BG entered the 2nd half of the Norfolk State game with a 6 point lead and its normal starting line up on the court....Ali, Denny, Lillard, Alcegaire and Wiggins. Things did not go well. In 5:20, BG had been outscored 22-9 and now trailed by 7. That's 22 points allowed in 5 minutes.
So, Coach Huger made a move he has made one other time. He pulled his starters and put his freshmen in. Specifically, Frye, Caldwell and Turner came in and Denny, Ali and Lillard came out. As Coach Huger said, what BG got was energy out of the young guys and they are going to make mistakes, but you can't win without energy and effort. "You gotta defend in order to play," he said.
None of the three older players were in the game much for the remainder of the game. Huger: "the underclassmen have to pick it up or you are going to see a lot more of the freshmen."
Well then. I'd recommend taking a listen to the Huger presser. It was pretty interesting. He is very passionate. "It drives me crazy," he said, when discussing his team's lack of defensive energy. This is understandable, especially since, as he says, we are going to be the underdogs in every game we play for a while, including at Akron on Tuesday.
BG had the lead down to 1 in about 3 minutes, but did not finally tie the game until there were about 8 minutes left in the game. At that point, BG was on an 18-5 run that left them up 10 with 3:16 left. From there BG sailed home, leading by as much as 14 and finally locking up another game that they could expect to win but was in doubt into the second half. BG won 86-77.
It was a 73 possession game. BG had 1.18 points per possession, which is their best offensive game of the season. Norfolk had 1.06 points per possession...and remember, this is a team that has struggled to score.
BG had their best shooting game of the year. In fact, you'd have to go back to the SEMO game early last year for a D1 game where BG shot better. BG shot 52% overall, but more importantly, 53% on 3FGs. That's 8 of 14 from 3 FGs. That's BG's second game over 50% from 3FG this year. Anyway, the Falcons combined that with really solid ball handling to put together the strong offensive game. Oh, well, one other thing. BG shot a ridiculous amount of FTs. They shot 40--their highest free throw rate since the '14 WKU game. They made 70%, which is average and perfectly acceptable. BG was +13 at the line.
On defense, the picture was not as good. Norfolk State shot 47% from 3FG and 47% overall, which is still pretty good. They also took good care of the ball and tried more 3s overall.
Neither team did any offensive rebounding.
BG's top overall player was probably Demajeo Wiggins, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 3 of 6 from the field and 9-10 from the line, continuing an already remarkable FT improvement. Wes Alcegaire, who it should be noted was the one upperclassmen not included in the second half troubles, scored 17 points on 5/9 and 2 of 4 shooting to go with 6 rebounds. Could have had more but was 5 of 10 from the line.
Rodrick Caldwell continued to improve, with 13 points, 4 assists and 0 turnovers in 20 minutes. He shot 4 of 7. Perhaps the biggest addition is Justin Turner, who had 10 on 3 of 6 shooting in 24 minutes. He makes the team better with his presence and it is good to see him in there.
Lillard actually had 9 points on 4 of 5 shooting 4 assists and only 1 turnover in 19 minutes.
Coach said that the lineup isn't going to change for Akron. But, playing time is going to need to be earned. If nothing else, for the future of the program, it is good to see the young players thriving as the programs looks to build and get stronger.
One note. Rasheed Worrell played only 10 minutes. Don't know if he is healthy or not, but he made 28 starts last year and isn't seeing much playing time on a small team.
So, on to MAC play. BG is 6-7. They start @Akron, probably the toughest assignment in the MAC.