It was just two weeks ago when Appalachian ran off to a big lead over Georgia Southern at home, and then melted down, and allowed the Eagles to force overtime. The Mountaineers went on to win that game, but the result was more of a relief than anything. I was asked tonight by a big Mountaineer fan to sprinkle some magic ferry dust over the team to get them playing better, on a more consistent basis. We both agreed, this team looks really good when they play well, and really bad when they play bad. There is not a middle ground with this team.
With the teams playing so recently, there really is not a lot to talk about. Appalachian has a higher ceiling, meaning their best is better than Georgia Southern, but the Eagles hold the wild card. They are a team that is much better at home, where they have beaten Davidson and Charleston. At the same time, the Eagles lost to The Citadel at home and most recently, and snuck by Chattanooga by two points. This game all depends on which team is hot at the right time. For whatever reason, Appalachian has had a tough time in Hanner Fieldhouse and a road win would be big for their SoCon seeding situation.
Line opened up at +3 this morning for Appalachian and has since bumped to +4. The way the line moves have gone this season, means that Georgia Southern is definitely favored in this matchup. We thought the spread would be lower. This is a tough call, as even some of the better Appalachian teams over the years have had a tough time in Statesboro. I am going to hold my official pick until this afternoon, but I am currently leaning toward Ga. Southern. This could potentially be the first time I have picked against Appalachian since their first game of the season.
6:20 Line is consistent, this is a very tough call. I don’t like it, but I am gonna take App to cover. Maybe they will come through.
This is an example of another game that was not pretty, and provided more Maalox moments than any fan would like to see. Appalachian was down by ten points at halftime, surged ahead in the closing minutes, before allowing Georgia Southern to force overtime in the closing seconds for the second time this season. Applachian held a seven point lead with 2:40 to play in regulation, but Southern went on a 11-4 run to erase the deficit. Mike Neal attempted four three throws in the final 0:37 that would have extended the Mountaineer lead and made it more difficult for Southern to tie. The Eagles also had a chance with three seconds to play to take the lead, but could only connect on one free throw, which sent the game into overtime.
Appalachian caught fire in the second half and overtime. The Mountaineers scored 27 points in the first twenty minutes of the game. In the second half, Appalachian exploded for 46 points and scored 18 in the five minute overtime period. In overtime, Appalachian made every shot they took, three from the field and twelve on the charity stripe. essentially that was the difference in the game. Even though Appalachian could have iced the game in regulation with free throws, they took advantage in overtime, and for the most part of the game. Appalachian did not finish with a great percentage on the line, but were able to get there enough to make it count. Forty-three free throw attempts has got to be the most attempted this season.
Nathan Healy tied his career high for the second straight game with 24 points and 11 rebounds, including two blocks and two steals. Mike Neal finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds, but did commit eight of App’s fifteen turnovers. Jay Canty scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Tab Hamilton added 16 points, and hit two of App’s three field goals in overtime. Tevin Baskin fouled out, but scored 15 points in twenty five minutes of action.
Appalachian is now 12-5 against the spread this season, after starting the season with ten straight covers, losing five in a row, and now have won in back to back game. We continue to be one game behind the Mountaineers at 11-6. The early line for the Davidson game stands at 16, and this will probably move tomorrow with a late tipoff. The Mountaineers secured a huge win, almost a must win, in the SoCon standings. Western Carolina and Samford are slumping right now with four straight losses. Elon also lost last night, which puts Appalachian two game out of first place with seven to play. App and Elon have the same opponents down the stretch for the most part. Elon has the entire North Division remaining, along with Furman and Davidson, while App has played Western twice, and gets The Citadel, Davidson and Furman along with their remaining North Division opponents.
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