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DF2_9533After defeating and upsetting South Florida last Saturday, many fans were confident that the Detroit Titans may be able to pull off another upset and defeat No. 11 Wichita State in the historic building we call, Calihan Hall this Saturday.

Although, the Titans had various opportunities to win this game and pull-off one of the school’s biggest upsets in history, the Titans unfortunately fell short, as they loss, 77-68 to Wichita State.

The most frustrating thing about this game was the fact that the Titans were more than capable of winning. In fact, throughout the game, they did multiple things well, which led to a 10 point lead in the middle of the second half.

However, their poor rebounding, costly turnovers and overall ability to close out the game hurt them in the end, which is why they are unfortunately on the losing end of this one.

Second Chance Points and Points Off Turnovers Hurt The Titans

Turnovers and rebounds have been two weak points for the Titans since the beginning of the season and both areas proved to be a problem for the Titans in their game against Wichita State which is one of the reasons that they loss this game.

When it came to the second chance points, the Titans allowed Wichita State to grab 18 offensive rebounds, which led to 12 second chance points for Wichita State. While I would like to say that this was just because Wichita State was taller, bigger and stronger, the truth is the Titans just didn’t box-out. To many times, in this game the Titans had multiple opportunities to grab the rebound and go. However, due to some players standing around or simply not hustling for the ball, Wichita State was able to grab rebounds and some of those 50/50 balls and score.

The turnovers were just as bad. Not only did the Titans finish with 13 turnovers but they allowed Wichita State to score 25 points off of those turnovers, which is completely unacceptable. Just like the poor rebounding, the countless turnovers could have been avoided. However, the minute Wichita State began to press the ball, Titans started to turn the ball over, which was a huge factor in Wichita State’s ability to get back into the game and take the lead after being down by 10 points.

Titans Must Learn Hot To Close Out and Taken Advantage Of All Opportunities

Besides the poor rebounding and costly turnovers, the Titans also need to learn how to close out strong. With under 12 minutes left in the game, the Titans held a 10 point lead with a chance to increase their lead over Wichita State and put the game out of reach early. However, like clock-work, the Titans began to miss shots and not capitalize on their opportunities.

Now, one of the reasons, they struggled to close out was because of the poor rebounding and costly turnovers that I mentioned earlier. However, one of their other missed opportunities was simply executing on open shots. To many times in this game, the Titans had open three-point shots that they could not make or even tough lay-ups that they struggled make.

While it’s easy to blame Wichita State’s comeback win on the Titans poor rebounding and turnovers. It doesn’t change the fact that the Titans lack of execution on open shots and tough lay-ups also hurt them. As I said before the game, Wichita State is not a team that you allow to hang around because if you allow them to hang around they will make you pay for it. That’s exactly what they did against the Titans.

Juwan Howard Jr. Played Like A Man Possessed 

That being said, it wasn’t all negative when it came to Detroit’s tough loss to Wichita State, as Titan senior Juwan Howard Jr  had big game for the Titans.

When it comes to the Titans this season, everyone knows that Howard Jr., has a lot to do with the success that the Titans have had so far this season. Although, he isn’t the most efficient when trying to score, it’s safe to say that against Wichita State, Howard Jr., played some of his best basketball, as he finished with 27 points while shooting 47 percent from the floor, allowing him to surpass the 1,000-point mark for Detroit.

Now, if you ask me, Howard Jr., was just feeling it. He came into the game and hit from anywhere and everywhere, as he basically looked like a man possessed. Nevertheless, that doesn’t change the fact that Howard Jr., played efficient basketball for the first time all season. Normally, I can only give him credit for stepping up in the clutch while I fault him for taking unnecessary shots throughout the game or for not hitting his wide open shots. However, in this game, I don’t have the bring up those faults, because for the most part Howard took good shots and executed on those shots.  Don’t get me wrong, because he definitely had his faults in this game but for the most part he played good basketball and he was one of the key reasons that the Titans were able to have a shot in this game and nearly win.

Brandan Kearney and Bass Continue To Contribute In Various Ways

Keep in mind that it wasn’t just Howard Jr., who stepped up for the Titans today. A number of other Titans stepped up for the Titans too, including senior Brandan Kearney and freshman Paris Bass, who found various ways to contribute throughout the game.

Now when it comes to Bass, he struggled to get into a rhythm, as he struggled to get penetration and hit his shot from beyond the arc. However, the thing that stood out about Bass, was the fact that his offensive struggles didn’t stop him from making an impact in other areas. Whether it was defensively or on the boards, Bass found a way to make an impact, as he finished with eight rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal. Although he struggled offensively, he still found a way to score, as he finished with 12 points. Once again proving my point that while he may have plenty to learn, he has the potential to be an elite threat for the Titan for many years to come, as long as he remains humble and receives proper development.

The same goes for Kearney. Now I know if you look at the stat sheet, you will see that Kearney only finished with eight points and five rebounds, which some may not see as good. However, what the stats don’t tell you is that Kearney was once again “Mr.Hustle” for the Titans today. Whenever they needed someone to dive on the floor for a loose ball, Kearney was the guy. When they needed someone to take the hard blow and get the charge or make a good defensive play, or even hit that big three-point shot to take the lead, Kearney was the guy. Although, he fouled out with only seconds left in the game, he proved once again that he is all-around player who can score, defend, rebound, create and lead, making his role that much more important to the Titans this season.

Matthew Grant Shows That He Can Be A Good Floor General

Earlier this week I wrote an article on sophomore guard Matthew Grant, who’s said one of his main goals this season, is to become the elite floor general that the Titans need.  In that article, I wrote that I see Grant as initiator, which is point guard, who can come down the court and get the team into the offense, while also showing the ability to score if needed.

While it may have gone under the radar today, due to Howard Jr.’s great play. Keep in mind that Grant, also had a good game, as he finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal. Thus, proving my point that he is slowly but surely coming into his role as the floor general of this team.

To be honest, Grant was probably the second or third best player on the court today. Despite being the smallest person on the floor, Grant found a way to make an impact in every area of the stat sheet. When it came to distributing, he was very unselfish as he was always willing to make the extra pass. When it came to scoring, he took good shots and was not afraid to go to the rim and initiate contact as he made all three of his free throws. Then if that’s not enough, he was also physical as he hit the boards and grabbed seven rebounds. Most importantly, Grant played efficient basketball, as he only turned the ball over once for the Titans in this game.

So while, some may not consider this to be a coming out party, I think Grant proved to everyone that he can be floor general of this team right now and for many years to come. Remember, that Grant is only a sophomore, meaning that he has two more years of college basketball ahead of him to get even better, which is a scary thought when you think of his overall potential.

Titans Suffer A Tough Loss But They Are Learning and Getting Better

At the end of the day, the Titans put together a good overall effort in their tough loss to Wichita State. While this loss does sting because the Titans had the opportunity to win, it’s doesn’t change the fact that the Titans are learning and getting better each game.

It’s because of that reason that I feel the Titans don’t have time to think about this tough loss. They need to simply to take the positive and negative from this game, learn from it and get ready for their next game.

In fact, they need to get ready for this big three game road trip because on this trip they will be facing the likes of Central Florida, Rhode Island and Arizona State. If the Titans can go on the road and at least win two out of those three games, the Titans will be in good shape returning to the historic Caihan Hall.

Up Next

The Titans will pack-up for an eight-day road trip covering more than 7,000 miles as Detroit visit Central Florida, Rhode Island and Arizona State. The first game against UCF is scheduled for Wednesday (Dec. 17) at CFE Arena. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN3.

Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Producer of “The Morning Heat” on Hot 107.5 and Sports Editor of Radio One Detroit

For more of L-Beasley’s (Lauren Beasley) sports news and in-depth sports content, click here.

Missed Opportunities Hurt Detroit As No. 11 Wichita State Escapes Defeat was originally published on wchbnewsdetroit.com

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