Thursday, January 19, 2012

Falcons Post Road Win in Oxford

Well, just when things were looking like another average season for the Falcons, a little light showed up in the tunnel.  They might still end up with a pretty average season, but last night was also the kind of thing you can turn things around on.  You head to that game 1-2, and if you lose you're 1-3.  Now, you're 2-2 with the next two games at home, and you start to feel like you might be able to make a little run.  Now, obviously, you have to continue to produce consistently and that means putting a little winning streak together.

But everything looks and feels better after a road win.  BG had not won in a full decade in Miami, and Coach Orr (obviously) has never had a win.

It sounded to me like this was the kind of consistent, buzzer to buzzer effort BG has put together only a couple of times this year, and the first on the road.  It is only BG's second road win of the season, the other coming against Florida International, a team with a 4-13 record.

The initial 27 minutes of the game were very close, with the lead changing hands off and on and no team ever holding a lead of more than 4 points.  The game was tied at 38 with 13 left in the game, and BG made a 14-4 run over 5 minutes to take a 10 point lead.  Thomas and Crawford both had 5 points during the run.

From there, it was never a one-possession game again.  Miami did make everyone a bit nervous and got the lead to 5 with about a minute left, but they could get it no closer and BG made 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute and held Miami to 2 points to get the win.

BG's defense was probably the star of the day.   It sounded like BG played a mix of man to man and zone but mostly man to man, and it sounded like they were effective in man for the first time in quite a while.  It was played at Miami's pace (63 possessions) but BG held them to .9 points per possession, our third best road defense this year.  BG held Miami to 38% shooting in the 2nd half and 27% from 3, and that was truly the difference in the game.

On offense, BG tried only 8 3s, which must have made the bench happy.  Consequently, BG shot 50% and had an offensive efficiency of 1.03 PPP.  As I have mentioned before, if you can shoot 50% and take care of the ball, that is a nice combination, and BG had only 11 turnovers compared to 16 for Miami.  BG, in fact, had modest advantages in each of the four factors of the game.

I think the big story of the game was the big contributions from a few different Falcon players.  You have to start with Scott Thomas, who had 11 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 8 steals while shooting 5 of 8 from the field.  That, my friends, is a stat line to be proud of.

Then, Jordan Crawford chipped in 25 points on 10 of 13 shooting.  That's a career high, and incredibly valuable on a team that sometimes lacks scoring punch.

When those two guys have those kinds of games, BG is going to be tough to beat.

A'uston Calhoun had 13 and 6 rebounds and Dee Brown had 10.  Neither of those guys shot particularly well, but did come up with a couple key baskets as needed.  Finally, Cam Black played 25 points on a bad foot and blocked 3 shots.

(During Coach's presser this week, he said Black is starting to play with more confidence.  I think he contributes things that aren't in the stats, and he seemed to last night, and I also think he has the capacity to contribute stats too.  It will be interesting to see how he finishes the season.)

BG definitely tightened up the rotation, which we have seen Coach Orr do previously when the team needed a win. Black didn't start, but Thomas, Brown, Crawford and Calhoun each played at least 34 minutes.

Meanwhile, Mavunga had 17 points but he had to get there on 5 of 12 shooting, which means he actually used a lot of possessions for 17 points.  He also was held to 4 rebounds.  On Mavunga, a pretty good day for the Falcons.

So, BG produces a nice victory on the road, and comes home to play the Buffalo Bulls on Saturday afternoon.  It would be great to see the Falcons go on a little run here and string together some wins, which you can only do one game at a time.  We have seen this team play like this before, but consistency is the challenge.  Perhaps they felt a little challenged after the Kent defeat, and maybe they are willing to express a different identity to the league.

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