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Food for thought today: If you took the craziest sports fan you know, would they be any crazier than the average Black Friday shopper.

Think about it. Here’s today’s First Word:

Jacksonville State (3-2) vs Northern Arizona (1-2)
3:30 CST

Through five games, I find this baffling: The Gamecocks are hitting just 21% from 3-point range. This is the point in the season where statistics begin to level out, and the fact that theirs is so low just boggles the mind. This team was the second worse 3-point shooting team in the nation last season, and that’s when they were hitting 27% from deep. The fact that they already have two wins against Division I competition is rather impressive, honestly.

In a lot of ways, Northern Arizona is the anti-Jacksonville State. They want to run and gun, and make the occasional three. They’re not sound defensively, part of the reason their opponents this season are averaging 85 points a game. The Lumberjacks have dual threats in the backcourt with Gabe Rogers and Dewayne Bewernick, both averaging more than 16 points a game. The lumberjacks rotate four men in the front court rather equally, and while none are consistent scorers, they’re all sound on the glass. For a team that likes to run, the Lumberjacks don’t have the same turnover problems that many up-tempo teams do.

Speaking of ball control, that is becoming is a real area of concern for the Gamecocks this season.


Northwestern (3-1) at Belmont (4-0)
10:00 p.m. CST – CBS College Sports

There’s not a lot negative you can say about the Bruins this season. They’ve been tested, they’ve shown they can score in bunches, their defense is among the best in the nation, they have two great leaders, and they don’t beat themselves. They’ll provide the stiffest test yet for Northwestern, a team with three wins by the skin of their teeth against mostly middling opponents.

The Huskies have a talented guard in Joel Smith, but their real stars are a pair of sophomores in the frontcourt. Quincy Ford and Reggie Spencer are 6’8″ and 6’7″ respectively, and both are averaging at least 12 point and 6 rebounds a game this season. Northwestern is much more methodical on offense than the Bruins, but turnover the ball often, which could allow Belmont to play a more up-tempo game.

Early foul trouble kept Kerron Johnson out of rhythm in the Bruins opening round win against Alaska Anchorage, but he and Ian Clark have been terrific as expected so far this season. But what really makes Belmont dangerous is the sharpshooting of J.J. Mann (hitting 10-17 from three so far this year) and the improved play of senior Trevor Noack, a kid that appeared to have taken a big step backward last season. All four are averaging double digit scoring, making for quite possibly the most lethal starting five right now in the OVC.

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OVC Ball
Final Word (11/13): Jacksonville State stands alone…in basketball too.

2017-18 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 0-0 2-0
Tennessee Tech 0-0 1-1
Murray State 0-0 1-1
Southeast Missouri* 0-0 1-1
Belmont 0-0 1-1
Eastern Kentucky 0-0 1-1
Tennessee State 0-0 1-1
Eastern Illinois 0-0 0-1
SIUE 0-0 0-1
Austin Peay 0-0 0-2
Morehead State 0-0 0-2
UT Martin 0-0 0-2

*Ineligible for postseason (APR)