Coley Birchfield, Correspondent
Jacksonville State’s men’s basketball team is now 0-2 in the new calendar year following a loss to Morehead State on Saturday, Jan. 9.
The 56-55 final was Jacksonville State’s (7-4, 3-2 OVC) second straight loss by 3 points or less. The other coming in overtime last Thursday, Jan. 7 to Eastern Kentucky.
JSU’s senior guard Darian Adams was given the game winning 3-point opportunity, but wasn’t able to capitalize. He finished the night with only 7 points after averaging just under 14 for the season.
Jalen Finch, one of Ray Harper’s many transfers, was the Gamecocks’ leading scorer with 13 points in 32 minutes of play. The most important of those coming in the 11-2 JSU scoring run to erase a 10 point Eagles (7-6, 4-2 OVC) lead in the second half.
Brandon Huffman also was impactful in all areas with a second straight double-double performance. He finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
“We have to get back to Jacksonville and keep getting better,” said Head Coach Ray Harper. “We have to play hard for 40 minutes every time out, and we have three days to get ready for a talented Tennessee State team.”
In order for the Gamecocks to challenge Belmont for the coveted OVC title, there are necessary improvements needed in key areas. Entering the MSU matchup, the Gamecocks ranked 254th in the NCAA in turnover margin (-2.0), 196th in free-throw percentage (68.9) and have the 178th worst field-goal percentage (44.1). There are 350 teams among the NCAA Division 1 basketball conferences.
That Tennessee State team will make their way to the Pete Mathews Coliseum tonight with a 2-6 record, 1-4 in Ohio Valley Conference play. That record may be deceiving, though, as the Tigers have played OVC leader Belmont twice and had 4 matchups postponed or cancelled.
The loss to Morehead State drops Jax State’s road record to 2-4 this season. It allowed the Eagles to jump JSU for the 4th spot in the OVC standings, pushing the Gamecocks to 5th.
Admission to all JSU home basketball contests is free to enrolled students with presented ID and children 12 and under. 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+.