Saturday, December 08, 2012

Falcons Beat Samford after 1st half struggles

It was one of those days today at the Stroh Center.  BG played a dreadful first half against a soft opponent and then rallied with a very strong second half, ending with a 57-42 win over Samford that was probably as comfortable as it should have been on paper.

The first half was just painful to watch.  BG had no motion on offense and normally just dribbled away the shot clock, provided Crawford a ball screen and then watched him drive into the key and miss a shot--he was 0-9 in the first half.  BG shot 29.6% for the first half with 0-5 from 3 point land.  BG had only 17 points in the first half...meanwhile, the Bulldogs shot 52%.  They had 6 turnovers but mostly the game's glacial pace kept them from being able to exploit shooting borderline twice as good as BG did. They led 27-17 at the half.

BG came out with more active pressure, something which last year actually woke BG up from some of these slumbers.  It didn't start out great at Samford shredded the press for an easy layup :16 in and they were up 12.  BG started to score, getting baskets on its first four possessions and the stops started to come and BG slowly whittled the lead down.

The Falcons took their first lead of the game when Jordon Crawford hit a 3 with 11:45 left in the game.  BG led 36-35 at that point.

From there, something pretty remarkable happened.  For the next almost 9 minutes, BG outscored Samford 19-1.  Obviously, that's almost a quarter of the game where they were held without a FG and where BG scored effectively, especially given the pace the game was played at.  Samford did not score until there were less than 2 minutes left and the game was over.

I think the pressure really did help to get some energy back in BG's game and then when BG started to make some baskets that helped to get things going to.  Coach talked about this after the can say all you want that your shooting % shouldn't determine your winning % (which he has actually not said in a long time), but it is hard to play motivated basketball when there's a lid over your basket.

So, BG had a bad first half and Samford had a worse second half.  BG outscored the Bulldogs 40-15 to secure the win.

I may have mentioned the pace the game was played at.  There were 53 possessions in the game, which is against a normal D1 average of around 67.  In fact, according to it was one of the slowest games so far this season...the low is 50 possessions.

BG shot 48% for the second half and 40% from 3...while Samford shot 27% and 1-8 from 3.

When you look at stats, you have to keep this in mind.  It magnifies everything.

For example, despite scoring only 57 points, that actually equals out to 1.08 points per possession, which is a productive offensive day.  When your opponent only gets .79 points per possession, that's how you win by 15.

For the game, the two teams shot about the same.  However, BG had a big advantage in terms of handling the ball (8 turnovers) on the boads and getting to the free throw line.  Beyond that, they only shot 55% from the line and BG shot 88% which is their second straight game with great FT shooting.

Individually, as with their winning games so far, BG got a lot of contributions from different guys.  Crawford ended up with 14 points, 5 assists and no turnover, but that was balanced on top 4-17 shooting, so it was a long way to get there.  Calhoun had 12 points and 8 rebounds due to 28 minutes (foul trouble) and 5-9 shooting.  Chauncey Orr had 11 points and 4 rebounds, the scoring a career high.

Richaun Holmes had 7 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks in 19 minutes.  Honestly, I can't imagine how he doesn't get more minutes.  He's very effective on both ends of the floor.

Now for the players who contributed a little.  Luke Kraus had 6 points on 2-3 shooting.  Cam Black didn't score big points but he was outstanding down the stretch on defense, playing outstanding help defense.  He's never going to generate big numbers, but he was effective against Samford.  I remember one specific possession where he stopped 3 drives to the basket and BG ended up with a stop.

James Erger also had a nice game.  He hit a 3, but made a number of nice plays on loose balls and had 3 assists as well in 15 minutes.

And that adds up to a 5th Falcon win....over a team they were 9.5 point favorites over.

Winning is always better.  A lot of people will wonder how a performance like this projects to a game against, for example, Akron or Ohio or EMU.  I would worry about that, too.  Again, we're happy for the win but I think the team has a ways to go.

Coach said after the game that the Falcons actually guard the ball better than they did last year.  He credits Kraus and Chauncey Orr for that.  I'll have something Sunday on what might be emerging as this team's identity.

Anthony Henderson sprained his ankle during the game and has an uncertain prognosis.  Jehvon Clarke did not play today but is relatively close.  With the long break, you'd hope to have one or the other back for MSU.

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