I'll have more later, but BG avenged their heartbreaking loss in Savannah last year with a 59-51 victory at Anderson Arena.
In the post-game presser, Coach Orr called it a "step in the right direction" and I suppose it was. He said that because with just under 4:00 left, the Tigers were up by 1 point. From that point in, BG outscored them 11-2...."closing the game out" as Coach said.
The key basket came with with 2:29 left. Tracy Rankins, the leading SSUM scorer had been unconscious from behind the arc for most of the game (single handedly keeping the Tigers in the game), and he lined up to shoot with his team down one. Scott Thomas blocked the shot, a huge defensive play, and then on the other end, in the half court offense, things just didn't seem to be happening, and Joe Jakubowski created something off the dribble, sweeping down the left side of the key and getting the ball onto the glass and in the hoop.
That's a pretty nice swing right there. Then, BG got a stop on a missed 3, and came down the floor. We fed Otis on the inside, he drew coverage and kicked it to Jakubowski who nailed a 3. From there BG was in pretty good shape.
Otis had 3 assists and no turnovers. Yep.
Defensively, BG held SSUM to 51 points, which is below their season average. We played zone the whole way, I believe, and sometimes it seemed like we had some real success with it, and sometimes the Tigers were finding pretty good shots. We seem willing to allow the penetration pass to the elbow, because whoever shoots is going to have to get around or over Otis.
The stops coming home were key, and in addition to the block, Scott Thomas had a key steal as well.
As you can see here, it was a close and pretty tense game the whole way.
BG attempted only 7 3s in the whole game, which is pretty rare, even for our team. Conversely, Savannah was 5-7 from beyond the arc in the first half and 2-12 in the second half.
Offensively, BG only turned the ball over 11 times, and had clearly prepared themselves to handle the press and it generally wasn't an issue. The team is still struggling for a lack of perimeter shooting, and some of our shooters are slumping, but as long as they keep shooting (and they are), it will come around.
That's going to help a lot. Coach keeps saying we are a work in progress, and that's certainly true. The offense just struggles to get good shots for long periods of time, and then when we do get the ball inside, we have a hard time converting the short shots. Our starting bigs were 6-18 from the field, for example. The free throw shooting continues to be sub par (55% tonight). The team clearly has some areas of improvement.
They now go on a run of 5 straight road games, which is a great opportunity for us to both grow as a team and get ready for conference play. It will be a grind, though, no question about it.