With the 49ers nearing its midpoint, here is the teams' midterm report
Picked eighth in the Conference USA preseason poll for the 2016-2017 season, the Charlotte 49ers currently sit in the 10th spot midway through conference play (10-10, 4-5 C-USA).
The 49ers have gone through their highs and lows during their first nine games of conference action, with nine games remaining before heading to Birmingham, Alabama, for the C-USA tournament. Let’s take a look back on how Charlotte has performed at the midway point.
Charlotte got off to a hot start in their first game against North Texas on Dec. 31, winning 101-76, looking like they were on a mission to prove the coaches around the league wrong with their preseason ranking. Offensively, Andrien White led the way with 20 points, including three makes from downtown, on a night that Charlotte shot 14-of-20 from three-point land. Also, the 49ers dropped 20 dimes on the hardwood, while forcing 21 turnovers for the Mean Green.
Game grade: A+
After their convincing win against the Mean Green, the 49ers dropped their first game in conference play against Rice, 89-70. In the game, Charlotte held their own in the first half, but broke down defensively in the second half, surrendering 51 points, including 25 points to Marcus Evans. That night, the 49ers allowed four players for the Owls to score over 16 points.
Game grade: D+
Traveling for the first time in conference action, the 49ers lost in a hard-fought battle against a talented Western Kentucky team, losing 80-82. Charlotte held their own in the first half, but trailed by five heading into the break. Using another great three-point performance from White and Hudson Price, who both hit three shots from long range, the 49ers started their comeback in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Their comeback was not good enough though, as WKU got to the line late and capitalized at the charity stripe in the final minutes. Defensively, Charlotte held their own, out-rebounding the Hilltoppers 35-28.
Game grade: B-
Staying on the road, the 49ers lost to Marshall 110-93 in a high scoring affair, and for the second time this season, allowed a team to score over 100 points. The 49ers filled up the stat sheet with six players scoring in double figures, including 20 points from Anthony Vanhook and nine rebounds, but allowed four players to score over 15 points, including 29 from Jon Elmore and 24 from Ryan Taylor. Again, the failure to get stops on defense lost Charlotte the game.
Game grade: C-
Charlotte hosted Louisiana Tech on Jan. 12, playing one of their most complete games of the season, but still fell 73-79 in another close game in Halton. The 49ers looked dead early and could have easily rolled over and let La. Tech run away with a win, but fought back hard and outscored the Bulldogs 42-34 in the second half. Braxton Ogbueze played one of his best games as a Niner that night, nailing seven three pointers, totaling 26 points. The Achilles’ heel for Charlotte was their inability to hold on to the ball, committing 15 costly turnovers to lose it down the stretch.
Game grade: C+
The 49ers got back to their winnings ways with a 82-66 victory over Southern Miss. This was Charlotte’s best game from start to finish in C-USA play. During the game, the 49ers only allowed two players to score in double-digits, and also held the Golden Eagles to 32.3 percent shooting from the field. Also in the game, Charlotte out-rebounded USM 44-40 for just the second time this season, while using five double-digit scorers to blow by Southern Miss and knocking down 10 threes.
Game grade: A+
Davis, who is arguably one of the best players in C-USA, averages 19.6 points per game and has scored 391 points this season, which is good for fourth in the conference. Attempting to flip the script from last season’s close games, Davis set his career-high in points with 35 against Old Dominion on Jan. 21, while also knocking down a shot at the buzzer to beat ODU 74-72. The team also shot an incredible 24-of-28 from the free throw line.
Game grade: A+
After Davis’ clutch shot, Charlotte flew down south to Denton, Texas, ultimately defeating North Texas for the second time this season, 82-81, picking up another close-game win. That win, which marked their third win in a row, was a game that showed the depth of Charlotte, using six double-digit scorers to capture the victory. Quentin Jackson, a freshman from Raleigh, North Carolina, knocked down eight free throws in the final three minutes to propel Charlotte past the Mean Green.
Game grade: A
In their last game, Charlotte lost 67-84 against Rice, not being able to handle the fire power of Egor Koulechov and Evans, both scoring 23 points. Although Charlotte lost the game by 17, they had five players score in double digits and forced 18 turnovers, compared to their nine.
Game Grade: C+