Jacksonville State may have lost to Morehead State 78-72, but it was one of those games hard to forget.
The Gamecocks rallied from 21 points down with 16:25 to play to make it a four-point game with a minute to go and the best rebounder in the land — even if he did play for the opposition — didn’t disappoint.
“No. 1, we didn’t quit; you can’t quit,” JSU coach James Green said. “They’re the type team that’s physical, they’re good inside and outside, and we had some guys who tried to go ahead and play through that scenario and give us a chance.”
Unless the Gamecocks (4-19, 2-10) make the OVC Tournament and face him again, this was going to be the last time they would see Kenneth Faried, and the Morehead senior left them with a performance to remember.
Faried enjoyed his third 20/20 game of the season and fourth of his career when he muscled his way to 21 points and 20 rebounds. The nation’s leading rebounder had a 23-point, 23-rebound game against Tennessee State just last week and earlier this year went for 25 points and 23 boards against SIU-Edwardsville. The double-double was fourth in a row and 19th this season and 76th of his career.
“Another day at the office,” Faried said. “That’s pretty much what’s I’m expected to do night in and night out. That’s what my team wants me to do, my coaches want me to do and my daughter wants me to do, so I’ve got to keep grinding. The season’s getting late, people are getting tired, but I’m kicking it into second gear right now.”
With the 20, Faried passed Ralph Sampson into fourth place on the NCAA’s career list (since 1973 when freshmen were allowed to play again) and moved within one of No. 3 Malik Rose and 57 of No. 1 Tim Duncan. JSU coach James Green joked earlier in the week the Gamecocks at least get as many rebounds as Faried to have a chance and they did – 24. They only had one more than the Eagles’ senior at halftime (13-12).
“Give the guy credit,” Green said. “He’s very physical and he desires to rebound. I guarantee you a rebound means just as much to him as a point any day, and that’s what I like about him.”
If the crowd was talking about Faried as it was leaving the building, it certainly had to be talking about JSU’s youth-induced comeback once it got in the car.
The Gamecocks fell behind by 22 in the first half and rallied from 21 down with 16:25 to play to make it a four-point game with a minute to go. And they did it on the strength of the 3-point shooting by newcomers B.J. Miller, Frankie Bougher and Brian Williams.
The Gamecocks were 11-of-21 from behind the arc – 9 of 14 in the second half – with Miller (4-7), Williams (3-3) and Bougher (4-6) making all of them. They had 35 of JSU’s 50 points in the second half.
Williams led five JSU scorers with a career-high 19 points. Bougher and Miller had 14 each, while Nick Murphy had 12 and Stephen Hall 11.
Bougher hit three 3-pointers – and four shots in a row – in an 18-4 stretch that brought the Gamecocks from 21 points down to seven (52-45) with 11:49 left.
“I had some confidence in hitting the first shot,” Bougher said. “After I hit my first one, it made me feel like I’m in a rhythm. My teammates kept looking for me and I kept getting good looks, so I just kept throwing it up – and it went in. It was a really good feeling getting my team back in the game.”
The Eagles (16-8, 8-4) pushed their lead back to double digits and carried it into the final 90 seconds of the game. Then Miller and Williams started draining 3s for the Gamecocks and Williams’ trey with 22.6 seconds left made it a four-point game.
“Early in the second half I was getting to the basket and feeling rhythm shots and I felt I was confident enough to step outside,” Williams said. “I had been practicing shots coming off screens, so it just felt normal.
“I felt we were close enough that it was there if we could get another stop, but it didn’t turn out the way we wanted.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.