OVC Ball Statbox
|20-10 (12-4 OVC)|
|20-9 (11-5 OVC)|
|23/47 (48.9%)||Field Goals||30/56 (53.6%)|
|13/32 (40.6%)||3-Point FG||2/8 (25.0%)|
|13/20 (65.0%)||Free Throws||25/34 (73.5%)|
|27 (8/19)||Rebounds (O/D)||33 (14/19)|
|7||2nd Chance Pts||16|
|18||Points off TO||26|
|12||Pts in the Paint||44|
Tempo Tracker (Possessions)
Tennessee State offense
What happened: Ball control has been an issue, at times, for the Bruins this season. But to find the last time Belmont turned the ball over as many times as they did on Sunday, you have to go back to January 28th, 2011.
In a game that had much more meaning for TSU than Belmont, the Tigers forced 26 turnovers, which they turned into 26 points, in a 87-72 win over Belmont.
Despite 16 first-half turnovers, the Bruins trailed by just one at the break, thanks in part to 55% shooting from he field, and just 1-6 three-point shooting from the Tigers. TSU only attempted eight three-pointers in the game, compared to 32 for the Bruins.
Keron Deshields led Tennessee State with a 25-point night, hitting 11-13 from the charity stripe in the wind. Austin Luke scored a team-high 18 points for the Bruins, but also had a team-high four turnovers in the loss.
The turnovers are a bit concerning, because 26 is a large number, and that’s not just on the bench. Luke had four turnovers, and the starting five combined for 13, not counting three that were credited to “team” in the box score. The Bruins are mid-pack in turnover percentage in the OVC, so this isn’t exactly a one-off, although I cannot imagine seeing 20 Belmont turnovers in an OVC Tournament game.
The Bruins were also decimated inside, allowing 44 points in the paint to Tennessee State, which is another area where Belmont has struggled this year.
Still, it’s probably nothing. Other than ‘momentum,’ Belmont didn’t have a lot to gain from Sunday.
Player of the Night: Nick Smith had a solid night off the bench, scoring 12 points in 15 minutes, and hitting four of the Bruins 13 three’s.
What’s next: Possibly TSU again. The Bruins are in the semi’s, where they’ll get either Austin Peay, Tennessee Tech, or the Tigers on Friday night in Nashville.
What it means: Even given the lack of motivation for the Bruins, Tennessee State’s defense has played it’s best all season in the past two weeks, and Sunday was no exception. The Tigers still send their opponents to the line an awful lot, but they finish conference play with the highest forced turnover rate, and one of the best shooting defenses.
Given how even the field seems to be, getting that single-bye is crucial. The Tigers don’t have the easiest path to a title, but they avoid the last three teams to beat them: both Morehead State and UT Martin are in the other half of the bracket, and Eastern Kentucky was eliminated.
It’s also worth noting — they beat Tennessee Tech in their last matchup by 30, to go along with this 15-point win over Belmont, the two teams they’re most likely to face. And the games are in Nashville, a semi-home game for the Tigers. (…and the Bruins, for that matter)
Player of the night: DeShieds didn’t have the best shooting night, but Tahjere McCall added 17 points coming off the bench, while hitting 5-9 from the field.
What’s next: Either the Golden Eagles or the Governors in the OVC Tournament quarterfinals.