Sunday, January 06, 2019

BG MBB Changes Conversation

One night in Kent, and it's a whole new way of looking at the season.  Of all the things I expected to see, I did not expect to see what actually happened.  BG had been playing well against poor opposition at home, but their last road games had been so bad, you just didn't know if they were going to be able to compete at Kent, a team with 2 P5 wins.  Maybe they could win.  You certainly didn't even imagine winning by 22.

And yet, that's what happened.  It was highly enjoyable.  I spent the entire game afraid to jinx the success BG was having.  But whereas in other situations BG has taken a big lead only to end up in a close game, the Falcons closed this one out.  BG outplayed a good Kent team for 40 minutes in their gym, and now they have to be viewed seriously in the MAC.

Of course, there's a game Tuesday, right?  Coach Huger said you could enjoy it on the road trip home, but you need to be back at work on Sunday morning.  And I don't say that in a "what have you done for me lately" sense.  I mean it to say that teams competing to be in the top of this conference string games like that together.

I am looking VERY forward to Tuesday.  Cannot wait.

Post-game, Coach Huger was obviously very happy.  Kent is a proven offensive producer and my preview said BG needed to defend really well to compete...not a genius observation, I know.  And they did.  BG played solid defense, Kent was off their rhythm and missed some open shots, BG managed Jaylin Walker.  Coach said BG played well for 40 minutes, kept the pressure on Kent.

It's probably the best game the Falcons have played since Coach Huger came back.

To get the magnitude of the win, let's see some quotes from Coach Senderhoff in the Record-Courier.

This is the worst loss I can remember being a part of, said KSU coach Rob Senderoff. We weren’t ready. That’s on me. We’ve got to get better. That’s the bottom line. 
...We’re not 11-2 anymore.  To me it was just a bad overall effort. That falls on my shoulders. I’ve got to do a better job getting us understanding what this conference is about. We’ve got to move on.

All right then.  When you're getting quotes like that out of your opponent, it had to be a good night.

BG went up 7-0 in 1:11.  For the last 24 minutes of the game, the lead was never within 10.  BG led by 14 at halftime and led by as much as 25 points in the 2nd half.  BG completely and totally outplayed Kent.  It was a night to remember.

BG had 1.17 points per possession, which is a monster game.  They eclipsed that total only once last year in MAC play, and that was against WMU.  They allowed .87 points per possession, a total they bettered only twice last year in MAC play.  And the two things came together on the same night.

Let's start with the defense.  As noted, Kent is a proficient 3FG shooting team.  They were the #83 team in the nation in offense, and #53 in 3FG shooting.  Against BG, they shot 29%.  They shot 47% from 2FG, which is below their already below-average track record.  They have been very good at taking care of the ball, but had a season high 22% turnovers against BG.  They are a good offensive rebounding team and they did well there.  Lastly, though, they came in very good at getting to the line and yet shot only 11 FTs against the Falcons.

I don't have data for this, but my observation is that BG is just much better on offense off a stop.  Even if there's no transition and we end up in a half court set, BG just seems to be more effective on offense off a defensive rebound or turnover.  BG had a great game on offense.  BG shot 55% from 2FG and 41% from 3FG.  Since the Cleveland State debacle, BG has shot at least D1 average in every game and usually better.

BG did have some turnover issues but was strong on the defensive boards.  The Falcons also only shot 11 FTs.

Individually, as you would expect, BG got contributions up and down the line.

Justin Turner is a beast.  Straight up.  As good a player as we have had here in a long time.  He scored 20 for the 8th time this year.  That's the most in the MAC.  And he doesn't do it pouring shots up.  He was 9 of 14 and 2-2 shooting, if that's something you might be interested in.  Also, 5 assists and 1 turnover.  He also did the majority of guarding on Jaylin Walker, who was essentially reduced to a non-factor.

Demajeo Wiggins, (or Demajo if you work on the Kent broadcast), had another big game.  He scored 19 on 8 of 14 shooting and 14 rebounds.  He made 3 of 4 from the line and SHOT A TECHNICAL FOUL for BG.  He's tied for first in double-doubles in the nation.  It is interesting.  He definitely impacts defensive spacing and sometimes does it without getting the ball.  Seems so much more effective than when BG used to force the ball into (for example) Calhoun, and then try to work off that.  Anyway, Wiggins is having a special year.

Dylan Frye?  Yes, Dylan is still struggling with his shot.  He had 12 on 4 of 13 and 2 of 7 shooting.  But the 2 3FGs he did make extended runs and he also had 4 assists and 2 turnovers, and he's on the court for all the defense, too.

Antwon Lillard is coming off the bench now and he's been super productive the last couple games.  He scored 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting and 3 of 4 shooting.  In 21 minutes.

Who else?  Michael Laster has 14 assists and 2 TOs over his last 4 games.  Coach said after the game that he's learning he doesn't have to shoot and score.  THIS TEAM needs him to distribute the ball and he's doing a great job.  In this game, he had 5 assists and no turnovers in 17 minutes.

Marlon Sierra?  Played 11 minutes, 2-3 and 1-1 shooting.  Solid presence.

Daeqwon Plowen had 4 points, 5 rebounds and a monster block and also just was a solid presence.  Similarly, Caleb Fields is still finding his shot as a true FR, but when's he's out there he's moving and moving the ball quickly.  He isn't afraid to shoot.  And, obviously, both of these guys were part of the big team D BG played.

Look.  I have a full and happy life.  I am blessed.  But it is crazy how good it makes me feel when my team plays like they did yesterday.  See you Tuesday.  Let's get people to the game.

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