(Note: Taking a quick break from the five-part series on what went wrong for Georgia State this season to post this. Click here to read the series, which will continue Monday).
In the locker room following last year’s season-ending loss to Xavier, colleague Mark Bradley pointed out to Georgia State coach Ron Hunter that the Muskeeters pulled a Villanova in shooting 13-of-16 in the second half to pull away from the Panthers 75-67 in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Bradley was of course referring to Villanova’s shocking 66-64 win over Georgetown in the 1985 championship game. The Wildcats hit a remarkable 22-of-28 shots in the game to take the title.
Villanova-ing is a trend that continued this season against Georgia State, notably in the first round of the Sun Belt tournament.
Texas State hit 65.2 percent of its shots in the second half to dump the defending champion Panthers out of the event.
It wasn’t fluky shooting because it has happened to the Panthers numerous times in conference play this season: to put it bluntly, most teams had their number in the second half. Georgia State outscored by 79 points in the second half and overtime of 20 games this season heading into the tournament. The Bobcats added to that with 15 more second-half points than Georgia State scored. Add to that the Georgia State scored three fewer points in the second half than the first half of their conference games before the tournament and you’ll see why the team went 9-11.
Opponents shot an average of 45.1 percent in the second half compared to 38 percent in the first half, and scored 35.8 points in the second half compared to 29.7 in the first half.
There were 10 games in which Sun Belt opponents shot at least 5 percent better in the second half than the first. That’s slightly stunning, but there’s more to come.
Here’s the most shocking stat: There were seven games in which opponents’ shooting improved by at least 15 percent in the second half compared to the first, and only two opponent second games against Georgia Southern and Texas State) in which that trend was reversed.
Arkansas State: 24/44.8
Little Rock: 28.1/50
Texas State: 36.4/65.2
How does this happen, especially against a team was allegedly one of the better defenses in Division I?
I love stats as much as the next guy (as evidenced by this blog), but I think you could only argue that the Panthers were solid on defense by looking at stats. Watching them play you wouldn’t think they were as good as the numbers say. Texas State had no problems in the second half getting inside or finding open-enough shooters outside in the second half. I’ve seen that happen in many games this year, and even in the past few years.
So, asking again, how does it happen?
There is no correct answer but I have several ideas and would love to hear your feedback:
The averages even out: Opponents start poorly in the first half, inprove in the second half and the season averages are met by the end of the game
Good luck vs. bad luck: Good luck for Georgia State in the first half is evened out by bad luck in the second half. For example, Isaiah Williams’ great steal near the end of the second half in the tournament is offset by his attempt to slam the ball off a Texas State player misses by a fraction of an inch, giving the ball back to the Bobcats.
Halftime adjustments: Opponents are making adjustments to what Georgia State does in the first half and the Panthers don’t react quickly enough in the second half.
Familiarity: After Georgia State had trouble defeating IUPUI earlier in the season, coach Ron Hunter said he knew it would be a tough game because he’s been running the same things forever, implying that he was using the same stuff this year that he used six years ago when he was the coach of the Jaguars. I don’t know if he has made changes, I would imagine he has, but perhaps it’s time to change more things, or at least add some more wrinkles.
Here are the numbers. The second and third columns are percentage, the fourth and fifth are points:
|Opponent||1st half||2nd half||1st half||2nd half|
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