For awhile last night I thought this game was going to go a lot like our very first Big Ten/ACC Challenge game. I was a student back then, and we hosted North Carolina State in a game that we led throughout, only to fall behind in the final minutes and lose. Once Barry Larkin's son Shane Larkin came off the bench and started lighting us up from long range I grew very concerned. The Hurricanes were struggling against our defense, but Larkin provided an unexpected start. Even the Category 6 guys were surprised at what he was doing.
When you look at the numbers it is hard to believe we allowed four players to score in double figures. I think most of it came from the sheer volume of shots the Hurricanes put up. Malcolm grant scored 16, but it took 15 shots to get there. Trey McKinney Jones had 10 on 10 shots. Durand Scott had 17 shots if you count his 10 free throws, but only scored 12 points. What we had was a sloppy, disjointed game that we seem to excel at.
Still, it was a win over a team that is going to be a fringe NCAA team as long as they figure out how to win close games. Last season they had a four game losing streak in league play where all four losses were by less than four points. Their style and talent level means they are going to be in a lot of close games, and as noted in the preview, they are missing three major players. Like all of our other victories, I wish them well so it can build our profile for later.
Positives From The Miami Game:
Robert Stroude - You may be wondering who this guy is, but he is a loyal reader that was able to take my tickets of my hands last night at the last minute. This was to be the first game I went to this season, but my car had to go into the shop, then I came down sick yesterday afternoon. It was the very fun swollen throat/body aches/chills sick that had me fairly laid up on the couch until now. Since I was in no condition to drive with the weather, Robert grabbed the tickets off of me. He rules!
Lewis Jackson - Last night we got scoring LewJack, which is just as much fun as distributing LewJack. Miami did not have an answer for his drives and ballhandling. No player on our team has his speed. He is smart with his drives, as he has the ability to decide at the last minute. Kelsey Barlow decides if he is going to drive when he crosses the half court line. You can tell in his body language. Lew Jack is a threat to cut on a dime.
Anthony Johnson and Terone Johnson - AJ and TJ played off of each other brilliantly for a few moments in the second half. They combined for 21 off the bench, something I could get very used to as the season progresses. Both have a nice teardrop runner that is virtually unstoppable if it is falling.
Robbie Hummel - Robbie was Robbie again, scoring 17 points that seemed like 47 when you consider about his time of baskets. He had the clincher jumper in the final two minutes that officially changed Miami's defensive strategy from "get a stop" to "Crap, we have to foul every possession now and how they miss." That can't be discounted.
Free Throws - They aren't over 70% yet, but we're getting closer. At least it wasn't a glaring weakness again.
Jacob Lawson, Sandi Marcius - The Chooch gave us the game's first four points and surprised us with a very nice and 1. He still needs a lot of polish, as he moves at about half the speed necessary, but he is coming along. Lawson is out best rebounder and garbage bucket producer. Even Travis Carroll had a bucket. If we can get a 12-6 out of these three every night I think it will go a long way toward lowering our guard dependence.
I am cutting this short because I am still not feeling all that well. But now we have a tricky road game against a pretty good Xavier team. It is always good to play your toughest non-conference game away from home because if you win it, it is that much stronger for your profile. That is what we face now in the Musketeers. To get to know them, feel free to visit Banners On The Parkway, another quality SB Nation site.