This year may be the “year of the defense” in college basketball.
SIUE didn’t get the memo.
For the second straight game in three days, this time at a (notably good) Central Michigan team, the Cougars defense proved to be MIA, as Central Michigan rolled over the Cougars in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The Chippewas hit 63% from three-point range in the first half, on their way to a school record 20 triples in 94-61 win over SIUE.
This is hardly a new experience for the Cougars this season.
Wednesday night, SIUE hosted Southern Illinois, the Salukis ran away from the Cougars in the first half, hitting 4-6 from three-point range, and 56% from the field. The game before? Portland State hits 6-11 from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes, and 55.6% from the field.
And the game before that? Portland hits 8-14 from three point range in the first half, and 50% from the field.
With the exception of Portland State, where the Cougars hit enough shots to make it to overtime, the other three were over at the break..
If you just look at the final box for those games, the defensive numbers are slightly more respectable, but that’s more the product of their opponents going deep into their bench thanks to insurmountable leads.
Even with some boost in the final minutes, the numbers are far from good. Entering today’s game against Central Michigan, SIUE ranked dead last in the OVC, and 328th (out of 349) nationally in defensive points per possession. In opponent’s three point percentage? 347th.
They aren’t forcing turnovers (12th in the league in opponents turnover rate) either.
SIUE’s offense is far from terrible, although much like the defense they’re often making late gains at the expense of the opponent’s bench. But until SIUE begins to show up defensively, they, nor almost any team in college basketball, has the offense to win at this level.