…until it becomes a trend.
The Ohio Valley Conference only played 12 exhibition games this season. They lost 16% of them. Jacksonville State is the latest victim, falling to Division II West Georgia 87-78 Monday night. The lesson from this one?
Free-throws matter. So do turnovers. Jacksonville State was a tepid 9-16 from the free-throw line, while West Georgia hit 17-19. Hurting the Gamecocks even more, 21 turnovers, compared to just 13 from the Wolves. Those JSU turnovers turned into 26 points for West Georgia.
JSU is the second OVC team to drop an exhibition game this season. Murray State, quite possibly one of the most unlikely teams to drop such a contest, lost last week. More often than not, I’m the person trying to hold fans back from overreacting.
But this is starting to feel noteworthy. JSU rolled in their first exhibition game, posting 110 points. A James Green basketball team scored 110 points in a regulation game. That doesn’t happen often. Murray State is…Murray State. These two teams just dropped a game within days of each other, to lower level teams.
One of the thing we enjoy so much about college basketball is the chaos — the feeling that any team, on any night, can beat another. Except, that’s really only supposed to extend to teams in the same division of basketball. Freed-Hardeman is a good NAIA team, and West Georgia is a good D-II team. But they’re not supposed to beat Division I teams. They’re not supposed to beat Murray State and Jacksonville State.
Of course, Murray State isn’t supposed to go 4-29 from three-point range, or shoot 56% from the free-throw line in the second half. Jacksonville State should probably score more than 8 second chance points off 20 offensive rebounds, and shoot better than 20% (6-30) from the field in the first-half.
It’s too soon to tell whether this is something that should concern fans, of it was a pair of off nights in games that don’t really matter.
In four days — they do.