Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rockets Close Falcons Out

It was a close and competitive game--and one that unfolded without significant contribution from JD Weatherspoon.  Juice Brown was magnificent and the difference in the game for UT, which won its fourth straight against the Falcons.

That was a tough assignment.  The Rockets are better than their record, it was a huge crowd and UT absolutely had to have that win.  They were going to be tough to beat last night, and they were.

To the Falcon Nation, though, I recommend a little perspective.  UT was in the lowest possible depths just a few years ago, and look where they were last year.  BG was never that low, but the program certainly appears to be on the right track, last night notwithstanding.  Some epic BG/UT games are coming.

BG is now 12-5 and 4-2 and all the goals remain in front of them.

It was a highly competitive game.  There were 17 lead changes and BG led for over 11 minutes.  Neither team led by more than 7 points at any time.  Most of those lead changes came in the first half, though.  BG led at the half but UT came out on fire and had a five point lead by the first media timeout.  BG led for one possession with about 10 minutes left but UT led for the remainder of the half.

Even so, BG had late opportunities to steal the game.  BG had a chance to tie the game with 1:54 left but missed a FT, gave up a layup (now down 3) and then BG turned the ball over with 1:21 left in what was a crucial mistake.  Then, BG got a turnover on its end and Denny had an open shot to tie it and he missed the 3FG and then Brown hit 5 out of 6 FTs on the way home and they closed the door on the Falcons.

All you can ask for is a chance to tie the game that late, and BG didn't convert those chances, and that meant a Rocket win, but BG earned those shots.  Next time, they go in.

UT did come under their normal offensive performance--noting that Weatherspoon only played 20 minutes due to fouls and had 1 point.  UT scored 1.02 points per possession, which was well below their normal average.  BG, unfortunately, was also below their normal scoring as well, at .96 points per possession.  The stats below are for the entire game--as you can see, it is about as evenly matched as you might have expected.

BG outperformed UT in field goals.  The biggest difference was free throws.  UT got to the line 25 times and made 17, while BG was only at the line 16 times and only made 8.  That 9 point differential was decisive.

The second half stats also tell a better story.  UT shot 54% in the second half to BG's 39%.  The Rockets had a blistering 1.2 points per possession in the second half.

One key thing is that BG did defend the 3FG well, holding a normally very accurate UT team to 4 of 16 for the game.

Individually, the story of the game was Juice Brown.  He scored 28 points on 8 of 15 and 3 of 6 shooting and 9 of 10 at the line.  He was held to 2 assists, but Brown was clearly the difference.  He's a very good player and I am sure everyone outside Savage Arena will be glad to see him take his talents elsewhere.  Justin Drummond added 18 points and 9 rebounds, with 8 of 14 shooting and Nathan Boothe had 12 points on 4 of 9 shooting and 4 blocked shots.

For BG, Richaun Holmes battled foul trouble and never seemed to get into the flow of the game, which is why I was surprised to see him with 14 points in 26 minutes on 6-11 shooting.    He also had 6 rebounds.  Jovan Austin scored 13 points on 5 of 9 shooting and had 5 assists, but also 6 turnovers.  Jehvon Clarke had 12 points on 4 of 8 and 3 of 4 shooting.  Spencer Parker had 8 points and 6 rebounds.

Beyond those guys, BG struggled to shoot, most notably at guard.  Denny did have 9 rebounds.

So, on we go.  BG moves on to play at home against NIU on Tuesday and then a rematch with the Zips--also at home--on Saturday.  Similar to the Akron loss, BG needs to not let one loss turn into a losing streak.  Lots of teams are going to lose at Savage from here on in, and BG needs to protect home floor.  A 2-0 week puts things right back on kilter.

No comments :