Not sure just what miracles this coaching staff is accomplishing at halftime, but whatever it is I hope they bottle it and feed this Arkansas tam plenty of it once the SEC season starts. At least three times this year the Hogs have followed poor to very poor first halves with sparkling second halves, tonight against Southeast Missouri in a 78-68 triumph being the classic example.
Fifteen-point first half deficit, 10-point deficit at halftime and 47-27 second half. Wow. And that's without Vincent Hunter and with Mike Jones not playing at all (coach's decision).
It will be interesting to watch this SEMO team as the season progresses. Will they turn out to be another Troy State? They sure did impress me tonight... with their 3-point shooting, at least three of which were with hands in their faces, with their effective cuts off the post, with their defense, with their ball handling on the perimeter, and with a pretty strong post player. If their game tonight is how they normally play they should have a prety decent season. They got tired in the second half and their legs seemed to go.
But mostly it was the terriffic defense of
Eric Ferguson and better awareness from the inside players, especially Wen Mukubu, that turned the game around. It's easy to blame weak interior defense for the points against in the paint, but with Semo knocking down 6 of their first 8 3-point shots any thoughts of doubling down had to pretty much go by the boards. In the second half, though, Pookie Modica was able to help down and was getting his hands in and messing up their inside players a bit.I thought Pookie and Ferguson had excellent games. It was good to see Eric come back after his lackluster offensive game against Illinois. Modica is just so steady at the offensive end... and so very strong.
Usually when Pookie sits the offense struggles, but tonight in addition to Ferguson's work Pharis, Famutimi and Brewer also provided some needed offense. Once again Olu Famutimi showed some signs that he is coming on. Ronnie Brewer made a couple of spectacular plays... a feed to Billy Pharis for a layin and a rebound dunk where his hands seemed at least a foot over the rim. But he really struggled defensively. Don't know whether he was looking for steals or what, but he was caught several times leaning the wrong way while his man scooted past him on the way to the basket.
Scary first half, promising second half and another important win. Every win will be important with Hunter out for most of December. That could well cost us a game or two in the win column. On the other hand if the coaches can bring their second half magic to bear in the first half by the time conference season starts just maybe we'll be able to surprise some of those powerful SEC teams that everybody seems to be writing about. (I guess Winthrop didn't notice.)
Halftime Adjustments Work for Hoopsters
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