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.