JSU men’s basketball narrowly loses to Florida International before OVC play

Senior Darian Adams (23) equalled his career-high with 20 points to go along with his two steals in JSU's matchup against FIU on Friday, Dec. 4. (Courtesy of JSU)Senior Darian Adams (23) equalled his career-high with 20 points to go along with his two steals in JSU's matchup against FIU on Friday, Dec. 4. (Courtesy of JSU)

Coley Birchfield, Correspondent

The Gamecocks’ trip to Miami, Fla. did not transpire as expected, as the men’s basketball team narrowly lost to Florida International, 74-70, on Friday, Dec. 4.

JSU (3-2) scheduled two games in Miami as their final tune-up before beginning Ohio Valley Conference play.

The most beneficial outcome of the weekend would have been two wins against a respectable Conference-USA opponent. However, Ray Harper’s team was handed a Friday night loss and a cancellation of their Sunday game.

Friday night’s 74-70 loss to Florida International (4-0) was the Gamecocks’ second of the season. The other came in their first game of the year against the Alabama Crimson Tide (3-1). 

The game against FIU, however, was historic as it marked the first meeting of the two since both were members of the Atlantic-Sun Conference from 1995 to 1998. The Panthers have now increased their record in those contests to 4-0.

Inconsistent scoring once again loomed over the JSU shooters, allowing the Panthers to put together multiple extended scoring runs. The most important of these came in the final minutes of the game, where the Gamecocks were outscored 16-6 by the Panthers who captured the 4-point victory.

“We have to do a better job of taking care of the ball, and we were 13-for-23 from the free-throw line,” Head Coach Ray Harper said after the game. “But we had key turnovers that we could have capitalized on.”

Senior Darian Adams continues to impress in his first season in Jacksonville. The Troy transfer equalled his career-high with 20 points to go along with his two steals. 

Adams seems to have played himself into a leadership role among the 2020-21 team. Something that Ray Harper is needing if a postseason berth is in the Gamecocks’ future.

Jalen Finch also helped the Gamecock with a 16-point performance, with 5 assists. Kanye Henry, JSU’s lone returning starter, ended the game with only 5 points. 

Jacksonville State’s next game is in Cookeville, Tenn., where the Gamecocks will play Tennessee Tech. The game is scheduled to take place on Sunday at 4 p.m. The second game against Tennessee Tech will be on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. It will be the first matchup of the season for the men’s team at Pete Mathews Coliseum.

Both games can be streamed live on ESPN+ or listened to on WLJS 91.9 FM, JSU’s student-run radio station.

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