Shooting free throws is, well, free. Making sure to take care of business before looking ahead to a big game is, well, important. Playing a difficult non-conference schedule is only good if you win the games you should.
Shall I go on or can you tell what what is being described from that first paragraph? It was one of those nights where you throw away the tape and move on. It is hard to describe so let’s try as we look at all four games played on Tuesday night.
Louisiana Monroe 82, Stephen F. Austin 69
Tuesday night was a trap game. Simple as that. The Lumberjacks were coming off a good win over Liberty on Saturday. And SFA travels to Lawrence to take on No. 7 Kansas this Saturday. Louisiana Monroe took full advantage of that opportunity at Johnson Coliseum. Nika Metskhvarishvili led the Warhawks with 21 points. Metskhvarishvili also hit four of ULM’s 11 3-pointers in the contest.
Had it not been for Latrell Jossell’s big second half, this game would have been even uglier. SFA trailed by 11 at the half and up until about midway through the second half, had hit just one 3-pointer. In fact, Jossell hit all seven 3-pointers for the Lumberjacks who fell to 8-3 overall. Jossell finished with a game-high 28 points. Gavin Kensmil was the only other Lumberjack in double figures with 19 points.
Those trap games cause a lot of problems. And SFA got caught looking ahead instead of taking care of business at home as a 12-point favorite.
THREEEEE ? @Latrelljossell4
2H 9:15 | ULM 57, SFA 52
— SFA Men’s Basketball (@SFA_MBB) December 15, 2021
South Alabama 69, Tarleton 62
Once upon a time, many folks thought that Tarleton was going to be a force to be reckoned with come WAC play. That conspiracy began in response to the Texans playing the most difficult non-conference schedule in America to begin the 2021-22 season. Taking Gonzaga to the brink in The Kennel also helped fuel that fire.
However, the Texans have now lost to a Charleston Southern team with a KenPom sub-300 ranking. And at South Alabama who has a KenPom ranking of 175. In both losses, Tarleton barely eclipsed the 60-point mark. And the lack of size is starting to catch up. South Alabama pulled down 40 rebounds tonight. Tarleton had just 23 boards. Tahj Small had 24 points and Montré Gipson had 19. But no other Texan was in double figures. Going 4-17 from beyond the arc with a lack of size is not going to get it done.
Tarleton has another shot to get its first Division I win on Friday when these two teams meet again in Wisdom Gym.
North Texas 65, Sam Houston 55
Free throws are free as college basketball enthusiast Tony Patelis says all the time. Unfortunately, missing free throws can ruin a comeback bid. It sure did for Sam Houston on Tuesday night. Imagine losing a game by 10 points and looking at the stat sheet that says you were 3-15 from the charity stripe. Head coach Jason Hooten has to be scratching his head. Sure, Savion Flagg got his game high 20 points. But what good are those points if your star player goes 2-9 from the free throw line? And like the announcers said, the shot looked rushed and almost like he was throwing it up there hoping it would go in.
For what it is worth, Flagg isn’t solely to blame. North Texas is pretty good defensively as they set their goal to hold opponents to around 55 points. Only four teams have scored over 55 points against the Mean Green. And of those four, only two have scored over 60. But, Sam Houston had opportunities. The Bearkats cut the lead to three late in the second half. And got stops on the defensive end. But couldn’t hit free throws with the clock stopped to cut into the deficit or even take a lead. Jaden Ray was the only other Bearkat in double figures with 10 points.
Next up for the Bearkats is a non-DI foe in Hardin Simmons on Saturday.
Texas Southern 70, UTRGV 60
Not much to say about this contest. UTRGV trailed nearly the entire game and struggled to get stops on the defensive end. RayQuan Taylor had a career night for UTRGV, finishing with 16 points and six rebounds. Unfortunately for Matt Figger and Company, no other Vaquero was in double figures. LaQuan Butler finished with nine points. UTRGV hit seven 3-pointers in the loss. But not much more can be said about this one from Bert Ogden Arena.
UTRGV has now lost five straight since winning on back-to-back nights two weeks ago. The Vaqueros are on the road Friday at UTSA before finishing up non-conference play with a non-DI opponent on Dec. 21 in Edinburg.
— UTRGV Men’s Basketball (@UTRGVmbb) December 15, 2021