Daniel Mayes, Chanticleer Sports Reporter
That’s the word that best describes the start to the 2017-18 season for the Jacksonville State Men’s basketball squad.
The Gamecocks downed Tennessee Wesleyan 100-42 in the regular season opener on Friday night, marking the first time Jacksonville State scored 100 or more points in the regular season since a 112-94 victory over Shorter on Nov. 23, 2004.
JSU then followed that up with a 94-61 shellacking of the Richmond Spiders on the road on Monday. The 33-point margin is good for the largest true-road victory in Jacksonville State’s Division I history.
After scoring bursts from both teams left the game knotted at 15 nearly eight minutes into the contest, Jacksonville State took control of the game and never looked back, building a halftime lead of 50-29 that would grow as large as 35 in the second half.
The Spiders finished last season at 22-13 and made it to the quarterfinal round of the National Invitational Tournament, advancing past Alabama in the first round with a 71-64 victory in Coleman Coliseum.
Jacksonville State used a hot-shooting day and a dominant effort on the glass to romp past Richmond. JSU knocked down 57% of their shots on the day to Richmond’s 39%. The Gamecocks collected 42 rebounds to the Spiders’ 20, led by junior forward Christian Cunningham’s 11.
Cunningham stuffed the stat sheet for JSU, tallying 16 points on 6-8 shooting, two steals and four blocks to go along with his 11 boards, marking the eighth career double-double for the Albuquerque, N.M. native.
After just tallying four points in the season opener, JSU star center Norbertas Giga rebounded in a big way against the Spiders.
Giga had 10 first half points to help the Gamecocks to their big halftime advantage, then finished with 18, which led all scorers, and five rebounds. The Lithuanian seven-footer knocked down two of his three attempted three-pointers.
Marlon Hunter and Jamall Gregory joined Cunningham and Giga in double-figures with 11 and 10 respectively. Maurice Dunlap led the Gamecocks with four assists.
Tyrik Edwards pitched in nine points off the bench to help lead the Gamecocks to a 31-6 advantage in bench points.
The Richmond game is the first in a five game road trip for JSU. The Gamecocks take on Buffalo on Wednesday before a Thanksgiving Tournament in Chattanooga and a trip to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Nov. 26.
The Gamecocks return to action in Pete Mathews Coliseum on Thursday Nov.30 at 7 p.m. in a matchup against Alabama State.