The Hammonster Strikes in Maui
On Wednesday evening, the Boiled Sports offices were completely empty as we dismissed the team early to gather with their families. That evening, the Boilers played their final game in Maui before heading back to the lovely November weather stateside. The game was officially for fifth place in the Maui Invitational and was against BYU, who shoots well and scores a ton, but fortunately also gives up some points. The Boilers put together two very good offensive halves of basketball, leading 40-35 at the break before being outscored 46-41 in the second. Overtime loomed, with both Hammons and Haas in foul trouble. They both wound up with four fouls (as did Octeus) as well as 12 points, but AJ had the dagger in an 87-85 OT win for the Black and Old Gold.
Vince Edwards went into Beast Mode Vince for the second time this season, this time going for 25 points and 9 rebounds, while shooting 78% from the floor and 89% from the line. He also hit 3/5 from three. Pretty amazing all-around game in 41 minutes of time.
AJ only played 20 minutes due to – stop me if you’ve heard this – the aforementioned foul trouble. But he did go 5/10 from the floor, including the game winner with 1.8 remaining in overtime.
Ray Day had his second very good game for the Boilers, going for 18 points on 4/10 shooting from the floor, but perhaps more excitingly, 10/11 from the line – following his 14/18 from the line against Mizzou. The last two games, it has appeared Davis has decided the Boilers can get on his back and come along for the ride. It’s great having guys step up that way, to be sure.
The Boilers as a team shot an encouraging 78% from the line (28/36), but also put the Cougs on the line 32 times (of which they hit 24). The Cougars were a two man team, with 50 points coming from Tyler Haws and Anson Winder.
Speaking of BYU’s output, they are now 4-2 on the season and the Boilers held them to their lowest point total of the young season. They’re currently #1 in the nation in points per game at 96.7 (including the 121 they racked up against Chaminade).
It’s hard to know how much stock to put in a game against the BYU Cougars – as the season plays out, we may get a better idea. However, wins are always better than losses and the Boilers should be thrilled to have beaten a team that scores a ton. It feels like we’ve said this a lot this fall, but last year’s team doesn’t have a chance in this game. Similar to Purdue football, it doesn’t seem to be that scoring is the biggest concern any longer. For the basketball program, continuing to bounce back from adversity – both within games and after losses – will be critical to this team having a tourney-worthy season.
Going 2-1 in Maui is a nice feeling for the program. They went at 3-0 and now come home at 5-1, which has to be a boost to the collective confidence of these guys. They proved they aren’t only going to win in Mackey and they may have learned a bit about themselves to… such as that AJ can be the clutch, dagger-wielding guy. Or that RayDay will simply take over when they’re looking for leadership. Or that Vince’s beast mode can come out at any time.
Many were cautiously optimistic heading into the 2014-15 season. Then that optimism quickly turned to measured excitement after pounding some cupcakes. And now, after beating a couple of legitimate teams (and, honestly, in coming back against KSU as strongly as they did), I think it’s fair to say people are even more amped for the season to come. This is a fun team to watch thus far. The ball movement, spacing, distribution, and outright passion is evident and far better than it was while the program was infested with some bad attitudes. I’m not usually one to put too much into that sort of excuse, but so far it really looks like this is a new bunch.
Let’s hope it continues. Next up is NC State on Tuesday night at 9 PM in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
[Photo credits, Brian Spurlock, USA Today]