Nick Kohs was hurt during the Bisons’ first matchup with Christian Brothers a month ago in Memphis, but he was back in form for Saturday night’s game in Searcy. His 15 points and 8 rebounds were key to the Buccaneers’ 76-71 win, which claimed the second spot in the GSC West standings for them, almost certainly forcing Harding to win the conference tournament in order to reach the NCAAs. Harding takes the #3 spot in the division, thanks to Henderson State’s earlier win over Delta State. On Friday, the Bisons will face the #2 team in the GSC East, a position claimed by Valdosta State in their triple-overtime win over West Florida earlier tonight.
Before we get to all that, here are the stats from this one:
The Bisons didn’t really play great defense, as evidenced by the Bucs’ 59.4 TS%, and they were simply unable to force turnovers. On the other hand, the Bucs didn’t play great defense, either, and Harding only turned it over 11 times. The real difference in the game, and this is totally inexplicable, was free throw shooting. The Bisons have been outstanding at the line all year, making over 75% coming into this game, but they made just 14 of 28 free throws in a terribly frustrating performance from the stripe. In every other aspect of the game, this was the even contest pretty much everyone expected.
Matt Hall was not the Bisons’ leading scorer for the second game in a row, which is quite a troubling thought. He’s limping into the postseason having not attempted 10 shots in either of Harding’s final two games. With him not playing well and without Rick Hamilton (who has not played in either of those games), it doesn’t matter how much scoring the Bisons get from Andrepont (20), Bibb (14), Kee (11) or anyone else. Fifteen for Hall just won’t cut it. The Bisons absolutely must get him the ball if they’re not going to lose to Valdosta State.
I don’t mean to overlook the performances of Bibb and Andrepont, both of whom were quite good in their final home game at Harding. Those seniors were a combined 12-of-19 from the field and 6-of-10 from long range. Bibb even dished out seven assists with just a single turnover. If Hall can bounce back and let these guys keep their rhythm, I like the Bisons in the GSC Tournament.
The GSC Tournament
Speaking of the GSC Tournament, you can get the schedule as well as live stats for each game from the conference’s tournament home page. It’s a shame they don’t do this during the regular season. It would save me a lot of work.
Wednesday’s games will have Delta State matching up against Alabama-Huntsville, with the winner facing Henderson State on Friday. Ouachita Baptist will play West Georgia in the other mid-week game, with that game’s winner playing Montevallo on Friday. Four other teams, including Harding, will get their tournament action underway on Friday, with the Bisons playing Valdosta State (2:45 CT) and Christian Brothers facing North Alabama.
I’ll be driving to Memphis on Friday regardless of whether or not Harding makes it to Saturday’s games. My wife’s grandparents live there, so we’ll be hanging out with them and (hopefully) going to see the Bisons on Saturday and Sunday. That means I won’t have daily updates for you starting with Friday’s games, but you can use the link above to get live stats. I’ll have a full report hopefully next Monday.