Sunday, December 28, 2014

Falcons Rebound With Road Win Over South Florida

So, after a defeat to Ferris State that Coach Jans said would put a "damper" on his Christmas, I had a feeling we are building the kind of program where we are most dangerous after a loss.  Hopefully now Coach Jans can have a better New the Falcons went down to Tampa and beat South Florida for a nice bounceback win.

 This gives BG 3 true road wins for the first time since the 09-10 season, which was Orr's third season.  I think it is important to keep this all in perspective...none of the 3 have been against great teams, but each of them represents the program's progress since last year.  USF beat BG by double digits last season in the Stroh and BG flipped the game this year.  Conference play is still going to present a lot of challenges, but the important thing is that this team is much improved over last season and the road wins are an important indicator, as is the 7-3 record.

It was a tightly fought game the entire way.  The first half featured some back to back play, with both teams leading by 4 points and the game was tied with 1:23 left in the first half and then USF got 3 points coming home to lead at the half.

The second half started out the same way.  With 15 left to play the game was tied at 43.  Spencer Parker made a couple FTs to put BG up 2---and odd as it might seen, it was a lead that BG would hold for the remainder of the game.

BG went on a 8-1 run to open a 7-point lead.  Inside of 9 minutes, BG was up 58-53 and USF rallied to cut the lead to 1.  For a few minutes the game stayed at one possession, and then BG went on a 7-0 to go up 9 with 3:21 left.  BG did what a winning team does from there, which is close it out, never letting USF back inside 5 and winning by 9.

BG had its best offensive game of the season, at 1.31 points per possession.  BG shot 50% overall and 41% from beyond the arc, both of which are very solid numbers.  We talked in the preview about USF giving up a bunch of FTs and this was a very foul-plagued game.  BG shot 28 free throws and shot very relatively poorly, but still had a +2 advantage on FTs.  The game's big difference came on 3s.  We also noted that USF is a very poor 3FG team,  and BG made 9 3FGs to only 4 for USF, which was decisive in the game.

In fact, as you can see below, the remaining factors were pretty even.

If you want something to worry about, it was BG's 2nd straight poor defensive performance.  Until Ferris, BG had not allowed 1 point per possession to any team, and now two teams in a row have gotten there, and it wasn't close---both at 1.17 per possession.  USF had an EFG% of 54% and had by far the best game against BG on the offensive boards while taking pretty good care of the ball.

Richaun Holmes continues to be BG's most productive player.  He scored 19 on 6 of 9 shooting and 7 of 11 at the line, plus 9 rebounds and 4 blocks.  BG's second leading scorer was Jehvon Clarke, and he is slowly emerging as being a critical element for BG, off the bench and at the 2.  Clarke had 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting and 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.  That's an incredibly efficient use of possessions.  Austin scored 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting and Zach Denny scored 10 points on 3 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc.

That's an impressive collection of players playing very efficient offensive basketball, just what the team needed in a game where the defensive element was lacking.

BG's rotation has gotten tighter.  BG played 8 guys with 19 minutes or more.  From early in the year, you've lost Orr and Tisdale was a DNP.  Mayleben played only a couple of minutes due to foul trouble.

At 7-3, BG now has one last game left before the MAC season starts....Chicago State, coming up Saturday.  In the meantime, while conceding that USF is not likely to make a Sweet 16 run this year, this was still a very nice road win for BG, especially coming off the Ferris loss.  Continuing to enjoy the season and look forward to seeing how BG does in MAC play.

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