Wednesday night against LIU Brooklyn, James Madison had to know that pace would be what ultimately decides who would advance to play No. 1 Indiana in the Round of 64.
Against the run-and-gun scoring offense of LIU, the Dukes controlled the pace and were efficient on the offensive end of their way to a 68-55 victory in the First Four round of the NCAA tournament in Dayton, Ohio.
JMU played the first half without leading scorer and rebounder Rayshawn Goins, who was suspended after being arrested over the weekend. The Dukes were able to build a a 12-point lead with about four minutes to play in the half, but LIU stormed back with a 13-2 run going into halftime to cut the lead to just one point.
Goins came into the game in the second and was not a major factor offensively with four points, but did grab eight rebounds. A.J. Davis continued the hot shooting from the field that began in the first and finished with 20 points and five rebounds.
James Madison exploited LIU’s weaknesses on the defensive end and was able to hit open shots. That, in turn, stifled LIU’s ability to get out in transition and kickstart its effective full-court, attacking offense.
The Dukes now move on to face Indiana in the Round of 64. James Madison will be at a disadvantage as the 16-seed against Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, and National Player of the Year candidate Victor Oladipo, but they’ll have to keep in mind the Hoosiers’ key weakness. If they can be physical on the interior and push Zeller around, all while keeping him from getting involved, they will be in the best position to keep it close.
But, let’s face it, that’s much easier said than done.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.
Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.
Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.
The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.
John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.
We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.
For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.
Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.