Justin Travis, Correspondent
Starting off the month of March like they finished off the month of February, JSU returned to action in the second round of the ASUN conference to play in front of a packed out and rowdy Pete Mathews Coliseum. The energy in the stadium from the thousands in attendance surged the men’s team to a 78-67 win on a late Thursday afternoon game.
The game started with each team getting into their half-court offenses, running the motions and using the screens to free up open looks. The Gamecocks focused more on low post scoring early to counter the long range shooting from Kennesaw State. Through the first ten minutes of play JSU was able to take a 21-20 lead scoring 16 points in the painted area.
As time continued to tick off the clock in the first half, it was clear that each team was in a rhythm on the offensive end of the court. Both teams were looking for consecutive defensive stops to get some type of separation from the other at the half. Three free throws from Darian Adams at the end of the half gave JSU a 34-33 lead going into the break. The Gamecocks were led by both Brandon Huffman and Maros Zeliznak at the half with six points, on nearly perfect shooting from the paint from the two.
The second half started with a solid defensive effort from the Gamecocks to tally up some stops out of the half. JSU was able to take an eight point lead after the first five minutes in the second half via great low post scoring from Huffman and Zeliznak. A big time Darian Adams three let the Gamecocks jump out to a 51-40 lead forcing a Kennesaw State timeout early. The first ten minutes of play in the second half were capitalized by a thunderous throwdown by Huffman to keep a significant lead for JSU.
The emphasis on consistently pounding the post by Jacksonville State was clearly evident, as they were able to build a 40-16 scoring differential from the paint against the much smaller Owls. As the clock continued to wind down, the fouling from Kennesaw State to stop the paint barrage for JSU became their own downfall. The Gamecocks made more free throws in the final five minutes than they did the whole game, and cemented their double digit victory.
Jacksonville State (#1 seed) will come back home to play in the ASUN Semifinal against Jacksonville University (#2 seed) this Saturday, March 5.