HAMPTON vs. APP STATE GAME PREVIEW

Appalachian State will play their final non-conference game of the season at home against Hampton with a chance to work their schedule back to 5-6. A determined but inefficient home win over James Madison finally saw the Mountaineers start making two-point baskets to go along with the best three-point shooting in six seasons. Can App State get off to a fast start after numerous slow beginnings?

It wasn’t pretty until overtime, but Appalachian State found a way to survive at the end of a close game, which is a critical step forward.

In the final five minutes of games where the lead has been within five points either way, including the James Madison win, App State has shot just 17% from the floor and 60% at the free-throw line for only 26 points. 11 of those came against JMU.

Not surprisingly with those numbers, the Mountaineers were winless in the first three of those games. Only a buzzer-beating three-pointer against JMU sent the game to overtime, or the record would be 0-4 in those games.

But, then, once Appalachian got into overtime they suddenly found a spark and the bottom of their basket again. The Mountaineers went 5-6 from inside the arc and outscored James Madison 14-2 in the extra session to claim a much-needed 73-61 home win.

With Hampton next to visit App State, will the overtime dominance manifest itself into the kind of offensive production that the Mountaineers enjoyed to start the season?

HAMPTON PIRATES

Jermaine Marrow: The small-ish guard (6’0’) uses his quickness and savvy to lead Hampton in scoring at 14.8 per game. What’s even more interesting about it, given his height, is that you would assume he’s been dominant on the perimeter, yet he’s just a 29% shooter from the arc. 99 shot attempts have come inside the line, so get ready to deal with him off the dribble.

Lawrence Cooks: The 6’1” guard is the outside shooting contrast to Marrow’s attacking style. Cooks leads the Pirates in three-pointers made and nearly 62% of his attempts come from behind the arc. Despite his lack of height, Cooks is also a deceptively effective rebounder thanks to hustle and a nose for the ball.

A.J. Astroth: Physical 6’6”, 200 lb. transfer nearly averages a double-double (9.8 points and 8.0 rebounds) and is very active around the basket. Astroth is a face-up offensive player who will use his mobility to get to the free-throw line and is also a very effective offensive rebounder (nearly 40% of his boards), so get a body on him.

Trevond Barnes: Only Barnes and Cooks have started every game for Hampton, so far. Slender and 6’9”, Barnes is very efficient offensively from almost everywhere on the court, shooting 58% from the floor AND the three-point line, but also shooting 58% at the free-throw line. He sounds a lot like either of App’s Johnsons, due to his activity and athleticism.

Kalin Fisher/Charles Wilson-Fisher/Devon Oakley: These three add another 15 points to the low-scoring Hampton lineup. Wilson-Fisher is 6’9” and is second on the team in rebounding. Neither Fisher or Oakley are particularly effective shooters, but for the 38%-shooting Pirates nobody would be described as lights-out.

APP STATE MOUNTAINEERS

Ronshad Shabazz: Shabazz is just one of those players that needs to be intent about scoring points. He’s got the versatility to score from anywhere on the court and needs to embrace that role at all times. He has in the past three games, where App State has gone 2-1, and Shabazz has averaged 17.3 points on 44% shooting.

Emarius Logan: Logan’s best game of the season came at just the right time for both Logan and Appalachian. Seven points and six assists in the Mountaineers’ overtime win were big for Logan, who has struggled to put together effective back-to-back performances. He now leads App State in assists and has a 1.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Griffin Kinney: Kinney had an effective game against JMU, with 13 points, four rebounds, and two steals. Over the past three games Kinney is scoring 10.3 points, which adds an important element to App State’s offense around the basket. His scoring threat forces teams to respect the post offense enough to create space for outside shooters.

Kelvin Robinson: Robinson has been consistently fearless as a freshman, as evidenced by his game-tying shot against James Madison. Just three of his previous 13 attempts from the floor, Robinson never thought twice and nailed a shot that was more important than any other to date for App State. Against Hampton, his defense may be as important as the scoring.

Tyrell Johnson: Johnson continues to struggle with his shooting at 39% for the season. The issue is with finishing, but he’s still getting high-quality looks. JMU featured physical post defenders and Johnson simply hasn’t converted well against contact this season. He did block three shots in the JMU win, but his offensive role may change if he can’t start scoring.

Isaac Johnson: Johnson’s 0-3 shooting day against James Madison was extremely unusual for him, after shooting over 60% from the floor year-to-date. Still, Johnson’s attacking mentality and typically effective ability to finish have been valuable, and he presents match-up problems for Hampton which lacks post depth.

Pat Good: Good came into the second half of the James Madison game 1-12 from the floor in the past two-and-a-half games. But, shooters have short memories. Good went 4-4 in the second half, including three three-pointers, and exploded out of his shooting slump. With Hampton’s smaller back court Good should have opportunities to score.

Jake Babic: Babic played a lesser role against JMU, thanks in large part to a strong game from Logan and the hot-hand of Good. Still, Babic brings length and vision to the offense, not to mention also having the best shooting season of his Appalachian career. One area Babic needs to start influencing again is playmaking, where he has just six assists in the past five games.

Jake Wilson/Matt O’Boyle/Craig Hinton: The anticipated tightening of the playing rotation was evident against JMU. Wilson, O’Boyle, and Hinton combined for just 17 minutes, with Hinton starting to establish himself as the more likely candidate for extra burn. Hinton’s versatility on the defensive end has helped his minutes.

GAME ANALYSIS

For the third time this season App State will play one of the nation’s lowest scoring teams, at just 62.8 points per game or #332 in D-I. Thus far, the Mountaineers have averaged just 65 points themselves against those teams, as compared with 83 points on average in the other eight games.

Hampton is shooting less than 40% from the floor and just under 30% from the arc, though they greatly prefer to run their offense inside the three-point line (better than 2/3 of their shots are two-pointers).

Appalachian finished the JMU win on a 17-2 run, but started yet another game slowly on offense. In the past six games, App State is being collectively outscored by just over 50% from the opening tip to the first media timeout. Digging out of early deficits has not been an easy task for Appalachian, so avoiding the gap has become an increasingly important goal.

A fast start may not assure a victory, but the lack of them has certainly led to some unnecessary drama. Going into the start of Sun Belt play at 5-6 vs. 4-7 may not seem like a huge difference, but it will be significant to a young Mountaineer team. Especially in defending their home floor against Hampton.

APP STATE 75 – HAMPTON 64


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