Photo by Mykah Heaton
The UVU men’s basketball team fell to WAC-leading Cal State Bakersfield Thursday night 80-71. Here are some key numbers that contributed to the result and how they could affect the team moving forward:
16- Scoring differential in the paint
“Their penetration really hurt us. They leave bigs in a dunker spot and they pass really well interiorly,” said head coach Mark Pope. “We were late on some fills on the baseline and late on some rotations to the middle and they did a nice job. It’s what they do.”
The Roadrunners outscored UVU 38-22 in the paint, thanks in large part to Matt Smith and Shon Briggs, who combined for 31 points and 12 rebounds. A lot of the inside scoring was produced off of quick passes following penetration by the guards, which contributed to CSUB’s 24 assists.
2- Minutes played by Isaac Neilson in the second half
“It’s a hard matchup for him. They’re playing so small and it’s hard for us to take advantage of him on the offensive end because they’re coming to double him every time,” said Pope. “They were pushing the ball hard in transition, we got beat in transition a few times.”
CSUB outscored the Wolverines in fast break points, 11-6. Seven of those 11 points came in the first half, contributing to the matchup issues for Neilson, who finished the game with five points, six rebounds and a block in 14 minutes.
The silver lining of Neilson’s CSUB matchup is that he should be fresh for the quick turnaround. The Wolverines host a rematch against Grand Canyon University Saturday at 7 p.m. and will need Neilson to play well in that one against a more traditional matchup.
19- Minutes played by Zach Nelson
“If we can find a way to get him back full speed, he’s obviously a big part of this team,” said Pope. “He balances us.”
Nelson returned from an ankle injury Thursday after missing the previous four games. The return of the 6-foot-7 forward gave the Wolverines additional size that they had been missing since his removal from the lineup. Nelson was still not at full strength, but did finish the game with two points, three rebounds and a steal. If UVU is to rise in the WAC standings before the end of the season, they’ll need Nelson on the floor. The Wolverines are currently one game back of Seattle University for fifth place in the conference.
I grew up on a farm in Burley, Idaho, but I’ve always had an intense love of sports. I’m studying journalism in an attempt to turn my love into a career. I’m a huge Utah Jazz, Tennessee Titans, and San Jose Sharks fan. If it’s a sport, I’ll watch it.