Scoring Struggles

With the second week of OVC play upon us, the non-conference play subsided.  Trends can be broken, but several teams are struggling to score the basketball at a winning clip.

Here are the bottom six teams in Scoring Offense (as of 1/3)

7. Belmont  74.1

8. Southeast Missouri   73.6

9. Tennessee Tech  72.8

10. Tennessee State   71.7

11. Jacksonville State  70.9

12. SIUE  67.6

Despite the numerous variable typically affecting low scoring there are some obvious culprits.

Belmont

Senior Taylor Barnette will never be forgotten by the Belmont faithful, thanks to his OVC-Title winner.  Still the sharpshooter was terrible in the tail end of 2016.

Most of Barnette’s looks come from the wings, either in the middle or late in the possession.

Why is he missing the same shots he was making the last two years?

Barnette made 74 triples last season and the shooting form is impeccable.  A slight uptick from Barnette came Saturday at Austin Peay (28 pts).  Can he remedy his shooting ailment?

This one remains a mystery.

Sophomore scoring guard Kevin McClain has not excelled in a larger role, as assumed.  McClain has the handles and strength in traffic to be a top 3 scorer on the Bruins.  His recovery from the sophomore slump will be welcomed at The Curb.

Southeast Missouri

The Redhawks are inarguably moving in the right direction.  Entering the second week of OVC play they already earned a conference win and six wins overall.  The program routinely fights through tough situations.

This year SeMo is getting plenty from Antonius Cleveland.  The team shoots very well from deep too.

One of the best outside shooters, Jamaal Calvin (45.5% 3pters) has a tough time inside the halo.  If he draws the foul it ends well at the line.  Unfortunately, Calvin’s struggles in the paint tug at the team’s offensive fluidity.  The success rate plummets when Calvin dips into the lane.

Another backcourt threat for SeMo is junior college transfer Daniel Simmons.  While Simmons is certainly helping the offense create and finish, his efficiency needs to improve.

Simmons is a big game player.  Four of his six best scoring games came on the road, against high-major opponents.  He scored 24 combined between DePaul and Missouri State road contests.  A physical guard, Simmons has to return to his passing days of November.  The unselfish play in November really encouraged ball movement teamwide.

Tennessee Tech

Last season Hakeem Rogers displayed flashes of brilliance.  Unfortunately, this year Rogers has been terrible.

To miss 100 shots before the New Year takes some bizarre mix of earned reputation and ineptness.  Rogers merges those two in an unattractive way.  As a senior Rogers began the year as a starter.  After a handful of poor performances he began coming off the bench.

So far, Rogers has started seven of 16 TTU games, shooting 30/100 from beyond the arc.  His numbers are down across the board, but the young Golden Eagle team needs him desperately.  Markell Henderson and Courtney Alexander are not able to become featured scorers in the OVC apparently.

Tennessee State

Of all the teams on this list, the TSU Tigers might be the most quick to escape.

Scoring 71.7 ppg is only problematic if the defensive letdowns that Tahjere McCall and Head Coach Dana Ford identified persist.

The Tigers are exceptional defensively around the arc.  They are also blessed with uncommon OVC size underneath.  Despite his one-game benching by Head Coach Dana Ford, Ken’Darrius Hamilton remains an important piece protecting the rim.  If nothing else he makes attackers hesitate around the tin.  Hamilton, Christian Mekowulu, Tahjere McCall, and Wayne Martin all have about 1.0 block per.

When you defend as a unit, shooting woes are less costly.

Why isn’t Tennessee State experiencing scoring droughts?

Jordan Reed isn’t the scorer Keron DeShields was.  Reed is easily the best backcourt rebounder in the conference, but he doesn’t shoot outside the arc (14 3pt attempts).  Also, Reed misses more than his share of free throws, making his slashing less potent.

Wayne Martin wanted a larger role last year.  Now that he has it, he remains inconsistent.  Martin disappeared against Duke, Vanderbilt, and Northern Arizona.  He was great against Kennesaw State, Lipscomb, and Middle Tennessee.

While Martin might maintain his high productivity of late, Reed is never going to be an outside shooter.  TSU needs to get nightly scoring from junior Darreon Reddick.  Reddick provides the team with its best floor-stretcher.

The evolving fitness of Mekowulu might solve TSU’s scoring struggles too.

Jacksonville State

The Jacksonville State road win at UT Martin remains the best OVC win of the young season.  It was a nearly flawless performance for Head Coach Ray Harper’s first JSU squad.

Coach Harper’s bench shot 8-16 (50.0%) against a 10-win team.  Their six road wins prove they are capable of battling for a OVC East crown.

Greg Tucker is really the only inefficient Gamecock.  Despite his exceptional mobility and willingness to score, Tucker misses a lot.  A matchup challenge, Tucker doesn’t hit triples (33.3%) or two’s (33.3%) at a promising rate.  It is going to fall upon his discretion to rehab this inefficiency though.  With his size and power, Tucker will continue to get looks at the basket.  It falls upon him to turn down shots he isn’t making.

Sitting Tucker is not really a good option, considering the construction of the program.

SIUE

The Cougars are shooting a paltry 40.9%.  The problem is teamwide and troublesome.  For a couple reasons senior Burak Eslik is having a terrible season.  Deservedly positioned as a team leader and potential scoring leader, Eslik is missing night after night.  The Turkish guard has missed his last 12 shots against D1 opponents.

Outlying performances against Indiana (18 pts) and Missouri S&T (30 pts) do nothing to warm the hearts of Cougar fans.

Eslik has a portfolio filled with volume scoring, so a turnaround is possible.  He buried 38.5% three’s his sophomore season with Lewis & Clark Community College.  Approximately a year ago, Eslik stuffed in seven straight 3’s against Morehead State.

Youngsters like Christian Ellis (36-77 FT’s) and Justin Benton (28.9% FG) are guilty of shooting woes too.

Benton doesn’t look to score often, but Ellis’ 41 free throw misses by January would inspire an ostrich head burial.  The solution isn’t to look away though.  Those numbers suggest Ellis completely retool his free throw form.

Austin Peay

The Governors are not in the bottom half of the league in scoring, but they are allowing an outrageous 86.3 ppg.  Only thirteen teams in the nation score more than that per game and Austin Peay is not one of them.

It is pretty difficult to imagine Josh Robinson scoring 9.0 more points a night to make up the difference.  For Peay the solution isn’t more scoring…it is finding ANY defense.

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