The game looked alot like this.
But the final score of 97-81 does not show the whole story, and neither does the picture above.
My assumptions of Memphis’ over-rated offense were soon squelched as four-year Wesley Witherspoon was a perfect 8-8 from the field, scoring 22 points.
An overlooked story from this game, however, was that Belmont actually out-rebounded the Tigers in this game, 39-27. A huge margin against an AP top 10 ranked team. But our 6-for-20, 3 point attempt statistic against their 50% was the biggest story in the game. Rebounds only matter when they turn into points.
Belmont’s J.J. Mann played a great game, with 18 points and Ian Clark combined with Kerron Johnson scored 29. But this just wouldn’t be enough against a Memphis team that was lights out on the offensive side of the ball.
The Good: Belmont’s speed, intensity, and rebounds.
The Bad: Three point shooting and stupid turnovers.
The Ugly: Brandon Baker, again. He was 0-8 shooting. If my memory serves me correctly he shot three, three pointers at the beginning of the game. Back-to-back-to-back. And missed them all, resulting in a run from Memphis we were fighting against all day. (Okay maybe it was two back-to-back, but still).
I know Baker isn’t the only problem here, it was the entire offense. We have seen great things from him before, it is probably just opening game cobwebs. But this problem needs to be fixed. And fast.
Now to stop being so hard on Byrd’s Boys.
Belmont played the toughest opening in any season of their history, maybe even the toughest opening two games in the history of any mid-major team (I definitely don’t have the stats to prove this) and truly showcased talent and discipline. Belmont showed a mature type of resilience against Duke- and even Memphis, particularly when down. Belmont had rallies in both games, bringing the games close on the home court of two powerhouse teams on their opening day.
Belmont soon coasts into A-Sun play, but we should not overlook the match-up on Dec. 13 against MTSU. The Blue Raiders and just beat UCLA (the other Bruins) by 20.
I look forward to the season ahead, and i’m proud of how the boys looked against two of the top teams in the nation.