Arkansas Tech 87, Harding 82 (OT)
It doesn’t get much more simple than this: had Harding taken care of the basketball in the last few minutes of regulation and in overtime, they would be 10-2 and have clinched at least a tie for the division lead.
Despite a solid all-around shooting performance (even with virtually no production from Matt Hall), the Bisons’ alarming 27.3 turnover ratio proved to be the deciding factor in the game. Steven Barnett had 12 turnovers, posting a double-double of sorts alongside his 17 points. He wasn’t the only one having problems, though. Pretty much everyone who handles the ball a lot turned it over a lot, with both Hall and Trent Morgan committing 6 turnovers.
Morgan led the team with 21 points, and he is becoming an increasingly reliable second scoring option. Chris Dixon had been making strides in that area, but he fouled out in just 11 minutes on the floor and was limited to 5 points. Kevin Brown added a double-double, with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes.
Chad Henderson’s 24 led the Wonder Boys in scoring, although Jamar Flowers was the star in overtime. Laithe Massey had 5 steals coming off the bench, and every other ATU player who logged at least 20 minutes had two or more steals.
The loss to Tech was frustrating, but it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be rectified with a big win over Henderson State…
Harding 72, Henderson State 59
The turnover problems virtually disappeared in this game, which probably wasn’t expected to be a close one. CSTV viewers were treated to a great performance by Matt Hall, who had 18 points and 5 assists despite being hounded with pressure the entire game. That’s par for the course with Hall, though, and those assists showed a strong ability to find the right player for the shot after HSU would rotate another man over to guard him.
Four other Bisons scored in double figures, with Kevin Brown having the next most impressive showing. While he had some highlight-material offensive plays, he also contributed two blocks and four steals, playing outstanding defense throughout the game. It was great to see him get 29 minutes of game time, and I’m hoping he’ll only get better.
Chris Dixon, Jesse Bynum, and Trent Morgan had 12, 11, and 10 points, respectively. Morgan performed admirably on both ends of the floor, running the point quite well while Steven Barnett wasn’t on the floor. I think he can handle that role on at least a shared-time basis with Barnett, which could be a way to get Brown on the floor more often (since Morgan and Barnett wouldn’t have to be on the floor together most of the time).
Bynum also played extended minutes, and he didn’t disappoint offensively, stepping out for a couple of long threes (though at least one was ill-advised). Defense is a question mark for him, but with Brown, Dixon, Hall, and Morgan on the floor playing soft around the perimeter and helping inside, I don’t think it was noticeable. The defense’s performance would have looked even better if HSU didn’t go on a 9-0 run to finish the game against the Bisons’ benchwarmers.
The defense will probably have to use a different approach next weekend against Christian Brothers, which is a strong three-point shooting team, but it worked well against HSU (and probably will against SAU). The Bisons have the best TS% defense in the division right now.
Elsewhere in the GSC
Harding leads the GSC West now at 9-3, giving them at least a chance to clinch it on Thursday at SAU. Ouachita and CBU have separated themselves from the rest of the teams, now at 8-4, while Arkansas Tech, Delta State, and UAM are all 7-5. One of those three will be left out of the tournament, which should make this an exciting week.
I’m going to play around with the stats today with the goal of having all the pages fully updated by tomorrow.