Judging by this game, Western vs. Middle Tennessee should be a great race to the SBC East title–maybe even better than last season’s between the Toppers and South Alabama.
A few nuggets, good and bad, from the game:
- Though neither team played well offensively (a combined 29 turnovers), a great finish helped make up for it. Both team were able to keep up manageable shooting percentages–Western shot 42.9% compared to MTSU’s 43.6%.
- I’m starting to wonder whether or not this so-called “experiment” with Dejan Cvoro starting over Sergio Kerusch is permanent. Cvoro got his sixth straight start, and Kerusch is thriving off the bench as a sixth man. Cvoro’s learning curve will be faster, and Kerusch can give that already-thin bench some much needed help.
- Kerusch also continues to be a double-double machine, posting 15 points and 10 boards in the win, his fourth double-double of the season. Jeremy Evans also pulled down 10 rebounds paired with five points.
- Despite a thin bench, Western got one of its best outing from the reserves, holding a 20-9 scoring edge over the Blue Raiders.
- The Toppers have shown they know how to win close games so far this season. Western has won four of six games decided by 10 points or less, and when coach Ken McDonald’s technical and subsequent free throws left them in a 47-41 hole, the Toppers were able to go on a 9-0 run and retake the lead.
- The woes continue on Western’s depleted bench. Sophomore guard D.J. Magley continues to put himself in a hole early in the foul column (three fouls in six minutes), and senior forwards Japeth Aguilar and Matt Maresca combined for zero points off zero shots two rebounds in 14 minutes. If the Toppers want to be a postseason team, one of those players, or senior forward Mike Walker, has to start contributing better minutes off the bench.
- New Orleans comes in ranked 11th in the SBC in scoring offense, but fourth in scoring defense. Western swept UNO last season and currently hold a five-game winning streak over the Privateers (8-9, 3-4 SBC West Division) dating back to 2004.