Men’s basketball keeps perfection

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Justin Chapman | Echo

Taylor’s men’s basketball team cannot stop winning. No matter how ugly or pretty the wins have been, the team stands at 6–0 roughly two weeks into the season.

Taylor won on Wednesday night against Moody Bible Institute. This game got out of hand quickly for Moody Bible, as Taylor jumped to a 9–0 lead and ended the first half on a 17–0 run with the score at 58–28 going into halftime. The Trojans finished the game with the scoreboard in their favor reading 105–65.

The Trojans saw all 14 players receive playing time, with sophomore guard Mason Degenkolb leading the way in points with 24 in just 24 minutes. The Trojans shot 54.7 percent from the field overall and made 83.3 percent of their free throws.

Another recent victory appeared to be over in the first half. But, then the second half came, and it turned into a different story.

The Trojans led by 19 points against Governors State last Friday in the first half, however their lead was trimmed to three points in the second half.

Junior guard Evan Crowe started the game off smoking against the Jaguars, sinking his first two three-point attempts to bring the lead to 6–0 right off the bat.

Taylor enjoyed a successful first half, shooting 43.6 percent from the field. The success did not continue into the second half, as the Trojans only shot 28 percent from the field.

“I feel like we got a little comfortable,” said sophomore guard Ryan Robinson. “That’s been a big thing for us so far this season is playing a full 40 minutes and really just being hungry the whole game and not being complacent with a little lead and being able to break it open.”

Head coach Josh Andrews thinks Governors State made some solid adjustments on defense going into the second half. He also attributes the Trojans’ shooting woes in the second half to Taylor not playing within their own system for periods of time.

The game of basketball is a game of runs. In the NAIA, the shot clock is 30 seconds, which creates a fast paced game. Making consecutive stops on defense and converting consecutive baskets on offense can help a team make a comeback.

Taylor is fortunate to have a high-powered offensive team; however, they cannot solely rely on their offense.

“(Andrews) has talked a lot about that, just having a defensive identity,” said freshman guard Vincent Miranda. “When things aren’t going our way on the offensive end, we can really still be able to beat teams like that even when things aren’t going our way.”

It’s still early on in the season, and defense is something that takes time to work on and get better at.

The Trojans are training well and preparing for some difficult matches ahead.  Four out of their next five games are against teams who are nationally ranked or are receiving votes in the national poll.

According to Andrews, the team tries to win each day and have a present-minded attitude. They do not look past anyone and want to be excellent every single day.

Andrews also said possessing several key bench players is key for being a successful team and making a deep run in the playoffs, which is one of Taylor’s goals. One of the Trojans’ best bench players is Robinson.

“He’s just been so tough in his role, and he brings instant energy,” Andrews said. “He’s a fun guy to play with, (he) makes a lot of great decisions and he can score it different ways and help other guys get open. I’m very proud of how he handles himself and the energy that he brings to our team. He’s a huge part of our success.”

Robinson is averaging 16.2 points per game this season and playing an average of 24.8 minutes per game. His field goal percentage is 49.3 percent, knocking down 33–67 shot attempts.

The Trojans will soon be challenged by highly ranked opponents, starting tonight as they face No. 9 IU-East in Odle Arena at 7 p.m.

“Photograph by Brad Timmerman”