It is rare that you hear about one team "mid-range jumper" ing another team to death, and there's good reason for that. However, in large part to their apparent confusion about this newfangled thing called a "2-3 zone", that appeared to be the Jaguar agenda tonight.
Unfortunately, it paid little dividend, especially in the first half. They managed to miss a whopping 65% of their shots in the half, while also only grabbing 33% of their misses - and yet, there they were, trailing by one, 29-28, with about a minute left to play.
Then Georgi Boyanov missed the front end of a 1-and-1, which touched off a 7-0 Warhawks run to close out the half. The Jags were fortunate that the ULM defense got in foul trouble to bail them out in he first half, because their offensive scheme was oscillating between "stand around and wait for Ken Williams to shoot " and "toss it down low for an awkward, off-balance layup attempt."
Then the second half started, and it was more of the same. This was an interesting game to watch, because both teams were running 2-3 zone defenses, but they very clearly did not have the same understanding of how to execute the system.
I guess this shouldn't be a huge surprise given the experience gap of the two teams on the floor, but it was still a stark contrast. The Warhawks had great spacing and ball movement, and were regularly catching USA out of position, especially on second chances - which happened often, as evidenced by ULM's 19 offensive rebounds.
The Jaguars were the complete opposite. They eventually shifted to man-to-man late in the second half, to no avail, because they were executing so poorly on defense. But they also weren't clicking on offense either. South Alabama's version of attacking the zone was to penetrate, act surprised whenever they suddenly stopped in the paint and were swarmed by burgundy jerseys, and then pass either to a teammate two feet away or the one perimeter player who wasn't open.
This game ended 75-57 and would have been much uglier if not for Ken Williams' 21 points. A great example of their lack of discipline showed in the low post, where they allowed Louisiana-Monroe's Majok Deng to rack up 14 points and 13 rebounds, only his fifth double-double of the season (and third against an actual DI team). Meanwhile, Abdul Lewis was busy posting 6 points, 6 rebounds and 5 turnovers.
Look at that photo up top again. Look at Deng (the player stooped over). His legs are the size of Tylor Ongwae's arms. I don't care if he is 6'10", those are not the legs of someone who almost single-handedly outrebounds your entire low post rotation.
Louisiana-Monroe still has one more test against Georgia State in about a week, and I'm not sure tonight's game told me much about their odds in that one, but they clearly won't struggle with Appalachian State before that. South Alabama, meanwhile, is now hanging on by a fingernail to a berth in the conference tournament, holding down the seventh seed and only a half-game ahead of Texas State, Appalachian State and Arkansas State (whom they play next.