Previewing 2018-19 Men’s Basketball: Sacred Heart

boston college men's basketball

It’s clear that Boston College men’s basketball is finding its rhythm early in the season, recently handing Minnesota its first loss of the season and snapping a three-game losing streak in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Monday night. The Eagles (5-1) played especially well in the second half on both ends of the court, pulling away to a 68-56 win over the Gophers with apparent ease. Seeing as this was BC’s first quality win of the season—Minnesota was the 50th in KenPom’s rankings—the Eagles must refrain from getting too comfortable. They’ll seek to extend their winning streak against Sacred Heart (3-4) a team that will enter Conte Forum as the clear underdog on Thursday night. BC will need to be wary of its potent offense, though, to keep a winnable game from slipping through its fingers.

Who is BC playing?

Sacred Heart

Where is BC playing?

Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

When is BC playing?

Thursday, Nov. 29, 7 p.m.

How to Watch:

The game will be on the ACC Network.

By the numbers:

BC:

1) Ky Bowman is averaging 20.2 points per game and getting most of the attention, but his backcourt mate, freshman Wynston Tabbs, has enjoyed a tremendous start to his career with the Eagles. Tabbs is averaging 12.3 points per game and posted a career-high 17 against the Gophers.

2) Defensively, the Eagles have been stingy, only allowing 66 points per game—the result of an opposing field goal percentage of just 43.7 percent, 22nd in the country.

3) Nik Popovic played 18 minutes in BC’s loss to IUPUI, had a poor offensive rating of 44, then missed the next game with an injury. Since then, he’s enjoyed a strong two-game stretch, totaling 32 combined points in 45 total minutes. Against Minnesota, he was 9-of-9 from the field with six rebounds.

Sacred Heart:

1) Sean Hoehn is Sacred Heart’s offensive leader, averaging 21.9 points per game on 51 percent shooting from the floor. Hoehn could give the Eagles all sorts of trouble, as he is a 46.7 percent 3-point shooter and has been held under 20 points just twice thus far.

2) Florida Southern transfer Jarel Spellman has proven to make things difficult in the paint for opponents, blocking three shots per game, putting him in a tie for seventh in the nation. Spellman is by and large Sacred Heart’s only real defensive threat, however, as the Pioneers are 345th in defensive efficiency.

3) A pleasant surprise for Sacred Heart has been the play of freshman guard Cameron Porter. He’s been running the floor and currently averages 7.5 assists per game, on par with the likes of Michigan State’s Cassius Winston and Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins—both tied for sixth nationally.

Last Meeting:

BC has defeated Sacred Heart in both of its last two meetings, recording a 20-point victory over the Pioneers last year. That’s not to say it was a game without trouble, though, as the Eagles fell into their usual trap of struggling to put away weaker non-conference opponents in the early going. Sacred Heart led at the break, 31-30, but a 12-2 run near the beginning of the second half allowed BC to pull away. The Eagles outscored their visitors, 43-22, in the second half, ultimately leading by as many as 25 points in the final minutes of the game. Teddy Hawkins had 22 points in the win, while Steffon Mitchell chipped in with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Outlook:

BC will seek to continue its winning ways against Sacred Heart—and more importantly, the Eagles need to try to demonstrate that they’ve moved on from non-conference scares such as the IUPUI loss. BC has held opponents to low shooting percentages, but it’ll have to be especially careful to contain Hoehn, who plays almost 90 percent of the Pioneers’ minutes. A concerted defensive effort, similar to the Minnesota game, should ignite the Eagles’ offense, which needs to dominate the pace of play early on and not rely on a second-half surge. Sacred Heart’s strength is in its offensive capabilities, so it is crucial for the Eagles to keep the Pioneers from gaining confidence with a strong offensive showing early in the game. This shouldn’t be difficult, as BC is consistently gaining momentum offensively, possessing multiple weapons who’ve thrived lately in Jordan Chatman, Bowman, Tabbs, and Popovic. As long as the Eagles are able to take advantage of Sacred Heart’s defensive liabilities and enjoy a strong shooting night, they should be able to pick up their sixth win in seven games on Tuesday.

Featured Image by Jake Evans / Heights Staff