Another out of conference game, yet this one doesn’t bother me like Eastern Kentucky playing Longwood over the weekend. Why not? Because not only is Morehead State on the road, they’re playing a good team from the MEAC. This is a game that helps your team. Playing a worse team at home? Not so much.
Here’s today’s First Word:
[Morehead State (10-11) at Norfolk State (15-5), 6:00 p.m. CST]
You may not remember it (I didn’t) but this is Norfolk’s 2nd foray into playing an OVC school, as the Spartans earned a 70-63 win at home over Eastern Kentucky back in November. In that win, Norfolk State shot 66% from the field. Really. 2 out of every 3 shots were good. 3-point shooting and offensive rebounding (the Colonels held Norfolk State to 0. Of course when you only miss 12 shots…) kept the Colonels in this game.
The Spartans have made their name defensively this season, especially from deep. That EKU game was an anomaly for the Spartans, who are 10th in the nation in 3-point shooting defense (allowing 28.3% from deep) and even better in conference play (23.3%!)
The one player you have to stop on offense is Kyle O’Quinn. The 6′ 10″ senior center is averaging over 15 points a game, and put up 23 against the undersized Colonels earlier in the season. With the tallest player on Morehead State’s team getting significant minutes only 6’7″, this could be a challenge for the Eagles as well. The Spartans also have 2 guards averaging over 12 points a game, so stopping just one player isn’t likely to stop Norfolk State’s offense.
This is one team that getting into a free throw battle with might actually be a good thing. O’Quinn is actually a good free throw shooter for his size, hitting 66% from the charity stripe, which is better than the teams 64% average.
Pace wise, the Spartans like the force tempo, something that goes very much against Donnie Tyndall‘s offensive philosophy this season, but are surprisingly neither apt at forcing takeaways or ball control themselves, which makes being an up-tempo team an odd choice.