Before long, Juwan Howard Jr. is going to find his shot. When it happens, Detroit's opponents better watch out.
The senior went just 4-for-15 from the floor, but scored 22 points as defensive pressure and lack of free throw shooting by South Alabama helped the Titans take out the Jaguars, 66-53.
The game wasn't without its drama though as South Alabama used a second half run to put a scare into Detroit. But unlike the Jaguars, who shot just 52 percent at the free throw line, the Titans made 20 of 23 attempts to seal the game.
While Detroit still struggled on offense against South Alabama, the defense really kicked into high gear especially in the first half. The Jaguars committed 22 turnovers in the game, with the majority coming early. The Titans were able to build a 15-point lead that was too much to overcome with the lack of decent shooting.
Patrick Ackerman did a nice job of filling the paint and scored two blocks early that helped set the tempo. He forced South Alabama to adjust more shots to stay away from him in the middle, which was a big factor in that early rush by Detroit. Paris Bass added to the block party with three of his own in the win.
The shooting still wasn't there for Detroit, which was a factor in the big loss to Oregon and with any better execution by South Alabama, might have been a downfall for the Titans here. Yet games like this where the defense clicks can go a long way toward fixing that. If they play this way on the defensive end against the teams in the Horizon League, there is no reason they can't challenge for the title.
But Howard's shooting needs to come around for them to be successful in every game. The best player on the floor for the Titans can't be shooting just over 30 percent for the season. He is a better talent than that and should be over 40 percent, especially with how much he gets the ball in the offense. He did back up the team at the free throw line where he was a perfect 14-for-14, and he pulled in nine boards.
Which is why when his game is complete this season, he is going to be a major factor in the league and challenge a certain Green Bay point guard for the top player in the league.
Taishaun Johnson led South Alabama with 15 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in the loss.
Detroit will move on to play Maryland-Eastern Shore in Toledo, on Monday, while South Alabama has a showdown with Miami on Friday.