The Tigers once again struggled to put away an inferior opponent. We were down 32-28 at the half, and trailed by 9 with about 15 minutes remaining in the game. But some big plays down the stretch (including some big dunks by Devin Booker) helped turn the momentum in our favor as we garnered a W in our last non-conference game of the year.
Book finished with a career-high 22 points; he also got 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. He finished 8 of 12 from the field; most of his misses came on the hook shot that has never worked for him. I hated seeing so many hook shots, but he also (on more than one occasion) got behind his defender in anticipation of the alley-oop slam. But was this game a product of a new and improved Devin Booker? Or was his play more of a product of the Buccaneers' lack of size? I'm leaning towards the latter, but he'll have a chance to prove me wrong against FSU on Saturday.
Tanner Smith and Andre Young both had terrible games. Tanner, just two games removed from one of the best games of his career, reverted back into Turnover Smith. He had 4 turnovers in the 1st half alone, then added in 2 more in the 2nd half for good measure. He finished the game with SIX TURNOVERS. Most of them came when he tried to force things inside. He also struggled with the long ball, shooting 1-5 from beyond the arc.
Andre Young also continued his shooting slump. He finished a not terrible 2-6 from beyond the arc, but he didn't ever look confident with his shot. He would never take a shot right when he got the ball,even if he was wide open and 21 feet from the basket. He always stepped to the side before deciding what to do with the ball. And after so much hesitation, it's no wonder he's struggling with his shot. And like Tanner, he too struggled with turnovers; he turned it over 4 times. The most egregious one came when,while unguarded, he simply lost the handle on the ball, and it ended up on the other side of the mid-court line for a backcourt violation.
So Tanner and Andre both had bad games, but TJ Sapp played really well. The freshmen, in his first start since November 19th (against CoC), made up for the struggles of Andre and Tanner. He shot 4-5 from beyond the arc. He may not bring it on the defensive end as well as Rod Hall, but he's the team's best shooter by far right now, meaning he might get the start again against FSU.
In his first game since his fight with Brownell, Milton played a quiet game. He did hit a couple of nice jump shots (finished with 7 points) and got 3 steals, 3 blocks, and 7 rebounds, and he only turned the ball over twice (which is good for Milton), but he didn't do anything to convince me that the suspension taught him a lesson or made him a better player. He finished the game with the same kind of decent but not spectacular stat line that he usually produces.
So the Tigers finish the non-conference portion of the schedule with an 8-6 record. Look for a mid-season review from ggggmen08 later this week.
Next up: FSU, Saturday @ 4 on ESPN2.