Notes and thoughts from a 90-76 win over Northwestern State. …
A good win over a quality opponent, I thought.
Of course, it wasn’t Duke, but Northwestern State, like a lot of mid-majors, has a couple of good players just not a ton of depth.
NSU led the nation in scoring last year not because they have talent across the board but because they’ve got two guys that can really scores and guys around them who know their roles.
The Demons had two guys average 42 points last year, and those guys showed up again. Jalan West had 25 – He was 6-for-7 from 3-point range in the second half – and Zeek Woodley had 22.
Beyond that NSU had one other guy in double figures, barely, with 11 points.
The tragedy of the night was West’s injury late in the game. He wasn’t able to walk off on his own power and was carried off the court by two teammates. No word on what the injury is or West’s status moving forward. It would be a devastating loss for NSU if he’s out for any amount of time.
The Northwestern State SID is a friend, and he had no news to share, but they’re bracing for the worst. West is a senior. If he’s out for the year his career is done.
Ole Miss did a defensive number on the Demons early as NSU was unable to get West and Woodley going.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy wanted to see better defense than the Rebels showed last week when Division II Clayton State scored 87 in the Rebels’ 103-87 exhibition win.
Energy was good early for Ole Miss, and NSU missed its first 13 shots. Ole Miss built a lead of 12 points in the half, but the Demons found some rhythm on offense and got that down to six at the break.
They were never able to overtake the Rebels, but the Rebels were not able to get comfortable until the back end of the second half.
The Demons kept hanging around – five points back, three points back – and there were strong memories of last year’s 66-65 opening night overtime loss to Charleston Southern.
I looked down at one point in the game and saw that Stefan Moody was 4-for-15 from the floor, not good. Moody, though, has the eternal green light that Kennedy gives his best players. He kept shooting and got some shots to fall. He finished 10-for-23 from the floor (43 percent) including 4-for-11 from 3-point range (36.3 percent), not outstanding percentages but better than average.
I was seeing some of these guys for the first time and was impressed with Sam Finley. It wasn’t like he was playing Duke in the opener, but NSU has some talent, and Finley showed poise in the second half when the game could have turned the other way. He had a field goal and six free throws in the decisive second-half run.
NSU had game-long pressure, but it was loose pressure, not in-your-face and try to take it from you every possession kind of pressure. He handled himself well and had just one turnover in 28 minutes.
Finley looks comfortable with the ball and can get to the rim when he sees an angle.
Rasheed Brooks, another junior college transfer, had a good night. He was 3-for-4 from the 3-point line – All the shots he attempted were 3s – and finished with 11 points. He had a nice sequence early in the second half with a blocked shot on the defensive end and a 3-pointer on the next offensive trip.
Marcanvis Hymon was impressive. Ole Miss always need help rebounding. Maybe he’s a guy that can bring it. He had six rebounds, three on each end, in 11 minutes. It will be interesting to see how he moves against bigger opponents. He had the want-to, and that’s the biggest part of rebounding.
There were a couple of key shots by Anthony Perez. If he can figure it out it will be a big plus, but I wouldn’t plan around that. If it happens it’s bonus coverage.
Not a good night for Tomasz Gielo. We here tales about him being a great 3-point shooter. The numbers at Liberty support that theory, and so did his exhibition box score when he was 3-for-5 from 3 and had 15 points in 25 minutes.
Kennedy was unconcerned. He told Gielo he’ll take those looks any time.
Hopefully Gielo will knock down some early shots and gain some confidence when the Rebels get back on the floor Monday night against Georgia Southern.