Daniel Mayes, Staff Reporter
After a tough loss against Belmont last Thursday, the Jacksonville State men’s basketball team rebounded with a 63-57 win over Tennessee State on Saturday at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
The Gamecocks overcame a 14-4 disadvantage in turnovers to take down the Tigers and earn their eighth Ohio Valley Conference win of the season.
After the two teams exchanged the lead several times early on in the game, Jacksonville State quickly built a big lead thanks to some frigid first half shooting from Tennessee State.
The Tigers hit on just 22.7% of their field goal attempts in the first frame and missed all eight of their 3-pointers.
Jacksonville State led by as many as 12 in the first, but a run by the Tigers cut the lead to 26-18 going into the halftime break.
The Gamecocks didn’t fare much better themselves from the field in the first half, with the notable exception of senior guard Greg Tucker.
JSU went 8-22 from the field in the first half overall, but Tucker was 3-5 himself, and, with 13 opening-frame points, he was the only Gamecock to score more than five in the first period.
Tucker finished with 24 points on just nine field goal attempts, going 4-8 from behind the 3-point arc and netting 10 of his 14 free throw attempts.
Saturday was the second straight game that Tucker has led the Gamecocks in scoring, as he scored 14 against Belmont on Thursday night.
Coming out of halftime, a long scoring drought from both teams was finally broken by a TSU free throw with 16:32 remaining.
Two quick Tucker 3-pointers built the JSU lead back up to 11 at 32-21 with 13:43 left.
However, a scrappy Tennessee State squad fought its way back into the game.
Over the next seven minutes of game action, the Tigers slowly cut down the lead, and, with 6:12 remaining, a step back 3-point bomb from Armani Chaney gave Tennessee State a 40-39 lead, their first since the 15:49 mark of the first half.
However, Malcolm Drumwright answered right back with a 3-pointer of his own on the next possession to reclaim the lead for JSU.
Drumwright’s 3 propelled a 15-4 Gamecock run that made the JSU advantage 54-44 with just 45 seconds remaining in the game.
Tennessee State refused to give up, and, thanks to quick fouls when the Gamecocks had the ball and 3-pointers from Delano Spencer and Jordan Reed, the Tigers scored 13 points in the last 45 seconds to put pressure on JSU.
However, Jacksonville State was able to keep TSU at bay by nailing their free throws.
The Gamecocks converted on 10 of their 11 attempts over the final 45 seconds, and freshman Tyrik Edwards swished all six of his over that time frame.
Jacksonville State ultimately held off Tennessee State by a final score of 63-57.
The win pushes the Gamecocks’ record to 16-12, including 8-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference, and clinches JSU a spot in the OVC tournament.
Jacksonville State will return to Pete Mathews Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 18 to take on the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles.
The game will be the last home contest of the 2016-17 season and the final game in Pete Mathews Coliseum for seniors Tucker and Erik Durham.