Notebook: Eagles Defense Leads the Way in Victory over Miami

boston college men's basketball

In its second straight evenly-matched game, Boston College came out on top once again, knocking off Miami, 64-57. It was a respectable performance for the Eagles (13-11, 4-8 Atlantic Coast), as they played swarming defense, which resulted in one of the Hurricanes’ (11-14, 3-10) worst shooting nights of the season, and they got key contributions on both ends by several players. As they hit the road for two games, the Eagles will look to build on this two-game ACC win streak going forward. Here are six takeaways from Sunday night’s game:

1) BC’s defense played outstanding

Everybody played with energy on the defensive end for the Eagles. BC applied tremendous pressure and moved very well as a unit against the Miami offense, forcing it deep into the shot clock on numerous possessions, resulting in a large number of bad shots for the Hurricanes. Miami finished the game just 22-of-60 from the field, a 36.7 percent clip, and registered an offensive efficiency of just 86.8, its third-lowest mark this season. At the end of the first half, BC was even able to render the Hurricanes scoreless for the final three minutes.

2) No issues guarding the perimeter

The Eagles were able to clean up their 3-point defense and (for now) quiet the concerns regarding that area of their game. BC showed improvement getting to spots and contesting outside shots. Ultimately, it held a relatively good shooting Miami team to just a 15.4-percent clip from beyond the arc, including 1-of-13 in the second half. The Hurricanes had hit 24-of-56 (42.9 percent) from deep over the course of their last two games, but were unable to replicate that performance against a usually weak BC defense. Although Miami had a tough night connecting on any of its open looks, the numbers are encouraging for the Eagles after their recent stretch of perimeter defensive struggles.

3) Lykes held in check

Coming into the game, there were questions as to how BC would contain Miami’s 5-foot-7 point guard Chris Lykes, who averages 17.1 points per game. Boasting an uncanny driving ability, Lykes is also dangerous from distance and averaged 15.5 points in the two meetings with the Eagles last season. After scoring his first points by taking the ball right at Nik Popovic for a tough layup, it felt like it would be a long night for BC. That might have been his most impactful play of the game, though. Lykes finished the night with 10 points, but he was virtually a non-factor for the duration of the contest. He shot 3-of-15 from the field and did not make a single one of his eight attempts from beyond the arc. It ended up being one of those nights where Lykes simply didn’t have it, a bonus for the Eagles.

4) Careless turnovers allowed Miami to hang around

With the way the Hurricanes were shooting the basketball, it was shaping up to be a convincing win for BC. Instead, it was only a seven-point victory for the Eagles. This discrepancy could be related to poor ball security. On a 7-0 run with 7:22 to play in the first half, the Eagles were in rhythm on defense and looked poise to put a strong hold on the game. Turnovers, however, squandered opportunities for BC to score more and really pull away from Miami. The Eagles ended the half with just a four-point lead and 11 turnovers committed. While BC performed better on that front in the second half, turning the ball over just three times after the break, turnovers were one factor that enabled Miami to keep the game close.

5) Quiet scoring night for Bowman

Ky Bowman had his 32-game double-digit scoring streak snapped against the Hurricanes, likely the product of  dealing with a 102-degree fever yesterday. The junior gritted it out and was able to suit up, but only managed six points in 39 minutes played. Clearly, he was not in his usual shape on offense, hitting just three of his 11 shots while missing a lone 3-point attempt. While it was not a typical scoring night for the BC point guard, he was able to make his mark in other ways. Bowman facilitated the offense and was effective in getting his teammates involved, piling up eight assists and eight rebounds while registering a +7 net rating.

6) Chatman, Popovic step up

With Bowman not feeling 100 percent, head coach Jim Christian needed his other experienced players to step up—and that’s exactly what Popovic and Jordan Chatman did. Chatman powered the BC offense with a game-high 17 points. It was an efficient night for him, going 6-of-11 from the field and 3-of-7 from deep. Chatman also became the 44th member of the 1,000 point club at BC. His catch-and-shoot ability was too much for the Hurricanes to handle, as he continued his recent stretch of offensive success. Popovic was a force inside, meanwhile, helping the Eagles gain a 30-22 edge in rebounds, as he piled up 14 to go along with 15 points. While he eventually fouled out, Popovic played 37 minutes and had the highest net rating of any BC player at +12, outplaying his Miami counterpart, Ebuka Izundu, in what proved to be a pivotal matchup.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Senior Staff