So how did it happen? How did BG end up with the win over the Rockets in Saturday's thriller?
Well, the first thing you can see is that BG shot the ball very well. That's their best shooting in a Division I game since 2012. That's better than they shot this year against Alabama A&M (the worst team in D1 basketball), Norfolk State, Morgan State....you get the idea.
Our preview had noted that UT is a poor defensive team but cast doubt on whether BG had the horsepower to exploit it. Turns out we did.
BG shot 59% overall and 75% from 3FG. Perhaps the key to the whole thing was that BG tried on 12 3FGs in 50 minutes. They committed to getting to the rim and it worked. BG made 55% of their 2FGs. (The Falcons were also 8 of 10 shooting in the overtime periods).
It's a good thing. Because the Rockets also shot the lights out, making 51% of their 2FGs and 50% of their 3FGs...and they tried 28 3FGs. (The shooting defense for BG is an ongoing concern. BG has allowed over 65% EFG% in its last three games and in 6 of their 10 MAC games.)
Overall, BG had 1.28 points per possession and UT had 1.23. As you can see below, BG took better care of the ball, with a +5 advantage in turnovers. And BG took advantage at the line. BG was 21 of 32 at the line and UT was 14 out of 24, most of which came from Stevie Taylor, who was only 4 of 11 from the line.,.the Falcons appeared to be using a Hack-a-Taylor strategy, which was good, because it was the only thing that slowed that guy down.
On the individual side, BG had 2 seniors who played career games.
Zack Denny had 30 points on 8 of 11 shooting, 5 of 5 from 3FG and 8 of 11 from the line to go with 7 rebounds and six freaking steals. Here's the thing. He's really been struggling from 3FG. He only had 4 3FGs in his last 5 games and was 4-24 over that stretch. So he had been cold. He's never made 5 3FGs in his BG career, much less make all 5. Beyond that, he made them when BG had to have them, to tie the game in the first overtime and two in the final minutes of the second overtime plus two vital FTs. He scored BG's last 10 points of the game. That's rising to the occasion.
Wes Alcegaire also had a big night. He scored 22 points on 8 of 11 shooting and 2-2 from 3FG to go with 5 rebounds. He had three straight baskets in the first overtime to bring BG back from the dead when they trailed by 7 with 90 seconds left.
Demajeo Wiggins had 16 points and 7 rebounds on 8 of 13 shooting. He really struggled in the first half--both defending Taylor and making shots. He had 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting in the second half in 15 minutes.
Antwon Lillard had 12 on 4 of 8 shooting in his best game in over a month. Finally, not to be forgotten, Ish Ali had 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting and 7 assists and 1 turnover...that one at the end of regulation.
A couple line up notes. BG started their "suspension" starting line up, but in OT it was Wiggins, Alcegaire, Denny and Ali who played all 10 minutes.
Another key might have been BG's deep rotation. No starter for UT played less than 44 minutes. No one for BG played more than than 42. The UT starters played 231 of the game's 250 minutes. You have to believe that had an impact on those final possessions.
Anyway, that's the story in two posts. BG and UT are both 4-6 in MAC play. If the season ended today, they would both be on the road for the MAC tournament, though the middle is bunched up. (Note, no tiebreakers applied).
This is BG's first back-to-back MAC win this year. Next week is tough...@Kent and a red-hot Buffalo team at home the next Saturday. BG's got to get the defensive side sorted out to get consistent wins, but for now, this is one to savor.