JSU dominates West Georgia
Jacksonville State has played its final basketball game as the undersized team in the OVC.
Making his Division I debut, Jamal Hunter led the Gamecocks to a 65-52 win over West Georgia in an exhibition match up.
“It was exciting,” Hunter said. “I had fun. I got to see what it’s like on the D-I level. We got to establish a little bit of how our team is going to be.”
Hunter, a junior forward from Macon, Miss., transferred to JSU from East Mississippi Community College. At 6-foot-8, he provides a post presence on both ends of the court. That is something the Gamecocks have been lacking for several seasons. He finished a double-double on 10 points and led the Gamecocks with 10 rebounds and 3 blocks.
“Jamal has been terrific,” head coach James Green said. “He’s one of our best basketball minds out there. Normally you’d think of a guard being that but he and Nick Cook both have really good basketball instincts out there on the court. I think they can really play off of each other.”
Nick Cook, a senior forward from Hattiesburg, Miss., has been the Gamecock’s lone post threat in each of his three seasons. Standing only 6-foot-6, Cook was often towered over by opponents. Perhaps nobody is happier to see another complete post player than he is.
“I love the addition of Jamal. I tell him everyday that I love him,” Cook said. “He helps me rebound, block, he takes up a lot of slack that we haven’t had in the past.”
Cook finished with 9 points, five rebounds and a blocked shot.
Cook and Hunter will be the starting post players this season. There is no drop-off in their back-ups. Junior forward D.J. Felder forward made his presence known Thursday with nine points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot. Michael Louder also added five points and a rebound.
“Overall,” Green said, “our offensive philosophy has always been inside-out. But, since we’ve been here, we’ve had to be more of an open type offense and not been able to throw the ball down in the post. I think this year, with the number of guys that we have, we should be able to establish ourselves in the paint.”
Lost in the dominant post play was the performance by junior guard Darion Rackley. He led the Gamecocks with 15 points and four steals. He also added two assists.
The Gamecocks’ defense forced 14 turnovers including 10 steals.
“For us to be good on offense, we need to created some of that offense off our defense,” Green said. “I think we were able to do that. But, we need to be consistent at that all year long. If we’ll continue to guard and push people away from the 3-point line, then that’s going to give us the opportunity for some easy baskets.”
The Gamecocks return to action Monday at 7 p.m. at home against Martin Methodist.