Friday night, Eastern Kentucky picked up one of the most impressive wins the OVC has ever had over a top-25 team, dismantling No. 18 Miami in the grove, thanks in part to a 16-2 run to open the second half.
So, how did EKU do it? We watched the tape, and broke down some of the key moments early in that run. First, a few numbers about the run itself.
EKU played best we can tell two different defenses during that run, starting off with appeared to be a 1-3-1 matchup, followed by a 2-3 zone. (only a much more aggressive version of it, with one man challenging the ball handler regardless where he was on the court) The result? A lot of Miami three’s, and a lot of misses. Here’s the stats from the 16-2 run, which lasted the first 9:18 of the second half:
- Miami: 1-13 shooting, 0-8 from three-point range. (Of those eight three’s, six were first-shot three’s, meaning not coming off an offensive rebound. That’ll be important in a moment)
- EKU: 6-12 shooting, 4-7 from three-point range
- Turnovers: Miami 2, EKU 2
- Offensive Rebounds: Miami 5 (on 12 misses), EKU 3 (on 6 misses)
I threw in the last two for this reason: both were fairly even. Those are usually noteworthy in big runs, but in this instance, it wasn’t the case. It all came down to half-court execution.
It should be noted: Miami’s best guard, Angel Rodriguez, didn’t play much of the run, but neither did EKU’s leading scorer Corey Walden, who drew his third foul early in the second half.
EKU’s first three shows what a threat having a five (read: center for you old schoolers) that can shoot a three. After Stutz passed to Isaac McGlone in the corner, McGlone drives into the lane, drawing Miami center in for the double-team
McGlone immediately recognizes what’s happening, and before Miami can set up the double team, McGlone finds a wide open Stutz who knocks down a three.
On most teams, a five can be left on the perimeter without much cause. EKU is an exception to that rule, and I’m going to guess Miami probably was told that. (It’s not a secret)
McGlone would hit from 24-feet on his next possession against a soft-zone from Miami, prompting the Hurricanes to take a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, EKU switched defenses to their aggressive 2-3 zone. This is where Miami got especially three-point happy for awhile, and while not all the shots were bad looks, the problem was they weren’t even looking inside, and EKU gets some credit for that.
On the next two Miami possessions, the Hurricanes clearly want to play through the high post, and on both possessions, Miami’s bigs get positioned in the high-post and call for a pass.
But on both of those plays, EKU’s pressure on the ball-handler has made that a much more difficult pass, so instead, the ball ends up in the hands of another guard. Both those possessions ended with a three-point miss, and on neither possession does the ball ever go inside the three-point arc.
From here, it was a bit of lather, rinse, repeat for Miami, who missed eight-three point attempts during the run, although you couldn’t have asked for one or two to have been more open.
Let’s fast forward to one more EKU play, and again it’s Stutz who deserves credit for great awareness. After a Ja’Mill Powell three misses, the rebound goes long, and Stutz, who was blocked out well on the play, gets the rebound. Immediately, Miami brings a double team.
The guy that goes to create the double is McGlone’s man, which given that McGlone had already burned Miami from three-point range, wasn’t the best decision. I circled Manu Lecomte on the play, because it’s clear this is about the point that he realizes “we just left a three-point shooter wide open outside the arc,” but Stutz quickly gets the pass off, and Lecomte doesn’t get close to disrupting the shot.
There were a lot of other moments in a dominant second-half for Eastern Kentucky, but these were some of the plays that allowed EKU to pull away. Bottom-line: EKU played smart, patient basketball, and made the most of their opportunities. Miami didn’t.