Saturday, April 17, 2010

After Game 1 loss in Tulsa, can the 66ers regroup?

The answer is yes, but it's going to take a complete turnaround from Friday night's performance against Iowa to make it happen during Game 2 in Des Moines, set for Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. CT.

Here are five key elements to Sunday's Game 2...

Defense -- Tulsa, which has prided itself on defense often throughout the season, needs to come out of the tunnel in Des Mounes showing the defensive intensity it displayed in the fourth quarter on Friday night. When Tulsa had its defense cranked up, it made a difference. The 66ers shot 12-for-25 in the final period thanks to some turnovers and quick baskets, and outscored the Energy 37-30 over the game's final 12 minutes to almost pull off the comeback.

Mustafa Shakur's foot -- The All-Star point guard played just the first half on Friday night before being pulled with a foot injury. 66ers officials said Shakur missed the second half for precautionary reasons, so we'll see how he feels for Sunday's game. Shakur had just two points on 1-for-7 shooting before being injured. Wink Adams did a nice job picking up the slack at point guard in Shakur's absence. After not playing in the first half, Adams finished with seven points and ran the 66er offense with precision in crunch time.

Controlling Curtis Stinson -- The Iowa All-Star made some big shots and grabbed some big rebounds on Friday. He's a great player ... but a guard getting 17 rebounds? Tulsa has to play better defense and keep Stinson away from the basket, even when he doesn't have the ball.

Marking the D&D boys -- Denham Brown and Darian Townes were HUGE on Friday night, combined for 48 points and 21 boards. Townes was a non-factor the last time Iowa came to town (five points in two games off the bench) while Brown wasn't even on the team. The two looked unstoppable at times on Friday night, and Tulsa can't let that continue.

Latavious -- The boy has grown into a man. He looked intense on Friday night, going 4-for-7 from the field and grabbing five boards in just under 14 minutes of playing time. Maybe his athleticism would help Tulsa in the battle for rebounds with more time on the court.

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