Men’s basketball defeated Division II Kentucky State 80-61 during their first game of the season at the Vadalabene Center on Friday.
“The guys worked together won both ends of the floor. I just told them 18 assists and 18 turnovers I think are really good numbers for an exhibition this early in the year. They did a pretty good job of ball control. Kentucky State’s an athletic team, they play pretty hard on defense,” Head Coach Jon Harris said.
Junior forward Brandon Jackson was the Cougars’ highest scorer of the night with 17 points and six rebounds. Junior guard Tyresse Williford tailed him in points with 16 for the night.
Freshman guard Cameron Williams had 16 points and eight rebounds, junior guard Christian Ellis had seven assists and five points and senior guard Daniel Kinchen came in to score six points.
“We definitely have good chemistry. There are things we need to work on, but we’re moving towards those goals,” Jackson said. “I just want to come out and play hard every night and help the next person.”
Friday was Williford’s first game with the team, but that didn’t keep him from having a strong performance.
“It’s nothing new; it’s just with a new team. I knew the expectations coming in. Coach Harris always tells me to just be a leader, play the game and just help the next guy next to me,” Williford said.
Junior forward Anselm Uzuegbunem had 11 points and 10 rebounds against the Thorobreds.
“He’s a load — he didn’t shoot the ball well. He’s actually a really good shot-maker,” Harris said. “He’s a calm presence, he doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low. He does a pretty good job competing on both sides of the floor.”
Harris hopes to keep the atmosphere of the next home games as lively as their home opener was.
“We’re excited for where we’re at. It’s a great turn of events from a year ago where we were on the road so much from November to December,” Harris said. “Our student section was tremendous. I don’t think we had that many kids at a game ever, so that was great to see.”
The Cougars fell to University of the Pacific Tuesday night with a final score of 65-74.
Despite a strong comeback after the first half, which left the team down 21-40, the team could not come together for a win against the Powercats.
Men’s basketball faces up against Winthrop University for their next game at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Vadalabene Center.