Old Dominion separated themselves from USCB in a big way last night in a 64-49 statement win to advance to the finals of the Vegas 16. Aaron Bacote had perhaps his best game of the season with 26 points and 6 rebounds, displaying a confidence in his own game that makes this ODU team a tough out. Trey Freeman added 18 points and 10 rebounds and Jordan Baker was aggressive from the perimeter which opened up the floor for his back court teammates to go to work.
Tonight the Monarchs face the most dynamic guard in college basketball (Kay Felder) and one of the most explosive offenses in the nation in the Oakland Grizzlies. Felder and company have gone over 100 points in a win six times this season, including last night’s 104-81 win over East Tennessee State. Earlier in the season the Grizzlies fell to Michigan State 99-93 so they can score on just about everyone, Felder had 37 points and 9 assists in that game.
This will be the ultimate contrast in approaches. ODU does not like to go fast or shoot the three but launched 27 times from beyond the arc last night as UCSB dared them to shoot. Entering the half tied at 28 and just 2-14 from three, ODU appeared to be falling into a well placed trap. Instead of forcing the issue, the Monarchs simply shot better in the second half and pulled away with ease. Tonight they will have to shoot equally well and make the most of their possessions.
Kay Felder (5’9) is one of the more decorated players in college basketball. The junior is the Horizon player of the year and in three seasons has smashed the conference’s career assist mark. Felder was named to the Naismith Award Watch List and a finalist for the Bob Cousy award, given to the nation’s top point guard. This season he is averaging 24.2 points and 9.2 assists per game with those numbers reaching to the ceiling in big spots. Last night he totaled 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Felder gets to the line a ton and shoots 85 percent from the stripe.
Jalen Hayes (6’7) averages 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. The sophomore does the bulk of his work in the mid range area and is the second most active Oakland player to account for with the basketball and likely to draw the assignment of Denzell Taylor.
Percy Gibson (6’9, 271) averages 11.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. The senior does not play as much as Felder and Hayes but is extremely productive with his minutes being Oakland’s most active offensive rebounder and rim protector. He’s also a 77 percent shooter from the line and capable of landing Brandan Stith in foul trouble.
Max Hooper (6’6) has the best gig in college basketball. The sharpshooter ONLY takes three pointers. Hooper has attempted 249 shots and all have been from deep where he makes 46 percent of them. On five different occasions he has MADE at least seven and last night went 8/11 from three.
Oakland is built to challenge the defensive wall that ODU likes to employ under Jeff Jones and ODU is built to counter all the fun that is the Oakland Grizzlies.
Kenpom is calling for a 74-73 Oakland victory.
The tip is at 10pm and televised on CBS Sports Network.