Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Evansville Exceeds BG

BG went to Evansville and actually played a pretty solid game, losing by 3 only when a game-tying 3 rimmed out at the buzzer. The Falcons stayed with the Purple Aces the whole way, put sustained pressure on them throughout the second half and could easily have won the game. They did not, falling to 3-6 on the season. It was a good bounce back, however, from the Cincy game. Three of the next four games are against teams in the sub-300 rankings of kenpom and are at home, so the Falcons have a chance to shore that record up a bit before heading into conference play.

The first half was not good to the Falcons. Eight minutes in, Evansville was up 8. BG got it down to 3 with about 5 minutes left, but then gave up a 12-4 run to go down 11 inside of 22 minutes and trailed by 9 at the half. Things did not look good at that point.

The first four minutes of the 2nd half were amazing. Evansville was called for 6 fouls...WOW...and were outscored 11-2 and BG had tied the game going into the first timeout. EU went back up by 7, but BG got it back to 1 and the last 8 minutes were very competitive.

BG tied the game at 58 with 2:46 left. They got a stop on the next possession and had a real chance to set the tone for the stretch run, but turned the ball over and gave up an and-one on the run out, and they were down 3. With 1:26 left, they were still only down 4, but had another turnover and went down 6 on the resulting free throws. BG made 2 3FGs and was fouled on another one (making 2 of the Fts) to get the game back to 2 with :09 left. Evansville split a pair of FTs, Lillard grabbed the miss and got down the court and had a 3 go in and out in what would have been a game-tying effort.

Coach Huger said after the game that turnovers at key times put the Falcons into a losing position after playing a pretty good half.  BG just has to execute those possessions better to be a winning team...this is what we consistently see teams like Akron do against those exact possessions.

It was a slow-paced game at 65 possessions.  That's almost exactly what the UC game was and those are BG's only games under 70--the national average--this season.  So, Evansville had 1.06 points per possession and BG 1.02.  It is BG's only loss so far this year while being over 1 point per possession.  BG shot the ball reasonably...that EFG is about the national average...but struggled with turnovers.  Nobody had any offensive rebounds, and the game was ridiculous with FTs.  BG was 21-31 and Evansville was 19-26.  Two players--Wiggins and Jaylon Brown--shot 28 FTs between them.  BG ended up +2 on FTs due to late game fouling..for much of the game they had a big advantage...since they were in the bonus for almost the entire second half.

Demajeo Wiggins is doing a great job for BG.  He had a double-double, scoring 18 (5 of 9 shooting) to go with 12 rebounds.  His confidence at the line...he was 8 of 13 but is shooting more than double what he did last him permission to make power moves in the paint, knowing if he gets fouled he can convert at the line.  It will help BG a lot.

Denny added 11 on 5 of 12 shooting and 6 rebounds.  Rodrick Caldwell is also improving quickly, he had 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting including a key 3FG in the last minute.  He did that in only 17 minutes and had 5 points in the last minute.

Lillard also had a bounceback game, with 9 on 4 of 6 shooting and 4 boards.  Ali had 6 assists over 4 turnovers.

Ish Ali, FWIW, is #20 in the country in assists per game and #136 in A/TO ratio, which is 2.2 and pretty good.

When you look at the rotation, I think it is interesting.  Coach said before the year he didn't want people playing more than 30 minutes, but the injuries to Uju and Turner have stretched that.  Wiggins and Denny both played over 30 minutes.  Despite having a shortage of bigs, Worrell played only 7 minutes and committed 3 fouls.  For that matter, Lillard played only 22, but was prominent at the end.

Next up is Detroit, a very winnable game for the Falcons at home.  Let's hope that BG can convert this good effort into a win.  We are a very young team and we just aren't making the plays that winning teams make in key situations and we aren't sustaining long periods of good play. This was a winnable road game that got by.  We watch for signs of further improvement.

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