Men’s Basketball Gets Back on Track with 95-77 Win over Northern Kentucky
Jarvis Haywood (Photo Courtesy of Skip Tapp)
Jarvis Haywood (Photo Courtesy of Skip Tapp)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.Jarvis Haywood had 18 of his 19 points in the first half, helping the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team establish a healthy 51-33 edge at the break. The rest of the Dolphins picked up where he left off in the second half; taking over the scoring load and securing a 95-77 win over Northern Kentucky on Saturday at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The Dolphins improve to 9-13 (5-6 Atlantic Sun) with the win, while dropping the Norse to 8-15 (4-7 A-Sun).

The attack-mindedness of Jacksonville was evident immediately as Keith McDougald took the opening tip and went straight to the rim for a bucket within four seconds. A three-pointer by RJ Slawson gave the Dolphins a 5-0 lead within the first minute.

Northern Kentucky had an answer, scoring the next nine points to take a 9-5 edge after three minutes, but JU responded with a 15-0 outburst that put the team up by double-digits and the Norse would never recover. NKU would use three timeouts before the first half had reached its halfway point to try to slow down Jacksonville, but to no avail. Two free throws from J.R. Holder pushed the JU lead to 20 for the first time at 49-29 with less than two minutes remaining in the half, and a McDougald runner in the lane right before the buzzer gave Jacksonville 51 points at the break, matching a season high for points in a half set previously against Florida College in this season’s home opener.

To get back into it, the Norse would have needed a tremendous rally, and Jacksonville never gave them that chance. There were less than four minutes remaining before the Dolphins allowed NKU to score more than four unanswered, even then it was a 7-0 run that only cut the JU lead to 17 points. McDougald had 13 of his game-high 22 points in the second stanza to keep Northern Kentucky from threatening, and Slawson punished the NKU big men, repeatedly picking up fouls down low to send post players such as Jalen Billups to the bench without making much of an impact. When all was said and done, the Norse had been whistled for 28 personal fouls in the game, and Jacksonville converted 31-of-36 free throws along the way. The Dolphins also cleaned up on the glass, outrebounding NKU by a 40-25 margin.

Slawson finished 15 points and six rebounds. Marcel White came off the bench for 11 points – including a thundering breakaway dunk in the second half – and a career-high seven rebounds. Vince Martin contributed seven points, six assists, four steals and three boards to the victory.

“Our guys played hard and as a team,” said Head Coach Cliff Warren. “We’re not necessarily just a jump-shooting team; we’re an attacking, driving, aggressive team. The energy from the opening tip spread to not just the starters, but the guys coming off the bench as well. This was the kind of effort we’ll need going forward the rest of the year.”

JU returns to action on Feb. 6, looking to make it a regular season sweep of Florida Gulf Coast. The Dolphins and the Eagles will get started at 7:05 p.m. in a game broadcast live on ESPN3.

Game Notes
- With a 31-of-36 performance at the line, Jacksonville set a season high for most free throws made, as well as the highest percentage by the team in a game this season. It was the most makes at the line since the Dolphins connected on 32 in a 76-64 win over Mercer on Feb. 20, 2010.

- It’s sometimes been feast or famine at the line for JU this season however. Including this win over NKU, the Dolphins have had six games this season in which they’ve hit over 80 percent at the stripe. They are 4-2 in those games. On the flip side, there have been seven games where the Dolphins have shot 60 percent or below. They are 2-5 when that is the case.

- Keith McDougald had his second straight game with at least 20 points, and now has 1,108 points for his career. In the game, he surpassed Curtis Taylor (1,091 points from 1987-90) and Micah Ross (1,093 points from 1995-98), and is now 23rd all-time at JU in scoring. McDougald needs eight points to pass Ernie Fleming (1,115 points from 1971-72), 15 to pass Rex Morgan (1,122 from 1969-70) and 16 to pass Danny Pearson (1,123 from 1984-87) to make it into the top-20.

- Jacksonville won the rebounding battle over the Norse, 40-25. It was the biggest disparity this season for the Fins.

- Leading the way on the glass was Marcel White, who had a career-high seven boards. He’s the eighth Dolphin to lead the team in rebounding in a game this season.

- The Atlantic Sun’s leader in steals, Vince Martin added onto his lead with four swipes against the Norse.

- Northern Kentucky was whistled for 28 fouls in the game, the most by a Division I opponent against the Dolphins this season.

- The 26 points that Jacksonville got from its bench was the most by the team in a conference game so far on the year.