Jacksonville State (5-9) vs. Coppin State (4-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 21, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Multi-purpose Sports Complex (2,500) -- Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Television: None. Home Record: JSU 4-1, CSU 2-1. Away Record: JSU 1-7, CSU 2-4. Neutral Record: JSU 0-1, CSU 0-1. Conference Record: JSU 0-0, CSU 1-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: After both squads lost their opening-round bouts on Friday night, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks and the Coppin State Eagles will square off in the consolation round of the BVI Tropical Shootout at the Multi-purpose Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon.
Jacksonville State was a winner of two of three heading into this event, but it fell on the wrong end of a 75-70 decision versus Arkansas-Little Rock on Friday night. The setback dropped the Gamecocks to 5-9 this season, which includes just a 1-8 combined record in road and neutral-court games.
Coppin State has struggled as well in the early going this season, winning just four of its first 10 games. The Eagles are losers of back-to-back games, dropping a Dec. 14 road matchup to Richmond (71-49) before falling to Southern Miss in the opening round of this event, 88-74.
This matchup marks the first-ever meeting between the Gamecocks and the Eagles in men's basketball.
Although Jacksonville State spent most of its opening-round contest within single-digits of UALR, and even tied the game up at 60 with under six seconds remaining on an Avery Moore 3-pointer, it never once held the lead on its way to the five-point loss. It shot a respectable 46 percent from the field on the evening, but were ultimately plagued by its poor showing from the free-throw line (16-of-30). Darion Rackley paced the losing effort with 17 points, five assists and three steals, while Brian Williams chipped in 14 points.
The Gamecocks' offense has been off this season, as they shoot just 43 percent from the field for 67.4 points per game, which is five points fewer than what they allow on the other end. Rackley leads the team with 12.7 points per game, but he's making just 28.3 percent of his 3-point tries and less than 69 percent of his free-throw attempts. Williams (10.2 ppg) and Moore (9.8 ppg) can also be relied on for steady production.
Coppin State dug itself a 10-0 hole to Southern Miss on Friday less than two minutes into the game and could never recover. Although it had a solid night from the field (21-of-46) and the foul line (27-of-34), it lost out on several possessions by losing both the rebounding (37-27) and turnover (15-11) battles. Michael Murray was strong in spite of the loss, pouring in 23 points on 8-of-15 from the field. Andre Armstrong saw 26 minutes off the bench and finished with 16 points thanks largely to a 9-of-10 performance at the stripe.
The Eagles have been thoroughly outmatched on both ends of the floor this season, getting outshot by their opponents from the field, 47.6 percent to 40.6 percent, for a -8.6 scoring margin. After missing four games early in the season, Murray has returned to lead the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game, doing so on nearly 47 percent field goal shooting. Sterling Smith (12.8 ppg) is the team's most deadly option from 3-point range (22-of-51), while Taariq Cephas brings 11.4 points and 4.5 assists per game to the table.
While neither has been a model of consistency this season, Jacksonville State has at least shown an ability to contain teams on the defensive end of the court, which is enough to give the Gamecocks the slight edge in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jacksonville State 72, Coppin State 68
12/21 11:14:22 ET