After defeating Ohio in the opening round, the Tigers played Hofstra in the second round of the Charleston Classic. The Tigers grabbed an early lead (10-2), but Eli Thomas quickly picked up two fouls and sat for most of the first half. This invited the Hofstra Pride to attack the Tigers in the paint. Hofstra did this successfully and was within 2 points (28-30) late in the half.
The Tigers closed out the half on a 12-4 run, capped off by a drawn charge by Mark Donnal and a three-pointer by Donte Grantham to take 42-32 into halftime. The Tigers did this despite getting no first half points from Eli Thomas. Grantham had 12 points, Reed 11, and Mitchell 10 in the half.
The Tigers slowly extended their lead throughout the nine minutes following halftime. A three-pointer by Shelton Mitchell extended the lead to 64-44 with just over 11 minutes to go. From there, the Tigers coasted to 78-60 victory.
Donte Grantham had one of the most impressive games of his career. He finished with 22 points. He knocked down 3 three-pointers, but what has most encouraging was how he attacked the basket to finish with 6 two-point field goals. Marcquise Reed finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Mitchell finished with 13 points and 4 assists.
No bench player scored more than one field goal, but Aamir Simms is beginning to stand out for his proclivity to get in position to receive passes for easy lay-ins. He found another in this game. Mark Donnal played a lot of minutes with Eli Thomas in foul trouble for most of the night. Donnal finished 1-4 with 2 rebounds. He got beat in the post a few times, and doesn’t seem particularly quick, but should be a satisfactory backup to Thomas if not pressed into major minutes. He’ll play a critical role for the Tigers on nights like this one.
Notching an 18-point victory with Thomas sitting for most of the night is very encouraging. Thomas makes a huge impact when he is on the court. He scored just 5 points in this one and the Tigers got the job done anyway.
Next, the Tigers will play Temple for the Charleston Classic trophy on Sunday at 9:30 on ESPN2. The Temple Owls offer the Tigers their first big test of the season. KenPom gives the Tigers a 51% chance to win.