What? A game review the day after the game? Is this 2005 or something? Believe me, I’m as surprised as you are. Once you get your head around the idea that I’m actually doing a somewhat timely review, we have some game action to break down.
The Bisons basically did what they’ve been doing all year, shooting relatively well and preventing the other team from doing so, only they did the best job they’ve done all season.
In some ways, this was a sloppy game. The Bisons turned it over nearly a quarter of the time, helped along by 6 turnovers each from ballhandlers Trent Morgan and Steven Barnett. Luckily, they were able to stay with the Statesmen in rebounding and punish them for their tendency to foul. Over a third of the Bisons’ 90 points were scored at the free throw line, where the team made 32 of 38 shots, including 11 of 12 by Matt Hall.
A quick aside: making free throws is one thing Matt has done exceptionally well, not because he shoots for the best percentage (he doesn’t: 74%), but because even when he’s not shooting well from the field, he can efficiently score points by driving to the basket, drawing a foul, and making some shots. Harding has 4 players in the league’s top 7 in free throw attempts per field goal attempt; Hall is #7, but he has played more than any of the other leaders. Only CBU’s Nick Kohs has even attempted (139) as many FTs as Hall has made (131).
The end result of all of those fouls – 30 by Delta State – was a huge Bison win, and a huge final margin in true shooting percentage. Hall had 30 points and Chris Dixon topped his career high with 25 (on just 10 field goal attempts). If Dixon can become a reliable second scorer, with 15 or so points per game, the Bisons should have enough firepower to finish what they started and win this division.
Around the GSC
Four teams are now tied for third in the West at 5-4 after Harding’s win, OBU’s win at UAM, and Christian Brothers’ win over Arkansas Tech. While the latter two teams face the division’s bottom-dwellers tomorrow night, UAM will visit Delta State, with the loser presumably falling to sixth place.
Next Up for HU
Harding will travel to face OBU in a game that will possibly decide the division. With the Bisons now leading the conference in net efficiency, I can definitively say that they’re playing like the best team, but their lead is not enough over OBU to suggest this will be anything but a very close game. I’d call it a dead heat with Ouachita’s home-court advantage.