Where some teams have surprised me in a good way, (Murray State, EIU, and to a lesser extent SEMO) others have left a sour taste in my mouth.
Two of those teams played tonight, and didn’t do a lot to change my mind.
Here’s tonight’s final word:
[UT Martin 55, Lipscomb 70] I told you the Skyhawks would struggle to score, and sadly I was right. UT Martin dishes out just 7 assists, but turns the ball over 22 times, in another double digit loss for a team that just can’t find an offensive identity. Mike Liabo has almost become more of a liability on offense after another poor shooting game, but having watched this team in person, often times it feels like other Skyhawks are afraid of missing, and pass up good shots. They hit just 37% from the field, with Jeremy Washington leading all scorers with 12 points. Yes, you read that right: Despite scoring 70 points as a team, no Bison scored more than 11 in the win, but 4 finished with double digits.
[Tennessee St. 62, Belmont 75] The Tigers appear to have a slight depth problem. Once again, a team pulls away from them in the second half after playing even for the first 20. Tennessee State loses despite just 9 turnovers thanks in part to a 25-10 free throw disparity, which Belmont took advantage of by hitting 21 of those 25 from the line. Robert Covington only played 22 minutes in the loss due to foul trouble, Kellen Thorton only played 18, leaving 6’8″ freshman forward M.J. Rhett and rarely used sophomore center Muniru Bawa to play more than head coach John Cooper would probably like.
[N.C. Central 62, Eastern Kentucky 75] Are we starting to see a bit of resurgence from the Colonels? EKU uses a 48 point second half, 52% shooting and 22 forced turnovers to get their 2nd straight win at home. Senior guard Jaron Jones is angling for player of the week honors after a 30 point performance against the Eagles on 10-12 shooting and a perfect 8-8 from the FT line. D’Mitri Riggs adds 17, but the rest of the starters are once again quiet, which again brings up worry about consistency from this team.
[Ball State 76, SIU Edwardsville 55] The 3-point shot has fallen silent for the Cougars, and that’s really not good news. SIU Edwardsville hits just 4-24 from behind arc as the Cougars are blown out at home. Jarrod Jones has another big game against the OVC putting up 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Cardinals, but is outdone by Jesse Berry‘s 25 points off the bench. No real impressive performances by the starters on the Cougars side of the stat sheet, as the team hit just 35% from the field. Corey Wickware goes 0-5 from the field, finishing the game scoreless, but Michael Messer ties a team high of 12 points off of 4-5 shooting off the bench.