An already-thin Bison lineup went up against a team with something to prove on Saturday night and met an equal match. Missouri S&T went 3-24 last year, but behind a handful of young returnees and some new talent, they took the first game of this season’s home-and-home series by a final (double-OT) score of 93-80.
The Bisons finished the game with the minimum of five players available to play, leaving themselves a Kirk Porter foul away from having a short-handed team on the floor. Point guard Steven Barnett sat early in the game with two fouls and eventually fouled out with 19 points and 5 rebounds. My usual chorus at this point is to “let them play with two fouls in the first half,” but it wouldn’t have mattered in this game, with its two extra frames. Kevin Brown managed just 20 minutes on the floor, scoring 12 and leading the team with five turnovers. Reserves Calvin Rayford and Brian Howard also fouled out, but the latter had a productive game: a double-double including a team-leading total of 13 rebounds in 29 minutes of play.
Trent Morgan led the team in minutes with 41 and was the leading scorer with 21 points, although it took him 19 field goal attempts (and four free throws) to get there. Barnett was arguably the most efficient scorer, making over half of his shot attempts while still scoring reasonably often. He would have been on track for over 30 points if he could have stayed on the floor for 40 minutes.
As in the UALR exhibition, the Bisons struggled from long range, making just 6 of 23 3-point shots. Sam Brown was the biggest brick culprit, making just 1-of-8 threes, and missing his only 2-point attempt on top of that.
The Miners attempted more free throws than the Bisons due to a slight foul disparity, although they probably didn’t take full advantage of them, shooting just 22-of-34 from the stripe. S&T had five players score in double figures, including a double-double from Adam Knollmeyer, who had 15 rebounds (leading both teams). The Miners out-rebounded the Bisons overall, although both teams struggled considerably for second chances. The turnover bug honestly bit both teams equally, so that shouldn’t have played a huge factor in the outcome.
It was an evenly matched game by most accounts…the Miners just outlasted the Bisons in the second OT.
Next up is the home opener against Champion Baptist on Thursday, so we’ll probably get to see plenty of the reserve players. The rematch against S&T is in Searcy on December 9.