GAME NOTES: The Jacksonville State Gamecocks and North Carolina A&T Aggies square off on Saturday afternoon for first place in the Visitors Bracket of the Global Sports Classic.
The Gamecocks snapped a two-game losing streak on Friday with a hard-fought 50-48 win over Northern Arizona. JSU dropped its previous two games as it ran into a pair of tough opponents in UNLV and Oregon. The triumph over the Lumberjacks improved the team's record to 4-2 heading into the final segment of this tournament. Despite the win, JSU never got into a rhythm at the offensive end versus NAU. It made just 32.6 percent of its shots from the floor and only 2-of-10 from three-point range, but managed to come out on top by forcing the Lumberjacks into 20 turnovers, which were turned into 26 points. The Gamecocks scored just 50 points after coming in averaging 67.2 ppg.
NC A&T went into its Friday night bout with Campbell on a four-game slide in which it was being downed by an average of 26 ppg. The Aggies looked to have new life as they coasted to an 85-60 decision over the Campbell Fighting Camels. A&T shot a blistering 60.8 percent from the floor in the game and knocked down eight 3-pointers, and its defensive effort held the Camels to a mere 33.9 percent shooting effort from the field, including just 5-of-26 from behind the arc. The scoring output was a season-high and it eclipsed the previous mark versus a Division I opponent by 28 points.
The Aggies won the only previous meeting between these schools on the hardwood.
JSU's starters combined to go 11-of-30 from the floor in its win on Friday, but Tarvin Gaines came off the bench to provide a spark with team-highs of 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes of action. Darlon Rackley, who also came off the pine, managed to score 10 points by sinking 10-of-17 at the charity stripe to overcome an 0-of-5 shooting performance from the floor. Senior guard Ronnie Boggs appeared to be the team's go-to-guy early on this season with double-digit scoring efforts in his first four outings, but he is just 4-of-19 from the floor for 10 points over his past two outings. The Gamecocks do not have a player that stands out from the pack, but they are getting it done with a balanced effort as nine players are seeing at least 13 minutes of action per game, and seven of them are producing at least five points per outing.
The Aggies may have found their future in Friday's win, as Bruce Beckford came into the contest with modest averages of 3.8 ppg and 3.6 rpg but the freshman forward equaled his season total by scoring 19 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting effort. However, He was not the only NC A&T player to perform well, as junior guard Lamont Middleton raised his team-best scoring average to 12.8 ppg by netting 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He also dished out a season-high five assists. Adrian Powell more than doubled his scoring average with 14 points, while Jean Louisme and R.J. Buck tallied 13 points apiece. Buck's shooting was flawless, as he made all three of his attempts from beyond the arc, his only two-point attempt, and both of his tries at the charity stripe.
The Aggies can prove that their outburst on Friday was no fluke against a solid JSU squad. The Gamecocks showed they are capable of playing with anyone when they lost the second half of their game at UNLV by just a single point. Like many others who visit Las Vegas, the Aggies will run out of luck before they leave town.
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