Three thoughts on RMU’s win over North Florida

Dante Verme, Staff Reporter

Here are three thoughts on Robert Morris’ 81-77 victory in the “First Four” of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

1: The “Big Three” make a statement.

The trio of senior Lucky Jones, Jjunior Rodney Pryor and freshman Marcquise Reed willed Robert Morris to victory Wednesday night. The three men alone combined for 60 of Robert Morris’s 81 points, with Jones’s 21 points coming in an off the bench role; only seven of them in a rough first half for the Second Team All-NEC Selection and Robert Morris

“I wasn’t really feeling that much lucky” said Jones. “But I just let the game swing into our hands.”

With the score 35-29 in favor of North Florida, the trio set into gear as all three men were able to score double digits in the second half, with the freshman Reed leading the way; scoring 15 of his game total 19 points in the second 20. It was his teammates that would help the NEC Rookie of the year find his groove.

“They just kept talking to me throughout the game,” said the Landover, Maryland native. “Kept motivating me saying we need you to score so we can win this game. So pic your head up and just continue to play your game, we’re going to be fine and that’s exactly what I did.”

Pryor on the other hand, was the team’s leading scorer going into halftime. And after tallying 12 points in the second half, many of them with a big smile on his face; he let the media in as to way the smile was showing on the face of the Second Team All-NEC Member.

2: Had to Break in the Dance Shoes

All the members of this season’s Robert Morris Squad were not around when the Colonials last went dancing in 2010 (a heartbreaking lost to then No. 2 seed Villanova.)

The Colonials, who were the under dogs to North Florida’s high powered offensive and 8 game winning streak into their first ever appearance in the big dance.

Early in the contest, it seemed the Colonials youth and inexperienced on the biggest stage in college basketball showed. Meanwhile the Ospreys looked like the tournament veterans, taking advantages of early Colonials mistakes and led by Beau Beech who paced all players in the first half in points as North Florida shot 58.4 percent from the field in the first 20. Northern Florida started the second half hot as it was Beech, who started the half drilling two long distance three pointers and gave the Ospreys their largest lead of the evening at 13.

Then, the Colonials had finally found their stride, led by the aforementioned trio of Jones, Pryor and Reed. The defensive side of the ball, in particular the 2-3 zone run b head coach Andy Toole really gave North Florida trouble in the second half. North Florida shot only 39.3  percent in the second half compared to a impressive 58.3 percent in the first half. North Florida also had trouble with ball management, the Colonials caused 19 turnovers while offensively, RMU only turned the ball over five times the entire game.

“They lead their league in steals,” said North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll (a native of Pittsburgh.) “I made a comment about that, about what they do with the ball and how they get so many steals out of their zone and to their credit they were able to turn those into buckets. And you gotta give them credit.”

3: Bring on the Blue Devils

Robert Morris’ victory over North Florida sets the Colonials up for a matchup with the number one seed in the East Region and number two ranked school in the AP Polls, the four time national champion Duke Blue Devils.

Led by freshman sensation Jahlil Okafor, the first ever freshman in the history of the Atlantic Coastal Conference to win ACC Player of the Year, the Blue Devils with legendary coach Mike Kryzewski, will be, needless to say, a handful for Robert Morris to deal with if they look to become the first every 16th seeded school to beat a No. 1 seed.

To make matters worse, the game will take place at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, a two hour drive from the Duke campus in Durham. Meanwhile, it’s a seven hour drive from Robert Morris.

No. 16 Robert Morris will take on No. 1 Duke Friday night. Tip off is set for 7:00 p.m. in Charlotte.