When assessing the offensive impact he and Karvel Anderson have had this season, Lucky Jones is forthcoming.
“You can’t guard both of us at the same time,” the Robert Morris junior forward said Thursday after a 66-60 victory at Saint Francis.
He has no reason to say otherwise because he and Anderson are as good of a scoring tandem as there is in the Northeast Conference.
With Anderson emerging as a prohibitive favorite for NEC player of the year while scoring 19.2 points per game and Jones providing a nice complement at 14 points per game, the Colonials have thrived on the mismatches these two have created.
“If you’re going to go on me, you’re going to allow him to do whatever he wants, and, if you go on him, then you’re going to have to settle for a pull-up [jump shot] or go to the basket with me,” Jones said. “Teams have a hard time adjusting to the both of us.”
The duo’s importance became much more crucial in the past month as Robert Morris’ roster has been depleted by suspensions and defections.
Since the start of conference play (Jan. 9), Anderson and Jones have accounted for 47.2 percent of the Colonials’ points. Since the emergence of the eight-man roster, the duo has scored 54.9 percent of the team’s points (862 of 1,571).
Most important, that success has translated into productive late-game situations for a team that has won eight of its past 10 by single digits.
In Robert Morris’ past five games decided by fewer than 10 points, Anderson and Jones have been responsible for 50.8 percent of the team’s points in the final five minutes.
“Our guys understand that in late-game situations, he and Lucky are going to have opportunities to make shots and make plays and get some of the space they need to operate,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said.
There is another wrinkle — the overall success of the team that has come with those points.
The Colonials are 10-1 in the NEC and, by virtue of their season sweep of second-place Bryant, they have what amounts to a 21⁄2-game lead in the conference before Friday night. If it can win three of its remaining five NEC games, Robert Morris will win the title.
As important as their one-two scoring punch has been, the Colonials are still a team with a small margin of error, given their lack of depth. Anderson and Jones are pillars of the team’s offensive game plan, but, to maintain its current run, Robert Morris knows it can’t rely solely on a two-man game.
“We’ve got to continue to play hard,” Jones said. “It’s not just us two — it’s multiple guys on this team. We need all eight.”
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.