JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thanks to 22 second-half points from the reigning ASUN Newcomer of the Week and 17 points in the triumphant return of an injured starter, Jacksonville University (5-10) defeated pesky Middle Georgia State (5-7) by 21 points, 81-60, on Thursday.
"I thought we played with more energy and more effort in the second half. Offensively we did a better job of getting to the rim and being strong with the ball when we were in the paint," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "[JD] handled the ball a lot tonight and he looked really good on both ends of the floor. He's got a shot to be a really good player. And Devin changed the game in his first game back. It was good to see him back."
Jacksonville alternated scoring and turning the ball over to open the second half, leading by as much as four, 42-38, on a driving layup and a free throw by JD Notae, before the Knights tied the game at 42-42 just two possessions later. At the first media timeout of the second half JU held a 48-44 lead largely on the effort of the freshman from Covington, Ga., who had nine of JU's first 11 points in the half.
Over the next four minutes Jacksonville began to pull away as Notae began to take control of the game. Notae, Devin Harris, and Jalyn Hinton combined for 15 points on driving layups, multiple passes that led to wide-open threes, and a behind-the-back pass that led to a Hinton dunk. Over the same time period Middle Georgia managed to score just five points, and JU led 63-49 with 12:39 remaining.
Jacksonville led by as much as 23 points, 72-49, with 10:16 left on the clock, and held Middle Georgia State at arms-length through the rest of the game, winning by 21, 81-60.
Shooting struggles were a theme for both teams in the first half; Middle Georgia made just one of its first eight shot attempts, which led to a 9-3 lead for Jacksonville at the first media timeout. The lid was flipped to the other basket out of the timeout though as JU missed seven of its next 10 attempts, which allowed the Knights back into the game. The Knights tied up the game twice and took the lead three times. Jacksonville shot just 39.4 percent from the floor, 18.2 percent from three, and 52.9 percent from the free throw stripe (9-17), but managed to tie the game up 36-36 on two free throws by Derrick Flowers with :39.8 left on the clock. Harris scored his 10th point of the first half on a free throw on the next possession to give JU a 37-36 lead with 28.2 seconds left. The Dolphins held that advantage at the half.
- Jacksonville shot significantly better in the second half, 59.3 percent, than it did in the first half, 39.4 percent.
- The win was Jasick's 100th career win as a head coach. He has 48 wins in three and half seasons at JU, and had 52 wins in three seasons at IPFW.
- Notae is the first player to score at least 30 points since Tanner Rubio had 31 points at Stetson on Jan. 31, 2017.