The Byrd Cage

The Mont vs. Tennessee State Part Trois (That means three)

In Game Posts on March 8, 2013 at 8:49 am

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Yes… Here we are. It’s officially tournament time once again for the Bruins who find themselves in a familiar position: the favorite heading into the conference tournament. Unlike the ASUN, the OVC tournament set up actually makes sense. Rather than playing a true road game against the 7 seed in round one, the Bruins got a free ride to the semifinals. Thus, the Mont will need just two wins lock themselves into a spot in the dance. The first of those two wins must come against Tennessee State tonight. (Potentially underrated story: The Bruins will be walking into Municipal absolutely cold. While State has had a chance to wet their feet in a new environment, Belmont will not share that luxury. For a team that thrives on shooting the basketball, a foreign shooting background could pose problems).

Lauded by the staff at the Cage as probably the most talented team top to bottom in the Valley, the Tigers will cause plenty of problems for the Bruins. State boasts 4 double-digit scorers, a potential NBA player in Robert Covington, and the most intense coach in the OVC (Just ask our own Bert Reynolds (pronounced bUrt), who almost shat his pants while interviewing Coach Williams at OVC media days).

However, we shouldn’t waste too much time going through the stuff you already know about State. You really want to dig into what the first two games means for the grudge match. Here’s what I’ll tell you: I don’t know. One game we shot well and in one game we didn’t. Covington played in one game, and in one game he didn’t. We won at our place (w/o Covington) and they won at their place. For all intents and purposes, these teams are pretty even and we should expect an entertaining game with plenty of quality basketball.

Although, there are some things I couldn’t help but notice, particularly in the 2nd game between the two teams; Belmont either shot like poop, or with poop. It’s hard to know. The Bruins were a hapless 5-26 from beyond the arc in the game and saw Ian Clark make zero, I repeat, zero threes the entire game. What’s more, the Tigers made twice as many free throws as the Bruins attempted. Also, Robert Covington went bananas making 7 of his 9 field goal attempts and all 8 of his free throws for 25 points. With that said, the Bruins were hardly blown out. Despite trailing most of the game, they pulled even with 5 minutes left, then fell behind again and watched State bury free throws on the way to the house.

Is this a positive spin on a loss? Yes. Is it cautiously optimistic? Of course. That’s like asking if Murry Bartow doesn’t know how to coach basketball. That answer is always yes. The fact is, Tennessee State is the type of team that can get to the Bruins’ weak spots. We noted the foul discrepancy in the 2nd match up on State’s home floor. Was this because we got homered? No (But we really can’t rule it out can we? I’m about as sold on the OVC officiating as I am on Lipscomb ever becoming a relevant basketball program). As Nick pointed out, the Tigers get to the line at an alarming rate and the Bruins put people on the line at an equally staggering amount. It will certainly be a cause for concern. Also, and I know this is hard to remember when watching OVC basketball, but good teams make open shots. As Belmont fans, we are more accustom to watching teams get open looks and clank them against the partitions in the student section. This is not the case with the Tigers. They are the 3rd most efficient offense in the OVC and shoot well enough from both inside and outside the arc.

Ultimately, this game will be about Belmont making three point shots, keeping the Tigers off the line, and neutralizing Covington. None will be easy, but all are very doable. If an at-large bid does become necessary, the Bruins must at least see themselves into the finals. Cheer hard and check back with the Cage for either unbridled elation or pure bitterness depending on how the weekend shakes out.

– Jono

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  1. #winthedamngame

  2. As you mentioned, out of all our opponents this year, TSU is definitely the most impressive top to bottom. DiNunno is impressive no doubt. Isaiah is a walking nightmare. But TSU seems to have it all. That being said, I think our loss to them was an ‘off night’. If we can bring our A-Game and not fall into any 5-8 minute slumps – I think we’ve got this. Also worried about it being 6 days since we’ve played a game.

  3. Let me add this little nugget. Municipal Middle School Auditorium’s basketball set-up is a nightmare for shooters. The seats are set so far back from the court. Depth perception is an issue. Should be two solid contests tonight.

  4. Not having a played a game in that joke of a venue makes me a little anxious. No time to get your feet wet. New (poor) shooting backgrounds are not fun.

  5. TSU also shot 52% from the floor on Valentine’s Day – that’s about 9 points better than their season average. Also, State plays eight guys consistently. Look for RB to go to the bench early and cycle guys in and out often. Holden Mobley is our secret weapon.

  6. I would be proud to call this school our new conference rivals. Same city. Great coaching. Great talent. (Lipscomb I think we’ve met somebody else)

  7. ^ This

  8. Lipscomb is so good. And they’re christians, so when we play it’s more like fellowship.

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