The Bisons lost 72-55 last night in Conway, thanks to a startling display of poor shooting by a number of Bison regulars. Lonnie Smith was held to a season-low 8 points. He made just 2 of 14 shots from the field, missing all four of his attempts from inside the arc. Cole Kee led the Bisons with 12, but he only made 5 of 14 shots (2-of-9 from outside). Patrick Andrepont was 3-for-10, and Alassane Savadogo was shut out in four tries. The keys explain the game a bit better:
|Eff||79.3||100.3||-21.0||Actual net efficiency|
|-23.7||Predicted net efficiency|
Ceso Sprewell and Steven Barnett really were the only Bisons who had moderately good games, but neither touched the ball enough to have a big impact on the offensive end. The shooting edge for UCA proved to be a killer, since turnovers were a wash and the rebounding edge went to Harding. This Bears team lacks a go-to scorer, but they got enough to pull out an easy home win. The Bisons defense will have to improve and improve fast, since they probably need to win all four remaining conference games (vs. Christian Brothers, at Ouachita Baptist, vs. Arkansas Tech, at Henderson State) to get a spot in the conference tournament.
If you ask me, the Bisons look defeated when they step onto the court. Their only confidence right now is in the 3-point shot, which hasn’t fallen enough to justify using it as a primary weapon. Lonnie, Cole, and Patrick take bad shot after bad shot after bad shot, and practically the whole team looks lost defensively (except Ceso and Steven). The rebounding effort has improved, but this team is going to have to put it all together in a hurry if they don’t want to miss out on the postseason. I think they may already be mailing it in, so they’ll have to prove me wrong.
I’m spoiled by having entered Harding the year we went to the NCAA Tournament, and now I’ve come to expect it every year. That doesn’t change my expectation; I’m just explaining the reason. If I’m going to invest a lot of effort into being a fan, I expect the players to give the same effort. This team is capable of making a run. Now they just have to believe it and do it.
Elsewhere around the GSC, Henderson State gained a game on the Bisons with a 59-53 win at Christian Brothers. OBU snapped their home losing streak with a big 19-point win over Arkansas Tech. Then, nationally-ranked #9 Delta State had to put up a big rally to overcome Southern Arkansas on the road, 67-63. DSU lost high-flying forward Jeremy Richardson to an injury in their previous win over UAM, and it seems to have brought them back to Earth a bit. They may be beatable without Richardson, who was really their only effective outside scorer. They are a far more one-dimensional team without him, so they may have a tough road if he doesn’t return.
The updated conference standings: