The Huskies defeated Belmont tonight, 96-78, at Bank of America Arena in their second game of the season. Tomorrow's game against Portland State concludes the Athletes in Action Classic and marks the final time the Huskies will play on consecutive days until the Pac-10 Tournament.
The least you should know:
Matthew Bryan-Amaning was everything he wasn't last night: aggressive, active, and upbeat. He finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.
There was very little to complain about for a Husky fan this evening. The team had three consistent scorers, only turned the ball over 10 times, and dominated on the glass.
Last night, after he scored 30 points and outclassed anyone in the building wearing a pair of basketball sneakers, Isaiah Thomas said "tomorrow, it's gonna be somebody else's day."
Isaiah was right, sort of.
Clearly, the story of tonight's game, a decisive 96-78 victory for the Huskies at home over Belmont, was Matthew Bryan-Amaning. He tied his career high with 23 points, had seven rebounds and blocked five shots, bouncing back after a lackluster game to open the season on Friday.
But, the dynamic games from last night's star, Thomas, or senior forward, Quincy Pondexter might've just as well stolen the show if not for the loftier expectations placed on the Huskies' two most heralded players. Thomas (23 points, seven rebounds), Pondexter (25 points, 11 rebounds) and Bryan-Amaning combined to score 71 of the Huskies 96 points.
Bryan-Amaning set the dominating tone for the Huskies' night, scoring the game's first points on a slam dunk, and scoring two more baskets in the first five minutes.
"I was fine with it (his performance) yesterday. See, I didn't take many shot attempts, because they were double-teaming," Bryan-Amaning explained, pointing to the different defensive schemes used by Wright StateBelmont. and
"Usually with Matt, if something goes well early, the rest of the game usually goes pretty good for him," said Coach Lorenzo Romar. "You can just see in his body language if things are going to work out."
Although only one Husky outside of tonight's 'big three' scored more than two baskets, the team won nearly every statistical category from Belmont, other than field goal percentage: the Huskies shot 42.7% to Belmont's 50.9%. But, the Huskies compensated for that deficit by shooting 7-17 from three-point range, and 25-29 (86.2%) from the free throw line.
Pondexter was more active around the basket tonight, and shot 11-11 from the free throw line. "It was part of our game plan. We saw a lot of mismatches with their guards guarding me down there," Pondexter said. "When we have four perimeter players on the floor, that would be the easiest way for me to score."
One of the main points of concern after last night was that Wright State wound up with as many rebounds as the Huskies did. Tonight, though, the Huskies dominated on the glass, clearing 48 boards, twice as many as Belmont had.
"We're making progress," Coach Romar said. "We made progress on the boards tonight. We made a concerted effort to outrebound them."
If there was anything at all to quibble about this evening, it was several points during which Belmont players found themselves completely open on drives to the basket, finishing with dunks or layups.
"Obviously, there were big holes in our defense. Some of that was my fault," Romar explained. "We tried making an adjustment (on the ball screen) that we hadn't really practiced and they burned us a few times on that."
Observation and Analysis:
Husky of the Game: Matthew Bryan-Amaning. If MBA can exist somewhere in between the low of last night and the high of tonight, it will go a long way toward giving the Huskies the production they need down low.
Tonight's performance was mostly what someone would expect to see after reading one of the national season previews on the Huskies, with I.T., Quincy, and MBA leading the way.
Abdul Gaddy had a much better game tonight (eight points, three rebounds, two assists). Venoy Overton missed all five of his shots, and struggled to assert himself on defense (three fouls/no steals, to go with two points, three assists, three rebounds). Round one: Venoy, round two: Gaddy.
Tonight marked the debut of Clarence Trent, who played a frenetic eight minutes, managing four rebounds, two turnovers, two fouls and an assist. His energy is great, but it may take some time to rein in.
The Dawg Pack was thrilled to see walk-on Brendan Sherrer check in during the game's final moments. Sherrer actually had what I thought should've been counted as a steal, then a pass to Elston Turner, who dribbled down the court and threw an alley-oop to Justin Holiday.
Justin Holiday may want to put the pistols away. After shooting 0-3 last night, he shot 2-8 tonight, and went 0-3 from beyond the arc. Aggressiveness is great, but tonight it seemed forced.