On a huge Monday, UNCG opened up the race for the regular season title. Mercer pulled away in the race for sixth.
It was not two shocking results, but the ease with which UNCG won was really impressive. Samford is struggling, but there should be no real questions about ETSU at this point.
ETSU is good. UNCG is good. Mercer is rising. Samford is falling. That sums it up.
UNCG 74, ETSU 56
What Happened? Ummmm…something strange? ETSU has not played like that in recent months. The Spartans jumped out to a commanding early lead, but ETSU had trimmed the lead to two by halftime and it looked like they had weathered the storm. But the storm was just starting. The Bucs only scored 25 points in the second half and the Spartans scored 41. The Bucs rebounded well, but their shooting was off all night long as they shot just 30% from the floor.
Stat of the Game: The Spartans shot 49% from the floor and 55% from three. In other words, the Bucs elite defense did not travel to Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans were shooting lights out in this one and against the Bucs defense that was remarkable.
Player of the Game: So many to choose from, and Francis Alonso was great, but I want to highlight Demetrius Troy. He went 6 of 8 from the floor and 4 of 4 from three. He wound up with 17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal. Troy was huge in this one.
What does it mean to ETSU? A lot. And nothing. The Bucs chances at an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament PROBABLY just went away. The longest winning streak in the country is over. They visit Western Carolina on Saturday, but that is their last road game of the season. Furman and Wofford could beat them in Johnson City. If the Bucs win out, they win the regular season title. One more loss brings the Spartans right back into it. It seems likely that the Spartans would win a tiebreaker. The Bucs do not want that. I think it is safe to say that ETSU is the most consistent team in the SoCon…
What does it mean to UNCG? …but I think it is also safe to say that the Spartans have a higher ceiling than the Bucs. They are more likely to lose to someone they have no business losing to in Asheville, but if you put the Spartans in a one game setting, they may well be the better team. The Spartans go to The Citadel, Mercer and Wofford still. Are they going to lose one of those? It would be a little surprising if they did not. The Spartans are still the favorite to get the two seed, but probably can not get to the one seed. Regardless, they are very dangerous in Asheville.
Mercer 74, Samford 69
What Happened? Jordan Strawberry made a big shot in the final minute and a half and Ross Cummings made a layup in the final minute to put the game out of reach for the Bears. They were up by just one at that point, but lead pretty much throughout. The Bears came up with the critical road win to really put them in good position for the six seed.
Stat of the Game: Samford, who is playing their best when they are knocking down threes, went just 6 of 27 from long range. That struggle made it very difficult for the Bulldogs to come up with the win on this night.
Player of the Game: Jordan Strawberry scored 18 points with 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. Strawberry made 6 of 13 from the floor.
What does it mean to Mercer? Hello, sixth place! The Bears now lead The Citadel and Samford both by two games. They trail Western Carolina by one game for fifth place. Their schedule is not easy from here on out, having to host UNCG and Western Carolina and go to The Citadel and Wofford, but with Ria’n Holland due back soon, this team is looking more and more like a team that could go on a run in Asheville.
What does it mean to Samford? The Bulldogs are now 2-9 in their last eleven games and appear heading towards missing the sixth spot in the conference tournament. They have just three conference games remaining (host Furman and at VMI and at UNCG) and need to win a game or two to avoid the 8-9 first round game. The Bulldogs are still struggling. Demetrius Denzel-Dyson scored just three in this one. He needs to be better than that.