This game wasn't much of a test for the Cyclones. The big thing I was looking for was how this team would play against an inferior opponent, and if they'd play down to the opponent's level. I would say that for about the first 10 minutes of the game, that the Cyclones did stoop to the Delta Devils' level, being down in the game by a couple of points.
Hilton was quiet. Students were on break, and there were more fans sitting in the upper section than the lower section, if you include the seats where Cyclone Alley normally sits. This was the first game that they announced over the PA that the people in the upper level could move to the lower level.
Once the fans moved down, the atmosphere got much better, and the Cyclones definitley had more of a bounce in their step. In College Athletics, I think it can be easy for a team to come out sluggish if the place is empty and/or the fans aren't into it. Having the lower bowl full, definitley helped, and then Gilstrap, Garrett, and Brackins took over the game, ending the 1st half on a 34-8 run.
Our star players really had their way in this one. Brackins was getting double and triple teamed often, but he they couldn't stop him. Gilstrap could so whatever he wanted with the ball: he was able to get open shots on the outside, and also was able to cut to the hoop to get in on an alley-oop or two.
Brackins had 28 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 3 steals in 29 minutes of play
Gilstrap had 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 25 minutes of play.
Garrett ran the floor nicely, and made some great passes in the lane. He had 6 points, 8 assists, 2 steals, and only turned the ball over 3 times. His ability to make smart decisions with the ball, and forcing multiple guys to close in on him, so he can kick it outside to Gilstrap, Lucca, Christopherson, Brackins, etc., is really helpful. Of course, it's also really helpful to have several guys that can turn that great pass into an assist by putting the ball in the hole. On this team, Garrett just needs to continue doing what he currently is. He's the 4th or 5th option on the floor, and that's alright. I also think he's doing much better on defense in forcing turnovers, but then again, he hasn't been facing the greatest of competition.
Two areas that this team could improve on is starting off the game more quickly, and also free throw shooting. Today, we shot 12/21 (57%) which isn't very good. Actually, on the year we are only shooting 63% from the line. When we play closer games against quality opponents, we'll need to hit those free throws.
All in all, this team rolled and it was nice to see them play at their level after a slow start. Up next is Tennessee State on Tuesday night. Hopefully we see more of the same and roll them by 40+ points as well.