Jacksonville State (3-2) vs. Northern Arizona (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Thomas & Mack Center (19,522) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: None. Home Record: JSU 3-0, NAU 0-0. Away Record: JSU 0-2, NAU 1-2. Neutral Record: JSU 0-0, NAU 0-0. Conference Record: JSU 0-0, NAU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Jacksonville State Gamecocks and the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks will meet at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas Friday afternoon in the consolation round of the Global Sports Classic.
The winner will take on either Campbell or North Carolina A&T in the final round on Saturday, with the losers also playing one another.
Jacksonville State opened the season up with three straight wins at home over Reinhardt (93-63), Eastern Michigan (61-54), and Alabama A&M (79-61). The Gamecocks then entered the opening rounds of this tournament, where they fell to UNLV (77-58) and Oregon (67-45).
NAU also suffered losses at the hands of Oregon (83-73) and UNLV (92-54) to begin the Classic, but the Lumberjacks were able to respond well to their slow start with their first win of the season at UC Davis on Nov. 18, 85-82.
This will mark the first-ever meeting between the two squads.
Jacksonville State has gotten off to a respectable start as far as its shooting percentage is concerned, hitting 45 percent of its field goal attempts, although it has made just 13-of-62 from three-point range (.210). The Gamecocks' early-season success did not carry over into their loss to Oregon however, as their 48-point effort was their worst offensive output yet. They committed four more turnovers (23) than field goal made (19) and they shot a woeful 4-of-13 (.308) from the foul line. Chris Deanes was the only player to register double figures, scoring 10 coming off the bench. Rinaldo Mafra put together a nice game going up against Oregon's frontcourt, tallying nine points, six rebounds, and three blocks. On the season, Ronnie Boggs is both the team's top scorer (11.4 ppg) and rebounder (6.4 rpg), and he's connecting on more than 55 percent of his shots overall. Darion Rackley (11.0 ppg) and Tarvin Gaines (10.0 ppg) have also gotten off to impressive starts to the season.
NAU put together its best game of the year in its win over UC Davis as it made 50 percent of its shots from the floor, which is a marked improvement over its 39.3 field goal percentage from the season. Still, it almost coughed up a double-digit lead late in the second half to a team that won just five games a season ago. A pair of huge performances sparked the Lumberjacks in the win. Gabe Rogers scored 27 points, four off his career-high, and DeWayne Russell netted 25 points on 8-of-12 from the field (5-of-8 from three) while adding six assists, four boards, and two steals. Russell's freshman campaign is off to a sensational start, as he's scoring 18.7 ppg on 51.5 percent shooting and dishing out a team-high 3.7 apg. Rogers is the only other NAU player to average double figures on the season with 16.0 ppg, but his shooting percentage has been a real detriment to the team thus far (.298).
Both squads were greatly outmatched by the likes of UNLV and Oregon in this event, but they should be in for a fair fight in this one. NAU's scoring combo of Russell and Rogers is sure to do damage, but Jacksonville State has been more impressive overall in the early going.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jacksonville State 73, Northern Arizona 68
11/23 10:50:14 ET