (though a lot of that was aided by free throws at the end). The Terriers did a nice job in this one, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

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