OVC Ball Statbox
|8-7 (1-0 OVC)|
|10-6 (0-1 OVC)|
|35/65 (53.8%)||Field Goals||26/60 (43.3%)|
|10/22 (45.5%)||3-Point FG||10/26 (38.5%)|
|10/13 (76.9%)||Free Throws||10/14 (71.4%)|
|37 (14/23)||Rebounds (O/D)||30 (11/19)|
|16||2nd Chance Pts||12|
|8||Points off TO||10|
|42||Pts in the Paint||30|
Tempo Tracker (Possessions)
Top 3 Gamescore
|PTS: 18||REB: 11||FG: 7-10 (70%)||AST: 5|
|PTS: 16||FG: 6-7 (86%)||3PT: 4-4 (100%)||REB: 6|
|PTS: 12||OREB: 5||DREB: 8||REB: 13|
Jacksonville State offense
UT Martin offense
We knew the Skyhawks were, to put it nicely, “defensively challenged” heading into conference play.
They were just picked apart by one of the league most effective offenses.
Jacksonville State put up 52 points in the opening 20 minutes on the road, and held the Skyhawks to just 25 second-half points in a 90-82 win to open up Ohio Valley Conference play. Five Gamecocks scored in double-figures, as Jacksonville State shot 53% from the field in the win.
The win is the first salvo in the East’s repeated dominance of the West in the years since division play began.
“I was happy with the way our guys played,” head coach Ray Harper said after the win. “We had five guys score 10-or-more, 19 assists and just eight turnovers. We played the game the right way tonight.”
“I thought we were outhustled,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said of the Skyhawks second-half play. “We weren’t physical and I didn’t like our energy, especially with it being our first conference game. We have to get in the gym tomorrow and correct a lot of things to get back to our winning ways.”
“I thought we were outhustled”
The first half was much more back and forth than the second. UT Martin led early, before a 17-6 run saw the Gamecocks lead by as much as eight. The Skyhawks, led by Jacobly Mobley‘s eight first-half points off the bench, kept the game tight throughout the opening half, but defensively had no answers for the Gamecocks’ three-point shooters, who combined to hit 8-11 (72.7%) from deep in the opening half.
A 17-2 second-half run by Jacksonville State put the game away.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR JACKSONVILLE STATE
I wrote earlier this year that JSU’s offense was sneaky good: they weren’t always going to produce big-time scores because of their pace-of-play, but it was effective at getting points. This should be a pretty major wake-up call to anyone that thought this was the Gamecocks’ of old.
What’s equally impressive is the offensive balance. Guys like Erik Durham and Malcolm Drumwright give the Gamecocks an outside threat, while Norbertas Giga and Christian Cunningham dominate the inside. Few teams have similar talent in all five starting positions, that that allows the Gamecocks to challenge opposing defenses at wherever their weaknesses are.
Defensively, the Gamecocks weren’t any better than the Skyhawks in the opening 20 minutes, but really clamped down in the second half, holding the Skyhawks to just 7-26 shooting (26.9%) from the field.
While the final score is eyeopening, maybe the final result shouldn’t have all that surprising. The Skyhawks were favored by just two (home-court advantage is usually worth three or four) meaning the Gamecocks would have been favored on a neutral court, and favored by about six if the game were played in Jacksonville.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR UT MARTIN
Oooh Boy. We knew the Skyhawks record was likely a bit inflated (their SOS was the second weakest in the conference in our last update) but this, on their own home court, isn’t exactly encouraging. The defense wasn’t good all night, although it’s worth pointing out that the Gamecocks rank No. 1 in the league in offensive efficiency. The problem for the Skyhawks is that likely top rival in the West, Murray State, ranks No. 3.
For all-intensive purposes, JSU will hold the tiebreaker over the Skyhawks for seeding come OVC Tournament time; the teams just play once. (Which is why I can’t stand that East-West games are so early in conference play)
The offensive struggle in the second-half is likely more an aberration than a trend, one precipitated in part by the Skyhawks inability to force turnovers. The Skyhawks own turnover numbers were in the single digits as well, which is a step in the positive direction.
Kahari Beaufort probably isn’t long for the starting lineup. This was his second start of the year, and he ended up playing just 11 minutes, scoring a single point and netting one rebound.
The loss, in and of itself, isn’t backbreaking by any means. But if the Skyhawks defense is as bad as this performance shows, that’s going to be hard to overcome, regardless how strong the Skyhawks may be offensively.