AFTERMATH: HAMPTON vs. APP STATE

So much for those slow starts Appalachian State had suffered from of late. The Mountaineers opened up 16-0 against Hampton on the way to an 88-67 home victory. With the win App State is now on a two-game winning streak as they head into a holiday break and will come back out on the road. Now Sun Belt play awaits Appalachian who is off to the best start of the Jim Fox era.

Appalachian State’s 88-67 win over Hampton, and more specifically their 16-0 outburst from the opening tip, actually began four days earlier in an overtime win vs. James Madison.

Trailing JMU 55-51 with 3:30 left in regulation, App State went on an 8-4 run to send the game into overtime, where the Mountaineers outscored the Dukes 14-2 in the extra session.

As Head Coach Jim Fox noted after the Hampton win, that offensive confidence and momentum carried over into practices between the two games and showed itself in the blazing start against Hampton.

To start the Hampton run:

- As productive as the offense was, it was the defense and rebounding that triggered the success. Appalachian held Hampton scoreless on 0-4 shooting, two turnovers, and nothing but one-and-done shot possessions for the first 3:54 of play.

- App State actually started the game 1-4 from the floor, but then went six of their next nine. When Emarius Logan drained a three-pointer at 14:38 to give App a 19-5 lead all five Mountaineer starters had made a three-pointer, including the first of Griffin Kinney’s career.

- By the time Appalachian maxed out their first-half lead, at 35-13, and going back to that 3:30 mark near the end of the James Madison win, the Mountaineers had outscored their opponents 57-19 over the previous 22:07 of play.

So, What Went Down?

APP STATE OFFENSE

App State continued their recent tear from the arc, which has seen the Mountaineers shoot 44% or better in three of their past four games, knocking down 12 of 25 against Hampton. Appalachian is currently one of the top 65 teams nationally in threes per game.

However, after six games of struggling from two-point range (42.9%) Appalachian shot 57% (16-28) against Hampton. It may seem like a small accomplishment but it’s been a key to the recent offensive struggles during a 2-4 stretch for the team.

Ronshad Shabazz remained the steady leader offensively with 15 points against Hampton, and is averaging 16.8 on 46% shooting in the past four games. But, Emarius Logan has been explosively productive during this two-game winning streak. Logan went nuclear against Hampton with 21 points and five three-pointers, and he’s averaging 14 points on 67% shooting from the floor, 60% from the arc, and has nine assists with just one turnover in the last two games.

Mountaineer post players, led by Griffin Kinney’s first career double-double (12 & 10), scored 36 points on 65% shooting and grabbed 22 rebounds.

It was a dominant offensive game all the way around, including the key App State metric to team offense – 20 assists on 28 made baskets. During the two-game win streak App has assisted on 75% of their field goals.

APP STATE DEFENSE

Not to be overlooked, defense is producing offense. In the past two games App State is forcing 15 turnovers per game and scoring nearly 22 points off those takeaways.

Opponents are shooting just 40.7% from the floor and 32.3% from the arc in the past two games.

Ultimately, defensive performance has a ton to do with energy. When shots are falling and the adrenalin is pumping it shows on the defensive end of the floor. Appalachian seems to be peaking at both ends when it matters most, entering Sun Belt Conference play.

THE NEWCOMERS

Pat Good has shown his resilience after a couple of rough outings, shooting 50% from the floor and the three-point line for 25 points during the win streak. Kelvin Robinson has struggled with his shot of late, but his defensive pressure is relentless and he has six assists to zero turnovers in the last two games. Isaac Johnson was back to his typically productive self, which equated to a 40-minute adjusted evening of 14 points and 11 rebounds against Hampton.

Craig Hinton, who has forced his way into the primary second-five, had a productive nine minutes with four points and two rebounds along with effective defense. Hinton’s versatility to guard both small and power forwards has proven a valuable asset to take pressure off the other Mountaineer post players.

TURNAROUND

The confidence of a two-game winning streak and rediscovered offense come at the perfect time for App State, as a 10-day holiday break concludes with a damnable opening Sun Belt road trip to Texas.

First up is Texas State at 6-5 and winners of four of their past six, though it’s worth noting three of their wins are against non-DI opponents and their strength of schedule is 339th out of 351. Swingman Kavin Gilder-Tilbury has lived up to his preseason All-Sun Belt billing, but the Bobcats are still working to replace the loss of graduated scoring and playmaking.

The grand finale of the road trip comes against UT-Arlington. Since starting 1-3, after losing three straight games to teams with a combined 29-7 record, the Mavs are currently on an eight-game winning streak. UT-Arlington is currently ranked 20th nationally in RPI, by far (28 spots) the best in the Sun Belt Conference. Preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year Kevin Hervey leads the Mavs with 14 points and seven rebounds per game.

POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE

HEAD COACH JIM FOX

GUARD EMARIUS LOGAN & CENTER/FORWARD GRIFFIN KINNEY


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