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Men’s basketball gets big break

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Men’s basketball gets big break

USA Men’s Basketball went 2-2 over holiday break. Photo courtesy of USAJaguars

USA Men’s Basketball went 2-2 over holiday break. Photo courtesy of USAJaguars

Ryann Guy

USA Men’s Basketball went 2-2 over holiday break. Photo courtesy of USAJaguars

Ryann Guy

Ryann Guy

USA Men’s Basketball went 2-2 over holiday break. Photo courtesy of USAJaguars

Charles Harrison, Sports Editor

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The USA Men’s Basketball team fell to (2-2) in conference with a two loss trip to Texas to finish out the break.

The Jags opened up their Christmas break on Dec. 16 with a 63-5 win at home against the Eastern Illinois Panthers. The Jags grabbed an early lead 1:41 into the game and held it through the rest of the game.

Sophomore guard Herb McGee lead the Jaguar effort putting together 15 points hitting three three points field goals. The Jaguars stifling defensive play buried the Panthers, with the Jags forcing 19 turnovers and holding EIU to 32.3 percent overall shooting the ball.

The Jags then travelled to New Orleans, LA. to take on Tulane at the Fogelman Arena on Dec. 21. Tulane posted a punishing first half, taking an 18-point lead at with 2:29 to go in the first half.

Senior forward Nick Davis and junior guard Rodrick Sikes started the second half with three consecutive three-point shots. The Jags reclaimed the lead with 12:35, though they didn’t finish with it. Tulane freshman guard Caleb Daniels would shoot a three-pointer with 28 seconds to go breaking a 71-71 tie that the Green Waves would ride to a 77-73 win.

On Dec. 29 the Jags received a late Christmas gift when they had their highest scoring game of the season, opening conference play with an 86-64 win over Georgia State.

Sikes lead the Jags, scoring 31 points, making him the first Jaguar to score 30 or more points in two straight games since 1984.

Sikes wasn’t the only Jag to put up an impressive performance. Sophomore forward Josh Ajayi lead the game with 10 rebounds two offensive and eight defensive rebounds as well as scoring 16 points.

The Jags ended 2017 play on Dec. 31 when a missed three-pointer from Georgia Southern redshirt freshman guard Quan Jackson as time expired sealed up a 69-67 win for the Jags over the Georgia Southern Eagles, giving USA their first (2-0) conference start since the 2012-2013 season.

The Jags and Eagles spent the majority of the game trading narrow leads with Davis pulling the Jags ahead when he plucked down a rebound and immediately put up the go ahead goal to seal in the lead.

The Jags faced off with Texas State in San Marcos, Texas on Jan. 4 in the first game in 2018. The Bobcats dominated in the first half, outscoring the Jags by 11 points to grab a 41-30 lead at the half.

“I think my disappointment is that some of the things we worked on for a couple of days heading out here, like being strong with the basketball, making sure we rebounded and blocked out defensively didn’t happen in the first half,” USA head coach Matthew Graves said.

The Jags flipped the narrative in the second half, fighting back hard and outscoring the Bobcats 39-31. Despite an impressive game by sophomore Ajayi, who lead the Jags through the game with 25 points, and junior Rodrick Sikes with 18 points throughout. It wasn’t enough to steal a win, however, with Texas State junior forward Alex Peacock hitting a layup with less than a minute to go tucked the game away 72-69 in the Bobcats favor.

The Jags finished their Texas trip with a game against a competitive University of Texas Arlington team. The Mavericks blew past the Jags 91-67, the most points the Jags have given up all season.

The Jags have now lost five straight games on the road going (8-8, 2-2 SBC) to start the season. The Jags plan to return to Mobile on Mon. Jan. 9 to take on Trinity Baptist College in a break from conference play before battling it out with in-state rival Troy University on Thurs. Jan. 14. For more information about Jaguar Athletics go to USAJaguars.com.

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Men’s basketball gets big break