Appalachian State’s lack of energy and execution from a bitter Saturday loss to last-place Louisiana-Monroe carried over into the first 3:32 of a Monday night match-up with Louisiana, and the Mountaineers found themselves down 9-2.
Then, as has happened in every single Sun Belt game this season, App State outplays their opponent and does so convincingly. Over the next 7:09 of the first half, Appalachian outscored the Cajuns 20-12. Eight combined points from Ronshad Shabazz and Griffin Kinney along with 12 bench points, led by Jake Babic with a quick seven, and the Mountaineers led.
At least, for the next 24 seconds.
But, just as suddenly as Appalachian awoke and took control of the game they again went dormant. Louisiana finished the half on a 22-11 run. App State hung around early in the second half with an opening 13-8 run, cutting the Cajun lead to 51-46 with 15:20 remaining in the game.
After that the Mountaineers collapsed thanks to turnovers (17 for the game, nine in the 2nd half) and Louisiana offensive rebounds (7-0 Cajun advantage in the 2nd half), in a 77-62 loss.
So, What Went Down?
APP STATE OFFENSE
To start the game, when App State worked the ball inside they enjoyed success. 22 points in the paint in the half (67% of the total) and the Mountaineers grabbed nine offensive rebounds, led by Isaac Johnson with four, to record a 48% field-goal percentage inside the three-point line.
It was behind the arc that, for a second straight game, Appalachian couldn’t find any range. A 3-13 first-half result meant that for the previous three halves of play the Mountaineers were shooting 23.5% from deep.
In an offense that is built to create three-point looks, as Jim Fox’s system does, when open shots don’t find the bottom of the net more often then it’s going to be difficult to win games. Even with the inside game succeeding.
Then came the dreaded second-half adjustments from Louisiana and the game turned again. Kinney, who had six first-half points on 3-4 shooting, took just one – ONE – shot during the entire second half, as the Cajuns bottled him up with quick double teams.
The Mountaineer offense which produced driving scores frequently in the first half was limited in the second half, with just 12 paint points. And the offensive rebounding effort was gone. Nine offensive boards in the opening half, zero in the final.
Appalachian could manage just 29 second-half points and over half of that came on a game-closing 15-8 App State run from the 8:30 mark, when Louisiana was just trying to finish it up and get out of town.
Louisiana also scored over 30% of their total points off Mountaineer turnovers.
APP STATE DEFENSE
Louisiana is a strong, experienced team that forces their offense upon opponents. They did the same to Appalachian, especially in the first half.
43 points on 53% shooting from the floor, 4-7 from the arc, with 24 points in the paint, and seven more from the free-throw line in the first 20 minutes.
For the game, Louisiana took 35 layups and scored 42 points (55% of their total) from those attempts.
Add to that 13 Cajun offensive rebounds and you have the recipe for a resounding loss.
As noted earlier, Isaac Johnson was his typical hyper-productive self on the boards, grabbing six first-half offensive rebounds, but went scoreless and could find just one rebound in the second half. Kelvin Robinson rebounded from a dismal game Saturday for eight points (3-7 shooting) and three rebounds in in just 14 minutes, as his court time is being monitored following the return from injury. Pat Good had another rough outing, going 0-4 from the floor. Good seems to have hit a bit of a wall late in his freshman season, currently mired in a 3-15 shooting slump over the past four games.
Craig Hinton had a strong first half, with six points on a couple of three-pointers in 12 minutes. For whatever reason, though, he logged just two minutes in the second half.
App State finishes their regular season Saturday at home against Coastal Carolina.