Ten days ago, I would have been thrilled with a 1-1 record to start MAC play against arguably the top two teams in the conference so far this season. After a win slipped away at home against Akron and UB pretty much controlled throughout against Kent, I am indeed thrilled, as UB has played its best ball over the last three games and looks like a team that can hang with everyone.
1. Willie Conner
I didn't have video for this one, but Conner's move away from the three ball has turned him into a go-to producer on this team. It's for me a shocking turnaround from his early season form. To put it into perspective: Over the last three games Willie has scored 61 points on 16-25 shooting from the floor and 23-25 from the line.
2. Post defense
I simply would have never believed you if you told me UB would hold Jimmy Hall to 10 points and render him a nonfactor in the second half. Kent scored plenty from the paint, so they weren't avoiding the area like Akron did, but their three starting post players scored only 20 points on 21 shots.
3. Strength of Schedule
I just really want to hammer this home: Akron and Kent were the clear top two teams in the conference after OOC play and for 74 minutes against the two this week, UB was the better team. I put a lot of stock in KenPom for a few reasons, and before this week he had the Zips #1 and the Flashes #2 in the MAC by clear margins. After those upper tiers, it's a tight clump of five or six. To go 1-1 against that pair is to my eyes a strong showing after an up and down OOC slate is significant.
Of course, now EMU, UB's next opponent, has climbed out of the sub-Akron pack according to Pomeroy. Another game that could tell us a lot.
Player of the Game: Lamonte Bearden
I don't think it was his best ball, because turnovers were a bit high, but this was a bigtime showing for the guard, one of those games when you can tell the team's leader will refuse to lose. I'm glad to see Bearden seem to take on that mantle.
1. We're looking like a team that can contend for the MACC.
If this team continues to play the way they've been, a top four seed isn't out of the question in my opinion. Almost beating the favorite and having complete control on what everyone has perceived as the number two team in the conference is huge. Hopefully this is a sign of great things to come. This is the kind of team I thought we would have minus Ikenna playing so well at this point in the season.
2. We still won despite turnovers and foul trouble.
20 turnovers and five guys with 3 or more fouls usually spells doom. It's amazing that we still had most of the control throughout the game. I think that goes back to Matt's point on interior defense and how Jimmy Hall only scored two points in the second half. Without the great defense we played, I think it easily could've been a 15 point swing in Kent's favor because of all the turnovers we had.
3. Shooting has dramatically improved since VCU
- Shooting on the year so far: 42%
- Shooting at VCU: 51.1%
- vs. Delaware: 50%
- vs. Akron: 45.5%
- at Kent: 51.5%