By Joel Weckerly, Sports Editor
The men’s basketball team may have whipped visiting opponent Texas-Permian Basin, 96-75, Saturday in its regular season opener, but head coach Klint Pleasant wasn’t impressed.
“I was very displeased with our effort,” the second-year coach said. “We didn’t play with much energy. I don’t know if it was a mental lapse coming off the Toledo game or what. We made our typical early-season mistakes, and that combined with the lack of intensity was disappointing.”
ACU (1-0) turned the ball over 22 times in the game and shot just 46 percent (32 for 70) from the floor, including 24 percent (5 for 21) from three-point range. The Cats were also shaky from the free throw line, shooting 48 percent (27 for 56) in the win.
“It almost felt like there was a bubble over the basket,” Pleasant said of the foul shooting. “Unfortunately, there’s going to be nights like that where the ball won’t fall in the basket.”
However, the Wildcats held the Falcons (0-5) to just 36 percent shooting from the floor, 31 percent from three-point range and forced 25 turnovers.
“My expectations are pretty high,” Pleasant said. “On the stat sheet, we weren’t too bad. Maybe that’s a good sign this early in the season.”
Junior guard David Baxter, a transfer from Division I University of Detroit, made an impressive debut in a Wildcats jersey Saturday, leading all scorers with 23 points while shooting 4-of-9 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Senior forward Tucker Pierson returned to usual form, chipping in 15 points while leading all rebounders with 14. Senior guard Cliff Green added 14 points and five assists, while newcomer Atiba Alexander-a freshman transfer from David Lipscomb-recorded 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Pleasant said UTPB-which only had two scorers in double figures-had far too many second-chance offensive rebounds (16), a statistic he wants to minimize this season.
“We did a pretty good job in the first half of keeping them from getting second shots,” Pleasant said, “but I thought we gave up too many in the second half (12).”
The Wildcats return to action Friday and Saturday at their own Quality Inn-ACU Tip-off Classic, beginning with a 6 p.m. game Friday against Paul Quinn.
“I’ve already stressed [my displeasure] to the team,” Pleasant said. “We have four days to get after it in practice.”