As the seconds ticked down in the first half, and Tay Jones dribbled the ball around the perimeter, the Hawks had let a close game slip away into a 13 point Western Kentucky lead. With just a couple seconds left in the half, after Tay lost the ball, freshman CJ Aiken picked up the loose ball, hoisted a three, and connected, trimming the Western Kentucky lead to 10. Heading into halftime trailing by 10, there were plenty of reasons to be optimistic at the Hagan on Friday night. Freshman CJ Aiken put together an outstanding first half, Tay Jones was pushing the pace, and 11 players were getting minutes. There was a bit of a buzz in the air.
Fast forward an hour, and that buzz was a thing of the past. The 10 point halftime deficit ballooned up over 30 late in the second half, before the final buzzer left the Hawks 98-70 losers to Western Kentucky. The Hawks were led by Tay Jones and his 17 points. The Hawks also got 13 points and 7 rebounds from freshman guard Langston Galloway and 12 points and 5 rebounds from senior Idris Hilliard.
Statistically, the Hawks were outplayed in about every facet of the game. They were out-rebounded by 7, had 13 assists compared to Western Kentucky's 26, and shot 20 percent from 3 compared to WKU's 52 percent. Those are the ingredients to a resounding 28 point loss.
The complexion of the game changed around the 8 or 9 minute mark when the Hilltopper lead reached the mid-20's. At that point, the Hawks began to jack up 3's nearly every time down the court.
There were plenty of glimpses of the offensive potential of the team throughout the night. CJ Aiken, all 6'9 of him, canned two 3's. Tay Jones, Langston Galloway, and Justin Crosgile also showed an ability to score the ball. The glaring deficiencies for the team are on the defensive side of the ball. It will be interesting to watch the Hawks adjust their defensive approach as the season progresses.
On Tuesday night, the Hawks have their first road test at Penn State. Until then, they will lick their wounds and game-plan for their Big Ten opponent.
ESPN Box Score