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Morgan State Bears

Virginia returns from four straight games on the road (three at Atlantis plus a road date at Maryland) to catch its breath with Morgan State. The MEAC program may make noise in its conference this year, but is it any position to do damage against our ACC powerhouse?

Game Details:

Date/Time:Monday, December 3rd, 7:00 pm ET
Location:John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
TV:ACCX

 

What 'They' Say

Vegas:UVA -34.5, O/O 133.5, equates to a 83-50 UVA win
TAPE:Ranks Morgan St #280, Predicts an 83-51 UVA win, 100% confidence
KenPom:Ranks Morgan St #324, Predicts an 82-51 UVA win, 99.7% confidence

 

Depth Chart:

Starters
PG#2 Martez Cameron, 5'11" 185, SR
26.0 mpg, 7.2 ppg, 3.0 apg, .571 3P%
SG#5 Sherwyn Devonish-Prince Jr., 6'1" 160, FR
26.0 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 2.8 apg, .200 3P%
SF#0 Stanley Davis, 6'4" 185, JR
21.2 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, .415 FG%
PF#32 David Syfax, 6'7" 205, JR
19.2 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, .366 FG%
C#23 Jordan Little, 6'8" 240, JR
14.0 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, .480 FG%
Key Reserves
PG#4 Kyson Rawls, 6'1" 190, SO
16.7 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 2.0 apg, .217 3P%
G#13 Tyler Streeter, 6'4" 190, SR
11.3 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 0.5 apg, .667 3P%
G#11 Malik Miller, 6'4" 185, FR
14.7 mpg, 4.7 ppg, 1.0 apg, .667 3P%
F#3 Victor Curry, 6'8" 215, JR
14.5 mpg, 3.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, .429 FG%

 

The ABC's of Morgan State:

A) They prefer not to shoot the 3. Morgan State is in the bottom 10 nationally in the percentage of their shots they take from deep, only 27% (the national average is 38.6%). Part of this is because they prefer to attack in transition. But it's strange, because while they're a relatively poor team scoring at the rim (42.3% from 2, 330th nationally), they hit a respectable 34.3% as a team from deep, above the national average (33.8%). Five players are hitting better than 39% on their limited attempts: Streeter (67%), Burke (39%), Miller (67%), Cameron (57%), and Syfax (43%).

B) They're abysmal protecting the glass. This is a combination of (a) their pressure defense and (b) their lack of size, but the end result is that opponents O-Rebound at a 41.5% clip, 4th worst nationally (the average is 28.9%). Nova grabbed 16, St Francis and DePaul 17, and Mt St Mary's 20. Given our advantages in size and athleticism, Virginia could feast on second chance points from the front court, even with our commitment to getting guards back in transition defense.

C) They're incredibly balanced. It's very interesting seeing a Morgan State team with zero double-digit scorers, but instead they've got 9 guys averaging between 4 and 9 ppg, and 3 players (Davis, Streeter, Devonish-Prince) tied for the scoring lead at 8.7 ppg. No one averages more than 9 shots a game. They're relatively unselfish, averaging an assist on about half of their field goals. Additionally, the bench is just as likely to get into the action as the starters... with starters only playing 56% of the game, Morgan State is 3rd nationally in the percentage of minutes given to the bench.

 

Their Season To Date

Morgan State is 2-4 on the year. It has wins over Navy and Mount St. Mary's bookending their Thanksgiving, and losses to all four KenPom Top 200 teams it's faced: Villanova, St Francis, DePaul, and most recently George Mason (a game it actually led by 9 late in the first half).

 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Protect the ball. Coming off a game where we committed an absurdly low 2 turnovers, you may think this is no big deal, but Morgan State is actually a respectably strong team in this regard. They forced 14 TOs from Villanova, 18 from DePaul, 23 from Navy, and 26 from Mt St Mary's. It's a primary focus of their defense, and they rank top 50 nationally in creating turnovers, top 60 in live ball steals. If Morgan State wants to make things interesting, it will be because they pick on our guards getting sloppy with ball handling and ball movement, especially if we give extended run to the reserves. In addition to allowing our offense to get on track, it will also prevent Morgan State from getting easy offense of their own; this is a team that doesn't like to run half-court sets, and prefers to score quick off those turnovers.

2) Live in the paint on offense. Don't get cute here, no need to live and die with contested 3-ball's as our offensive strategy. The Bears are ineffectual defending the paint, allowing teams to shoot nearly 54% on 2's, while actually limiting their opponents to only 31% from deep. We've got a size and speed advantage, as well as crisp offensive sets, it'll be easy to find paint looks if we dedicate ourselves to it. Even worse, the Bears are foul prone (at about the 10th percentile in defensive FT Rate), and the more we attack the paint, the more we can exploit that to pad our margin at the charity stripe and wear them down.

3) Find ways to get the reserve bigs involved. This is admittedly more of a "nice to have," but this has the potential to be a nice matchup to give 20 minutes apiece to Mamadi, Huff, and Key, even at times in a 2-big (or supersized with Key at the 3) lineup, which will allow the starters to stay fresh after a busy last couple of weeks. All three of those players will have a size and skill advantage over their respective Bears opponents, and given the Bears struggles on the glass, it will be a nice test to see how well they can handle an extended opportunity and maybe build some confidence.

 

 

Predictions:

This may be our last chance to see the Green Team in extended action for a while; starting next weekend, the rest of our schedule is filled with at worst respectable mid-majors. But the Green Team we shall see.

Morgan State will be very overwhelmed in this one, and I expect the starters will be able to build up a solid cushion in the first half by taking away the Bears' transition opportunities and attacking them efficiently at the rim.

Hoos cruise.

Hoos Win 82-44