Analysis: Dixon and Smith shine in win Dec. 7

Blake Faith, Men's Basketball Reporter

The Daily Eastern News
Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News
Eastern’s George Dixon goes up above a Green Bay defender for a layup attempt in the Panthers’ 93-80 Dec. 7 in Lantz Arena. Dixon led the team with 24 points and 13 rebounds in the game.

In Eastern’s 93-80 win over Green Bay, the Panther offense benefited from the hard work of junior George Dixon and the shooting consistency of junior Mack Smith that if repeated can become even more cogs on a team that can be successful in the OVC.

Dixon led the Panthers in blocks, points and rebounds, gassing Green Bay. Dixon’s numbers were 24 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks and 1 steal.

Dixon consistently put himself in position to block those shots.

Whether it was sliding over or hustling back, Dixon controlled his positioning on each of his blocked shots.

“Just go out there and go hard,” Dixon said when asked about his mentality of how he played. “I just play for my team and make sure that I’m a good teammate out there. I’m making sure that everyone has the opportunity to play hard and I try to be a role model out there.”

Dixon also does the same thing for his rebounds which is why he leads the OVC with 9.1 rebounds per game. Dixon had 13 rebounds against Green Bay and seven of those were offensive.

Dixon’s rebounding positioning is something head coach Jay Spoonhour says cannot be coached or taught to a player.

Dixon, in the game against Green Bay, fought every time for a position edge for a rebound and it showed in the box score and also helped generate his offense.

“He pursues every time and you have to do that,” Spoonhour said. “You have to recruit that, it is a very hard thing to coach, teach or work on during a drill. They were trying to block George out and he still goes and gets seven offensive rebounds.”

Dixon scored 24 points against Green Bay, but most of his points came in the paint and he used his offensive rebounds to his advantage. Dixon scored off put backs from his rebounds and also put himself in position to score while only missing four shots total against Green Bay.

Dixon offensively will get a pass in the post and create space, whether with a spin move or a quick first step, that he uses to get to the basket and finish at the rim.

Smith bounced back against Green Bay. Against Fort Wayne, Smith shot 4-of-11 from the field including 3-for-9 from three. A lot of Smith’s shots in the Fort Wayne game were either rushed shots or shots that looked good but could not fall.

Smith started the game looking comfortable, making a mid-range jumper and a driving layup to get his first four of 24 points of the game. Midway through the first half Smith notched his NCAA-leading 58th straight game with a three-pointer made when he made his first of three three-pointers in the game.

Smith used his ability to drive to his advantage as five of Smith’s nine free throw attempts came from his ability to draw fouls. The other four came from the technical fouls received by Green Bay’s head coach Linc Darner.

Smith did not rush his shots against Green Bay. For his three-point shots, Smith relocated to open spots on the floor and had plenty of room to shoot the ball.

Smith finished the game 3-4 from the three-point line, 7-9 from the field, and 7-9 from the free-throw line.

The Panthers improved to 5-4 on the season and 3-0 at home. In each of Eastern’s three home games the Panthers have scored over 90 points.

The men’s basketball team will play Milwaukee Saturday. The game will tip off at 7 p.m.

Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]