Belmont easily topped Denver in an early afternoon game in Nashville. Our initial reactions:
Even after quick start — until the final four minutes: Denver’s kids didn’t wake up until 1:15, and by then it was too late. Belmont jumped out to a 17-4 lead early. Denver pulled it back to single digits a few times, but never really threatened the Bruins. Belmont went on another run in the final four minutes to put it out of reach.
Barnette is the new J.J. Mann: A step too far, too early? Maybe. But Taylor Barnette is just a sophomore after transferring from Virginia — and if the first six games are any indication, that means two and half more seasons of solid three-point shooting. The guard hit 5-11 on the game, and is 23-44 (52.3%) on the season from three-point range. He hit 43% as a freshman at Virginia, so this isn’t exactly unprecedented. But he’s going to be a nightmare for guards to defend in the OVC.
Free-throw resurgence: The Bruins have uncharacteristically struggled from the free-throw line this season, hitting just 65% coming into today’s game. It wasn’t a problem this afternoon. Belmont hit 29-32 from the charity stripe, which was a good spark for an offense that never fully woke.
One-and-done: Neither team shot the ball particularly well, especially in the first half, and neither team crashed the glass; Belmont and Denver combined for 13 offensive rebounds.
Two-man game: It was all about Craig Bradshaw and Barnette. The two combined for 49 of the Bruins 48 points. No other Bruin scored more than eight points.