The Chippewas suffered their worst loss of the Keno Davis era on Saturday night at Dayton night, falling to the Flyers, 84-58. Dayton scored 1.25 points-per-possession and CMU only averaged 0.87 points-per-possession. The Flyers outscored the Chippewas by an average of 0.38 points-per-possession, the biggest gap of any game since Davis came to Mount Pleasant. Dayton is now ranked 45th by KenPom.com and will likely be the toughest opponent CMU faces all season. The Chippewas move on to a rare in-season non-conference rematch against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, who they beat, 66-61, on November 30 in McGuirk Arena.
CMU enters this game ranked 283rd overall by KenPom, 210th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 326th in adjusted defensive efficiency. JSU is 309th overall on KenPom, 256th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 334th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Neither team plays at a very fast pace. The Chippewas are 328th in adjusted tempo and the Gamecocks are 328th.
Led by head coach James Green, JSU comes into Tuesday night's game with a 4-8 record, despite playing the 259th-ranked schedule in the country. They have a win over Fort Valley State, a Division 2 team, and another over NAIA squad Dalton State. The Gamecocks only other wins have come against teams ranked below 300 on KenPom: Alabama A&M (No. 315) and Alcorn State (No. 348).
In their first matchup, the Chippewas averaged 1.25 points-per-possession and JSU scored 1.15 points-per-possession. They played 53 possessions in the game. CMU point guard Chris Fowler led all scorers with 21 points, while making 8-of-11 shots, all from two-point range. The Chippewas also got double-digit efforts from Braylon Rayson and John Simons, while JSU got double-digit points from starting wing Darion Rackley and backup guard Rico Sanders.
CMU won the battle on the boards, pulling down 38.9 percent of their offensive rebounding opportunities, while the Gamecocks only brought down 29.6 percent of their offensive rebounding chances. The Chippewas shot 64.5 percent on their two-point shots and made six of their 12 three-point attempts en route to a five point victory.
The Gamecocks have been a good offensive rebounding team early in the year, ranking 99th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage. Both of their starting big men, Jamal Hunter and D.J. Felder are good on the offensive boards, as is backup forward Nick Cook. The rebounding has been the best part of their offense, but JSU has also been solid at taking care of the ball. Where they have struggled is getting to the free throw line and making shots. The Gamecocks are 270th in free throw rate and 315th in effective field goal percentage.
Rackley is the biggest contributor on offense. He leads JSU in percentage of possessions used and in points-per-game (12.0 ppg). Rackley takes a bunch of threes, as does starting point guard Brian Williams and the other starting wing Undra Mitchem. Mitchem has been their best three-point shooter, hitting 45 percent of his shots from long range. Rackley and Williams haven't been as successful, only making 24 percent and 21 percent respectively. Williams has been a successful playmaker, with a good assist rate, but JSU has struggled to finish only making 43 percent of their two-point shots, 314th in the country.
The Chippewas shouldn't struggle too much with turnovers in the game. CMU is 58th in offensive turnover percentage, while the Gamecocks have only forced turnovers on 17.5 percent of defensive possessions, 229th in the country. Forcing turnovers has actually been the best part of their defense, which has been mostly man-to-man this season. JSU is 273rd in defensive free throw rate, 298th in defensive effective field goal percentage and 305th in defensive rebounding percentage.
JSU has a veteran group, ranked 60th on KenPom in experience, and they use their reserves a healthy amount, ranked 56th in bench minutes. The Gamecocks aren't that big, ranked 267th in effective height.
KenPom projects a 68-67 Jacksonville State win in a 61-possession game and gives CMU a 43 percent chance at picking up a road victory for their seventh win of the season.
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