AFTERMATH: APP STATE vs. LITTLE ROCK

More baffling stuff for Appalachian State on the road against Little Rock but the same result as in nine of 10 Sun Belt games - the Mountaineers are now 1-9 in conference play. Again, they competed, again they had opportunities to make a late-game run, and again they fell short. The game had its positive moments but until moments turn to results it appears we’ll keep having the same conversation.

So, there Appalachian State was again, trailing late in a game with opportunities to potentially make a run. And, there App State was again, failing to take advantage.

- 7:01 remaining and Appalachian trailing by 11 with a chance to cut it to nine; Griffin Kinney misses the front-end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity.

- App State gets the defensive stop after that with another chance to cut it to nine with 6:27 remaining, and Emarius Logan turns the ball over.

- Appalachian gets another stop with 5:57 remaining, misses a jump shot, but gets the offensive rebound and earns the foul. Kinney again misses the front-end of a one-and-one.

You get the idea.

But Little Rock also turned a typical App State strength into a weakness. Appalachian is the better offensive rebounding team, generally, but the Trojans outscored the Mountaineers 13-5 on second-chance points.

The most damnable of which came around the 10:00-mark where App had a chance to cut the lead to, you guessed it, single-digits, and Little Rock missed a three-pointer, got the offensive rebound, missed another three-pointer, got another offensive rebound, and then made a three-pointer.

The Mountaineers also gifted extra possessions to Little Rock via turnovers, a disturbing recent trend, which benefitted the Trojans to the tune of a 25-6 advantage in points from turnovers.

When you realize that App State shot 50% from the floor for the game, the first time they’d done so in 11 games, and wonder how they lost the game, look no further than the combined 38-11 Little Rock advantage on second-chance points and turnover scoring.

So, What Went Down?

APP STATE OFFENSE

As noted, Appalachian shot 50% from the floor. When the offense actually ran properly the offense worked. As noted, though, too often offensive sets ended with turnovers, which robbed the Mountaineers of scoring opportunities and provided them to Little Rock.

The Trojans outshot Appalachian 55-46 in the game.

Appalachian also got great looks via their offense, scoring 52% of their points in the paint.

But, the turnovers ended up being the real killer, especially when you consider it was just a seven-point loss. And, it’s not even that 13 turnovers is so many, but when Little Rock converts so many of them for scores it becomes more of an issue.

One encouraging trend was the success of Tyrell Johnson with his second double-figure scoring game in a row and Johnson is averaging 12.2 points on 49% from the floor. It's a real key if he continues production at or around that level.

APP STATE DEFENSE

As with the offense, there were positives defensively. The most significant of which was a great job of harassing Marcus Johnson, Jr., who hit App for 20 points earlier this season but had only seven points on 2-10 shooting in this game.

The two things that killed Appalachian on that end of the floor were the offensive rebounds scores (plus-eight points for Kittle Rock) and Little Rock’s three-point shooting.

In the realm of scouting Little Rock, if you’re willing to allow a certain shot it’s the three-pointer that you first surrender. As discussed in our game preview, Little Rock averages six per game and makes just 34% of those shots this season. Let them chuck it.

But, at Little Rock the Trojans made 10-22 and claimed a 15-point advantage at the three-point arc for the game. Little Rock’s combined three-point shooting against App State this season is 50% (19-38), which is a 47% improvement over their typical average.

In short, that type of scoring is way out of Little Rock’s character.

THE NEWCOMERS

QUIET night, all the way around. Starting with starter Craig Hinton, in his second opening-tip appearance, there were no points on one attempt and no rebounds in 14 minutes. Hinton is not at the stage where he’s seeking his own offense, but rather lets the game come to him. When it works, as it did at Arkansas State, he can be very successful, but he can also disappear, as a result.

Freshmen Pat Good and Isaac Johnson combined for six points on 2-5 shooting and nine rebounds between them, as they are likely fighting their way through hitting the rookie wall, now 20-something games into the season.

TURNAROUND

Now, the road-weary Mountaineer are rewarded for their nomadic reality and return home for five of the final seven regular season games. That stretch begins with visits from the Georgia programs at State and Southern on Saturday and Monday, respectively.

Appalachian played both tough but still left the Peach State 0-2 in that previous weekend. Ronshad Shabazz averaged 27 points per game on 47% shooting in the two games, as Appalachian averaged 80 points during the weekend. They also surrendered 87 points per game over the weekend.

The end of the regular season is within sight and Appalachian has a nice run at home and road games remaining with teams that have a combined 23-24 record. Things have to turn around starting now – there’s simply no time left.


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