Based on the way they played in Monday night’s 89-79 comeback win over Florida Gulf Coast at Allen Arena Sanderson knows his players are understanding what he wants them to do. The win was the second Atlantic Sun win in a row for the Bisons.
“We are playing a little bit better, but we still have some room to improve,” Sanderson said. “We have been fairly consistent.
“Our guys are listening better, and that is important. We talk a lot about how well are they listening and how are they hearing what is being said. Their body language is saying that they are hearing what I am saying and that they are trying to do what I want them to do.”
Sanderson was especially pleased by the way his team performed when junior center Adnan Hodzic was forced to the bench for eight minutes of the first half as he was hit with two fouls and struggled to get the ball offensively.
“That’s the first time this year we have played for a long time without Adnan,” Sanderson said. “The first 19 minutes Florida Gulf Coast scored 32 points. In the last 10 minutes of the first half they scored nine and we made a bunch of shots ourselves. I was proud of how we responded offensively. And we played better defensively as well.”
Sanderson and his coaching staff will watch the game film to determine what they can do to help Hodzic.
“We want to see what they did on both ends to limit his touches,” Sanderson said. “Florida Gulf Coast is one of the longer, more athletic teams in our league. There are not a lot of teams in our league that length and athleticism. They did a good job on him. They can be out of position and block a shot because they are so athletic.”
The Bisons placed four players in double figures, three scoring 20 points or more. Sophomore guard Jordan Burgason scored 22 points. Senior guard Johnny Lee also added a career-high 22. Both were game highs. Junior forward Brandon Brown finished with 20.
“Jordan stepped up and made some shots,” Sanderson said. “Brandon was tremendous off of the bench.
“They gave Johnny some open looks and he jumped up. He shoots the ball well in practice. He made some big shots for us, especially in the first half to try to keep us close. That was his best game of the year by far for us.”
Hodzic had 10 points, extending his nation-leading double figure streak to 40 games. Junior guard Josh Slater added 10.
Both teams shot more than 50 percent from the field. Florida Gulf Coast hit 53 percent and the Bisons connected on 51 percent of their shots. In the first half Florida Gulf Coast shot 65.4 percent, falling to 44.1 percent in the second half.
“We got to them better in the second half,” Sanderson said. “We slowed them down in transition. We contested a lot of shots.
“They really got the same shots they had in the first half. They just missed them in the second half.”
The Bisons shot 15-of-33 attempts from 3-point range with 11 in the first half. Burgason made 6-of-10.
In the first half it was a case of the inside game of Florida Gulf Coast against the outside game of the Bisons. Florida Gulf Coast scored 26 points in the first half in the paint. The Bisons scored 40 points on the perimeter including 11 3-pointers.
The Bisons trailed from the start of the first half, trailing by nine points, 32-23, on a 3-point shot by guard Reggie Chambers with 10:25 before intermission.
From that point the Bisons went on a 20-7 run. They led for the first time at 2:09, 40-39. The run for the Bisons started with a free throw by Brown and ended with a 3-pointer by Burgason at 1:09.
The Bisons went into the dressing room with a 46-41 edge.
In the second half the Bisons opened up a nine-point lead, 52-43 as Burgason sank his second 3-pointer of the second half at 18:26.
Florida Gulf Coast trimmed the Bisons lead to three, 62-59, on a 3-point shot by guard Reed Baker with 12:53 remaining.
That would be the closest Florida Gulf Coast would get to the Bisons in the final 20 minutes.
With 8:52 left to play Lee dropped in a pair of free throws for a 71-61 lead, the biggest advantage by the Bisons at that point.
Slater scored inside at 3:32 to give the Bisons a 77-70 lead. Slater was fouled on the play and sank the free throw. His points ended a three-minute scoring drought by the Bisons.
Brown was on target with a 3-point shot with 2:20 on the clock to give the Bisons an 82-72 lead.
Baker led Florida Gulf Coast with 17 points. Forward Anthony Banks added 13 points followed by forward Kyle Marks with 12 and forward Derrick O’Neil with 11.
The Bisons are 6-7 overall, 3-1 in the A-Sun. Florida Gulf Coast is 5-8, 2-2 in the conference.
“You have to win your home games,” Sanderson said. “We will keep on peddling and go on to the next one.”
Saturday night at 6:15 the Bisons will play the third of four straight home games when USC Upstate visits.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations