Coley Birchfield, Correspondent
The Jacksonville State Gamecocks began the new calendar year with a 69-66 loss to Eastern Kentucky (10-2, 4-1 OVC) in an overtime thriller last Thursday, Jan. 7.
The game was a matchup of two top Ohio Valley Conference teams, and lived up to the hype. The two teams exchanged lead changes throughout the game, with great scoring performances on both teams.
“We had some chances and some great looks, but EKU capitalized on opportunities,” Head Coach Ray Harper said after the game.
The Gamecocks (7-3, 3-1 OVC) were able to force overtime but only scored 4 points during the period.
Four Gamecock players scored in the double-digits, including two double-doubles by Brandon Huffman and Juwan Perdue. It was the most consistent offense that JSU has seen all season. The Gamecocks were able to make key three-pointers, rely on Huffman’s rebounding, and capitalize on Colonel turnovers.
Huffman, the North Carolina transfer, showed why he grabbed the attention of the Tar Heels. He set new season highs in 8 stat categories, including his 16 points. Throughout the season, Huffman has made an impact on the court but hasn’t consistently backed it in his statistics.
“I thought Brandon Huffman took some major steps tonight,” Ray Harper said. “He was a manchild in there.” Huffman’s Thursday performance also included 4 blocks and 16 rebounds in 25 minutes of play.
The loss to EKU was the Gamecocks’ first in Ohio Valley Conference play, and their first since December 4, 2020. Belmont still holds the top seed in the OVC with an 11-1 record, followed by EKU at second and JSU falling to fourth.
“But we will move on,” said Harper. “We have a quick turnaround.”
The Gamecocks are set to face off against Tennessee State in Pete Mathews Coliseum tonight at 7:30 p.m., three hours after the women’s basketball team also faces off against Tennessee State. The game will be broadcast live on WLJS 91.9 FM, the student-run radio station of JSU, and streamed on ESPN+.