And down the stretch they come...coming off BG's worst loss of the season and among the worst in conference in a few years, the Falcons need to summon up some motivation to play the last two games of the season, both of which will be difficult and teams that are playing for position in the tournament. Coach Huger was critical of the effort put forth by the Falcons at Akron, so I am going to assume he will have that corrected.
Whether it is enough to generate a win on Super Tuesday at Kent is another question.
Kent 6-1 and then 3 and 6...That coincides exactly with the loss of Xavier Pollard, before and after. In a conference this evenly matched, there's no margin for error...WMU is a similar example. (Kent was also missing their #4 scorer, Jaylin Walker over most of that time. He returned for the Miami game on Saturday).
Kent is 12-2 at home.
The Flashes beat BG 62-59 at the Stroh during the Xavier Pollard Era. As noted by the score, the game was pretty evenly matched. The difference was offensive rebounding, where Kent had a level of dominance that is rare. That and a couple BG turnovers were the difference. Oh, and Kent had Jimmy Hall and BG had absolutely no answer for him. He had 26 points on 11 of 25 shooting and 16 rebounds with 9 offensive rebounds. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that no one else has tried 25 FGAs on us and I'm even more sure that no one else has 9 O-REB against us.
So, looking at overall efficiency, Kent and BG are equal on defense, and both of those numbers rank at the bottom of the MAC. The spread is on offense, where Kent is about MAC average (8th) while BG is 11th in offense. There aren't any big surprises...BG is in 11th and has the stats of an 11th place team. Kent is used to playing an average MAC pace (8th).
Kent's average offense is mostly just average across the board. They are 8th in the MAC in EFG%,
turnover % and 6th in getting to the line. They are, however #1 in offensive rebounding, which is what we saw at the Stroh. They are 10th in 3FG%, 8th in 2FG% and 9th in FT%. They are not focused on the 3FG...the only team in the MAC that attempts a lower % of 3s is BG. In BG, they relied heavily on Jimmy Hall, as noted. BG seemed to play better inside defense against Akron and this will be a good test for Wiggins and Worrell to keep Hall from taking over the game. BG needs to get missed shots--which clearly can be done--but then has to focus on closing the door with the rebound. Last time, BG did only the first half of that equation.
Flipping it around, Kent is only 7th at defending the shot, 9th at forcing turnovers and 9th at preventing offensive rebounds. They are 3rd at keeping teams off the line. Nobody shot well in the first meeting, but there is a little room for BG to get well against the average Kent defense. Kent's ability not to foul is not such as big deal, given that BG is last in FT%.
Individually, we have talked about Jimmy Hall, is a Junior and scoring 17PPG on 47% shooting to go with 8.3 RPG. Kellon Thomas is 2nd in scoring (with Polalrd out) with 11.6 PPG, but he gets them very inefficiently at 32% FG shooting. Khaliq Spencer is always dangerous. He's only scoring 7.6 PPG but he shoots over 60% and gets 6.6 RPG and presents a possible matchup issue for the Falcons. Their #4 scorer is FR Jaylin Walker, who, as mentioned, was injured and came back with a 20-point game in the loss against the RedHawks, from which Coach Senderhoff was ejected.
Even with Kent being an average team, this game is going to be difficult on their floor. BG has shown the capacity to surprise, After a good road showing early in MAC play, BG has lost 5 straight on the road and, of course, 10 out of the last 12.