Need To Know
Belmont wins the OVC title outright, having already wrapped up the top seed in the OVC Tournament before today’s game. Jacksonville State finishes the season 17-11, 8-8 in conference play. The Gamecocks are ineligible for postseason play due to punishments related to low APR.
|FG (%)||22-50 (44.0%)||26-46 (56.5%)|
|3FG (%)||8-18 (44.4%)||3-11 (27.3%)|
|FT (%)||19-26 (73.1%)||23-24 (95.8%)|
|REB (O/D)||27 (14/13)||26 (8/18)|
Points: Kerron Johnson – 26
Rebounds: JJ Mann, Trevor Noack – 5
Assists: Kerron Johnson – 5
Points: Tarvin Gaines – 19
Rebounds: Nick Cook – 10
Assists: Brian Williams – 2
On the Bruins final home game for the seniors, it wasn’t Naismith award candidate Ian Clark stealing the show; It was his partner in the backcourt. Senior Kerron Johnson scored a career-high 26 points and dished out five assists as Belmont wrapped up sole possession of the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title with a 78-71 win over Jacksonville State on senior day.
Much like the team’s previous matchup this season, the Bruins were lights out from the charity stripe, hitting 23-24 free throw attempts.
Belmont jumped on Jacksonville State right out of the gate with a 5-0 lead, but Jacksonville State would score seven unanswered thanks to back-to-back threes from Tarvin Gaines to take a 7-5 lead. It would be their only lead of the game.
Belmont shot 68% from the field in the opening twenty minutes, hammering the ball in the paint. Belmont’s two biggest three-point threats didn’t score a single point until a halftime buzzer beater three by Clark. Instead, it was a steady dose of drives from Johnson, and dishes to Blake Jenkings and Trevor Noack who both finished in double-digit scoring.
Jacksonville State fell behind early during a seven plus minute field goal drought, but hit back-to-back-to-back three’s late in the first half to bring an 11-point deficit down to two with 1:17 left int he half. But after a Johnson layup and Clark’s last second shot, Jacksonville State trailed by seven at the break.
In the second half, the Gamecocks fought back to within two points with 14:34 remaining, but then couldn’t find the basket again. An eight-plus minute field goal drought helped the Bruins build their lead back to 10, and they would hold on down the stretch thanks to their terrific free throw shooting.
Five Gamecocks would finish in double figures, led by 19 from Gaines. Jacksonville State edged Belmont on the boards thanks in part to 14 offensive rebounds. 10 of the Gamecocks 27 rebounds came from Nick Cook off the bench.
Belmont shot 56% from the field for the game, attempting just 11 three-point attempts, well below their season average. The Bruins outscored the Gamecocks in the paint 42-24, an area of relative weakness for Belmont this season.
What’s Being Said
It’s been a good four years…
— Chip Hayner (@chayner) March 2, 2013
The seed is great. Now can they capitalize next week?
Belmont Bruins are conference champs, #1 seed in first year in OVC. Huge.
— Steve Cavendish (@scavendish) March 2, 2013
I could have given them my contacts:
— Mike Organ (@MikeOrganWriter) March 2, 2013
What I saw
I’ve been high on this Belmont team all season, and tonight showed me again why. They are so deep, and don’t need the three-point shot to beat you, although it’s a great weapon in their arsenal. When this team clicks on offense, which they did today, it’s a beauty to watch, and incredibly deadly.
Despite the great performance scoring in the paint tonight, I still can’t help but think the Bruins are weaker in the frontcourt than a lot of the other teams in the conference. Jacksonville State is by far the worst in the league in rebounding, and Belmont was simply even with them tonight. The 14 offensive rebounds the Bruins gave up is simply too many. They can shoot their way past that issue on many nights, but the problem comes on the nights they can’t.
It’s a shame that Jacksonville State isn’t eligible for the OVC Tournament, but I not certain they would have been a real threat to win the conference. They’re just too inconsistent. Tonight they had three or four series they would play great, composed offense, then go seven or eight minutes without a field goal. Defensively, the Gamecocks were simply beat. Possession after possession Belmont found an open player in the post, and JSU lost nearly every one-on-one battle in the paint.
The Bruins have to be the favorite to win the OVC Tournament next week, and not just because of their seed. They’re playing as well right now as they have all year, (even without Ian Clark shooting 70%) and it’s going to take a special effort to keep these Bruins out of the NCAA Tournament