The Jacksonville State Gamecocks made a statement win by thumping conference favorites Mu**ay St. 88-68 on Thursday, Jan. 31.
Now with the very same Gamecocks sitting in front of them, APSU was given the same opportunity.
Terry Taylor did.
APSU walked out of the Pete Mathews Coliseum with a 74-71 win over Jacksonville State.
Taylor slammed home 30 points for APSU as they dealt Jacksonville State, which was their first loss at home this season. This became the fourth occasion where the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year tallied 30 points or more in the 2018-19 season.
The win, paired with other results, places the Govs in a four-way tie for first place of the OVC.
“We made it interesting, that’s for sure. We coughed it up four times in the last two-and-a-half minutes, but a lot of credit to my guys’ man, a lot of credit for them sticking to it,” Head Coach Matt Figger told letsgopeay.com. “Terry Taylor was a monster today and our guards defended their tails off.”
Figger’s squad came out of the gate on all cylinders.
In the first eight minutes of the match, APSU placed themselves in an unprecedented 23-4 lead.
With less than a minute and a half played, the Govs led 5-0. Jacksonville St. did not hit a shot from the field until Ty Hudson’s jumper sank in with 12:37 to play in the first half.
During that stretch, Jarrett Givens buried a pair of back-to-back three-pointers.
Taylor scored 10 points for the Govs during that run.
“It’s the first time he said, ‘I’m winning. Get on my back, we’re winning this game, boys,'” Figger told letsgopeay.com
However, top-ranked Jacksonville State responded, and rather emphatically.
The hosts started to knock down their shots and pushed the game to be within six points in the first half and trailed only by eight at the break.
Coming out with the hot hand from the locker room, JSU pulled with four points and turned a one-sided “slobber knocker” into a back-and-forth barn burner.
“They’re at home and there’s a reason they’re a good team. There’s a reason they beat Mu**ay here, and there’s a reason they beat Belmont twice: they’re a really good team,” Figger told letsgopeay.com. “And we’re a really good team; I’m tired of everybody not saying we’re a really good team because we are a good team.”
With pressure mounting, the Govs found their finishing touch once again and pushed their lead to 11 at one point and 10 with 2:53 to play.
However, the Gamecocks have shown they are a championship-level team and turned the heavyweight fight into a one-point ball game with 59 seconds to play, even leading with 39 seconds left.
They saying goes ‘the cream rises to the top’. Jabari McGhee put the Govs back ahead with a layup and a Taylor free-throw complemented the basket moments later. APSU survived the Gamecocks late surge.
The Govs sit at 8-2 in league play, their best OVC start since the 2008-09 season.
With the result, APSU will return home to host the SIU Edwardsville Cougars on Thursday, Feb. 7 at the Dunn Center.
1) Belmont (17-4, 8-2)
2) Mu**ay St. (17-4, 8-2)
3) APSU (16-7, 8-2)
4) Jacksonville St. (16-7, 8-2)
5) Eastern Illinois (13-10, 6-4)
6) Morehead St. (9-14, 5-5)
7) SIU Edwardsville (8-14, 4-6)
8) Tennessee St. (7-15, 4-6)
9) Eastern Kentucky (10-13, 3-7)
10) Tennessee Tech (7-16, 3-7)
11) Southeast Missouri (7-16, 2-8)
12) UT Martin (6-15, 1-9)