Not the display we wanted going into Maui, but sitting in the airport for seven hours in Chicago before flying across the country may have had something to do with it.
LMU's fans showed up in record numbers and its student section put forth an impressive display tonight. Though I mocked the small home stadium, there is something to be said about a small but loud arena for home court advantage. Let's be honest, playing Notre Dame at home is the highlight of the LMU season. For us, it was just a quick tuneup before the most important week of the non conference schedule. Perfect ingredients for a trap game.
That's not to make excuses for Kyle McAlarney's o-fer or allowing a Teel-less (and Bayno-less) Lion squad to knock down 42% of its three point attempts. This should have been a blowout and mission was not accomplished. However, just look to UCONN (9 and 7 for All-World Hasheem Thabeet? I don't see nothing!) or Wisconsin tonight for other examples of ranked squads struggling for early season wins. A win's a win, better than USC or UCLA can say about performances last night.
K-Mac just never got going today. 0-4 shooting with three assists. No need to dwell on his performance too much, it happens from time to time. Obviously a hot McAlarney puts this game away before halftime. LMU shut him down and kept the game close.
Toy Jackson had 16 points and 8 rebounds, a nice step-up game for the point guard. He took the ball to the basket well in the second half and got to the line (making only half from the charity stripe is a problem, though). Nice to see him make an effort to take over the game.
Ryan Ayers was efficient but didn't shoot enough. With Mac out of the game, he is a guy who really needs to step it up and take shots. 9 points on 3-6 shooting, but he can do more.
Zach Hillesland was a bit of a non-factor, only 4 points and 4 rebounds. The low scoring total isn't much of a surprise and Jackson and Harangody stole all the rebounds tonight, so the stats don't tell the whole story here.
Harangody is the reason we won this game. 27 points, 15 boards, just couldn't be stopped at either end. Congrats to the big fella and here's to stat lines like that in Maui.
Off the bench, only three guys. Peoples, Zeller, and Nash all contributed decent minutes, but no big stories there.
I did catch the second half on a Fox Sports feed on campus. It was refreshing to get a stripped down version of the game (none of the frills that dominate ESPN broadcasts). Still, I didn't get to get the same feel for the contest as anyone in attendance so if I get a review from someone else, I will certainly post it.
Overall, I am proud of the way our guys stayed composed in a game that certainly surprised them. The players kept an even keel throughout and it helped them eventually pull out the win. A less experienced bunch might have panicked.
Obviously, the margin coulda shoulda been bigger. You can look to Kyle's failure to score and the Lions' streaky outside shooting as reasons why this game stayed close. LMU also beat us up on the inside (double the amount of fouls), which may have surprised the team a bit from the start.
All in all, it's good to have a performance like this against LMU instead of in Maui. Now the players have time to get adjusted to Hawaii and come out blazing. Cross your fingers.