It wasn't total domination, but the Eagles controlled the game from the tip, en route to a 14-point victory over the Bearcats. BC had balanced scoring throughout the lineup and continue to show that this team is more than just Olivier Hanlan. With their 4th straight victory, the Eagles improve to 6-3 and prepare for a competetive matchup with the USC Trojans on December 21st. Below are 3 ups and 3 downs from Sunday's game:
1) Dimiri Batten
The play of Batten on both sides of the ball has really been a strength for the Eagles as of late. He poured in a team-high 18 points against the Bearcats, and in his first 4 starts as an Eagle, Batten is averaging just over 14 points per game while shooting 61% from the field and 53% from three. However, it's more than just his offensive play that's been a boost for the Eagles. Batten has been a terror on the defensive end and continued his stellar play Sunday, swiping two steals and turning both into uncontested layups. If he can continue to play solid basketball on both ends of the floor then BC should at-least remain competitive in ACC play.
2) Balanced Scoring
Aaron Brown, Dimitri Batten, and Olivier Hanlan all scored in double figures Sunday afternoon as the Eagles showed a dimension that we haven't seen in some time. The days of Hanlan dominating the ball, simply because he needed to, are over and BC is all the better for it. If Brown and Batten can continue to knock down 3's with some consistency and Hanlan continues to attack the rim and distribute, then the Eagles will have the balance needed to possibly snag an at-large bid come March.
3) Lonnie Jackson
For the first time all year Conte Forum got to see Lonnie Jackson step on the floor and play a little shootyhoop. While he might not have made a huge impact in the box score, it was enough just to see him running around out there. Seconds after checking in, Jackson managed to steal an inbound pass and hit Brown with a cross court pass which led to an easy layup. It was only Lonnie's first game but he came out and looked healthy. As he gets more time on the court, look for Jackson to contribute, especially from three point range.
BC committed 17 turnovers in what appeared to be a rather sloppy game from both teams. I think this was more of a case of BC playing down to their opponent than simply a poor showing in general. While we did lose the turnover battle (BC 17, Bing 16) it didn't seem to affect the outcome as the Eagles maintained control throughout. With that being said, Jim Christian will have to cleanup the ball handling if they look to have a similar result against USC.
2) Free Throws
This seems to be a common theme for the Eagles as they once again had a poor showing from the charity stripe. BC connected on only 17 of 25 freebies for a less than stellar 68%. I'm really not sure what BC can do aside from shoot a ridiculous amount of free throws at practice. I am sure of one thing though, and that's if BC continues to shoot it at their current clip, then it's gonna cost them some games down the road.
3) Second Half
It's not that the Eagles played poorly in the second half, it's more of the fact that they never put the game away. After winning the first 20 minutes by a comfortable 14 points, I was looking for the Eagles to come out and win this game by at least 25. Every now and then BC would go up by 18 or 19 but would give up an open 3 or turn the ball over a couple times and let the Bearcats narrow the gap. There was no point in the game where I thought BC would lose the lead, but it would be nice to see them really bury a team like this and show me that they really know how to put away a game.
Overall I'm happy with the Eagles' win over Binghamton. While it would have been nice to put this game away at some point in the second half, it's still good to see them get the W. The Eagles now have to worry about a young USC team that lost a lot of talent from last year. There's no doubt in my mind that BC should win this game, rather handily in fact, and be ready to demolish UMass-Lowell the following week. Hopefully the momentum of a six game winning streak will be enough to put together a competitive game against Duke.