Andre Young is on a roll. He didn't score a career-high like he did last weekend, but he did end up with a game-high19 points (7-12 from field, 3-6 from 3, 2-4 at the line) and a 5:0 assist to turnover ratio.
Speaking of turnovers, we did a great job of not turning the ball over in the first half. We only had two turnovers through the first 25 minutes of the game (both from Milton), but then Tanner and Rod Hall started to making bad decisions, and we ended up with 6 in the 2nd half. Still, we did a much better job today of making good decisions with the ball.
Speaking of Tanner, he continued to struggle from the free throw line (1-3). But it's not from a lack of trying. He was out there on the court by himself before the game practicing free throws. He made the vast majority of his shots in his solo pregame warmup, but his training regime didn't translate into in-game success. This team has had some free throw struggles of late (although we did better today: 15-22, 68.2%), and a lot of fans have (understandably) demanded that they practice their free throws more. But it's really hard to simulate an in-game environment outside of a game. I'm not trying to make excuses for Tanner; he still needs to make the shots. I'd just like to point out that his misses are not from a lack of practice. It's more mental than anything else, in my opinion.
Speaking of recent criticism, Devin has obviously seen his fair share of it recently. He looked better today in his return to the starting lineup. He had his signature dunks as always (and didn't miss one this game, as far as I can remember), and he had a pretty good defensive game with a trio of impressive blocks. He didn't go too strong to the hoop today, instead settling for some bank of the glass hooks. Many (myself included) have criticized him for not going strong to the hoop, arguing that with his frame (6-8, 245) he should be able to every time he gets the ball in the post. But a couple of factors today probably discouraged him from taking the ball right to the rim, and encouraged him instead to settle for some hook shots. 1. He had to worry about Ty Walker's shot blocking ability (he had 3 today). And 2. The refs weren't always calling fouls for us today, even when some of the guys went strong to the hoop. Considering the factors above, I think Devin had a pretty good game today.
The refs weren't doing us any favors today. The Deacs were in the bonus at the 8:45 mark of the 2nd half, but only commited 4 fouls in the first 18 minutes of the 2nd half. They committed a slew of them at the end there to intentionally put us in the bonus. And by a slew, I mean 8 in the final 70 seconds. This obviously skewed the final foul count for them. The box score lists both teams with 18 personal fouls, but this was not indicative at all of how the game played itself out.
Milton had a rough game. It took him less than a minute to commit both a turnover and a foul. He went 2-10 from the field today, and committed both 3 turnovers and 3 personal fouls. And he didn't play the best defense either; he just needs to do a better job of staying between his man and the basket. Time and again, one of the Deacs was able to blow right by him. And it didn't help that he would sometimes over pursue for the steal, and then give his man an open lane to the hoop.
It was great to see a nice offensive performance from Bryan Narcisse today. We only scored one field goal in the first 9:30 of the game today (we actually had some pretty good mid-range looks as well as some open long-range shots, but we just aren't a good shooting team), with the lone converted hoop coming from B-Nice. Bryan scored our first 4 points today, and 6 of our first 10. A couple of late free throws game him 11 points for the game. He did a great job of attacking the hoop, and went to the free throw line early and relatively often (6-6 at the line), but his defense still leaves a bit to be desired. When he's defending along the baseline, he doesn't play close enough to the line, and the ball handler is able to just blow by him right along the line.This has been a problem all season, so I don't see it getting fixed sadly. Although luckily for B-Nice, oftentimes when his guy blows by him, he just uses those lanky arms of his to get the block from behind.
Brownell has said that his guys' playing time in games is indicative of their play in practice. So I guess KJ McDaniels had a real bad week in practice. Devin Coleman (14 min.s), Rod Hall (14), TJ Sapp (15), and Bernard Sullivan (5) all saw action, but KJ didn't even see the court today. If he was suspended from the game today, I wasn't aware of it. The freshmen didn't do too much offensively today (only a combined 5 points), although Rod got a nice 3-point play that was reminiscent of his bucket that forced overtime against SIU back in December.
Oh, and congratulations to B-Nice and Tanner today. They graduated back in December, but didn't get to walk due to their basketball schedule, so before the game today, they received their diplomas from Barker in front of the Littlejohn crowd. Congrats guys.