By Jake Moore, Men’s Basketball Beat Writer
In game one of the the Mocs’ three-game weekend road trip–despite a 19 point performance by Freshman forward Kevin Easley, Indianapolis, Ind.–the Mocs fell to the Southern Alabama Jaguars, 75-53..
Easley has displayed scoring reliability so far this season for the Mocs not only in sheer volume but also for accuracy. Tonight, Easley finished with 19 points shooting just under 60 percent from the field. Easley also had five rebounds, two steals, one block and one assists.
Donovann Toatley, Upper Marlboro, MD., also showed moments of promise Friday night. Toatley continues to prove his value to the team through his ball handling and vision. Toatley finished the night with 11 points, 6 rebounds 3 assists and one block.
Thomas Smallwood, Bordeaux, France, was halted by the Jaguars defense following his 18 point double-double game last Tuesday. The Jaguars held Smallwood to just four points on Friday night, the lowest scoring game he has had this season. Smallwood was 0-3 from deep and just 2-9 inside the line.
However, Smallwood still managed to grab rebounds efficiently, finishing the night with seven total.
Shooting was major part of the Mocs defeat Saturday night. They shot just over six percent from 3PT range and just under 30 percent from inside the paint and midrange.
“We had a number of good shots both from three and around the basket we didn’t finish.” Coach Lamont Paris said “We cut it to 12…make a couple of shots and stops and 12 becomes eight. Eight’s nothing.”
Fouls and turnover were another major issue that the Mocs faced tonight. With the 25 fouls and 13 turnovers. The Mocs gave the Jaguars to many opportunities to get to the rim.
“Young guys don’t handle adversity as well as more experienced guys in general.” Paris said “It would have taken a special team to overcome that shooting performance.”
Game two of the Alabama road trip ended in a 63-42 loss to the Southeast Missouri Redhawks.
The Mocs cold shooting stroke continued into this game, finishing the night with a field goal percentage just over 25 percent and a three-point percentage just below 17 percent.
Jerry Johnson Jr., Memphis, Tenn., lead the team in scoring against SEMO. He finished the game with 12 points.
“Jerry Johnson did a really good job of creating good looks for guys throughout the game.” Paris said “He hand-delivered good shots, we just didn’t make them. Obviously, it was not a good offensive performance looking at the numbers. If you dig beyond the numbers, there were a couple of good things.”
Definsley the Mocs showed promise. Johnson had two steals. Justin Brown, Chicago, and Thomas Smallwood, Bordeaux, France, combined for 11 rebounds.
“I thought we did enough defensively tonight to win.” Paris said There were some points in transition, but that’s in large part to our inability to get the ball in the basket.”
While the Mocs dropped the third game on their road trip to Jacksonville, 74-66, the team showed improvement from their first two outings in Alabama.
In the first half, it appeared as if the Mocs shooting woes were going to carry over this game. They went 9-28 from the field in the first half, not a great percentage. However, the Mocs in second half showed vast improvement in accuracy with a field goal from percentage of just over 52 and three-point percentage of 50 percent.
The most accurate shooter against Jacksonville was Jerry Johnson Jr. once again. As he drained 5 of his nine attempted shots.
“The first two games, we couldn’t find our rhythm.” Johnson said “We felt a big uptick when the ball started falling in the second half.”
The first half of action was a close affair, however defensive issues cost the Mocs the game in the second half.
“You can’t change from one half to the other that drastically. We held them to 24 in the first half and then they get 50 in the second.” Paris said “They got more aggressive driving the ball, but we knew that coming in that their plan was to attack the rim. We were focused on trying to stop that. In the first half we did that…we were active with it. The second half we weren’t.”
The Mocs end the Goldie & Herman Ungar Classic without a win. The Mocs will brace for the cold as they head to Ann Arbor, Michigan to face the 18 ranked Michigan Wolverines.