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This afternoon Bucknell played a horrible game yet they escaped with a win over Arkansas. How did they do it when they shot a miserable 39% from the floor, shot a lower field goal percentage, had less boards and dimes? Their secret was their lethal shooting from behind the arc. While they shot 39% for the game they shot an eye-popping 52% from behind the arc. Yes, you read that right - 11 of Bucknell’s 17 field goals were from behind the arc despite the fact that they went an atrocious 6 for 22 from inside the arc.
The first half was a tight battle that saw Bucknell head into the half with at 27-23 edge. Arkansas did a better job of distributing the ball in the first half than Bucknell - the Razorbacks had six dimes on nine field goals while the Bisons had just three dimes on nine field goals - but the primary reason Arkansas was able to stay close was their dominance inside the three point arc. Heading into the half Arkansas was outscoring Bucknell 16-2 in the paint while Bucknell’s three point shooting kept them close as they went 5-6 from downtown.
The Bisons started the second half continuing to struggle from inside the arc. They were 0 for 5 from within the arc yet 4-6 in the opening minutes of the second half. Has a team in the Tournament ever struggled like this shooting easy shots yet been able to connect with such consistency from downtown?
Arkansas was able to tie the game with under a minute left but their inability to make free throws cost them the game. Heading into the half both teams were perfect from the line but Arkansas’s efficiency from the charity stripe eroded in the second half and they finished the game only hitting 15 of their 24 free throws.
Charles Lee had a huge game for Bucknell. Lee had12 points in the first half as he went 4-6 from the field in 14 minutes while rest of his team went an abysmal 5-18. Lee finished the game with 24 points and 8 boards but his biggest contribution came on the defensive end where he locked down future NBA Lottery Pick Ronnie Brewer.
Speaking of Brewer, he only made two fields goals in the first half and finished the game 14 points and 6 dimes. A lot of NBA general manager’s seem sold on trying to maker Brewer a point guard at the NBA level but based on what I saw today he’ll be better suited playing the shooting guard position at the next level. He has great court vision but he doesn’t look comfortable bringing the ball up court or running the Razorbacks offense - two things that won’t change against tougher competition at the next level. Some scouts have compared him to Jamal Crawford of the Knicks and I think that if NBA team’s try to make him into a point guard he’ll have the same lack of success that Crawford is having. However, if you allow to play off the ball he could be a legit player at the next level due to his passing, ability to play tough defense and his athleticism.
An Arkansas player that didn’t see much playing time today but is a personal favorite of mine is Sean McCurdy. McCurdy is a talented guard who played for Coach Hurley at St Anthony’s last year who I first learned about in Adrian Wojnarowski’s book called, “The Miracle of St Anthony.” This season McCurdy was Jonathan Modica’s back-up and he only averaged 8.1 minutes per game in the 29 games that he got to play in as a freshman. If he’s able to listen to the coaching staff at Arkansas he has the potential to be a big time NCAA player but he if continues to listen to his mother or pout when he gets taken out of games he’ll continue to languish on the bench next season.
Does Bucknell beating Arkansas count as an upset win? I don’t think you can call a #9 seed or a team that advanced into the second round last year an underdog team. Throw into the mix that Bucknell returned all five starters from the team and it looks like they could be a team that causes some noise in the Tournament.
Fri 03/17/06, 3:27 pm EST