Aggies win barn burner in MEAC opener

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Aggies win barn burner in MEAC opener

Jarod Hamilton, theSCORE Editor

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GREENSBORO — Basketball Interim Head Coach Willie Jones looked to be on the verge of his second consecutive blowout victory with 18:21 left in the second half of Monday’s game when his Aggies (5-11) hosted the Florida A&M Rattlers (2-12) to open up conference play.

The Aggies were leading by 20 points early in the second half until the Rattlers went on to chip away at the deficit and outscore N.C. A&T 52 to 38 in the second half.

N.C. A&T forced 13 turnovers in the first half and jumped out to a 43-29 lead at the half.  

Postgame, Coach Jones said he was pleased with the play defensively in the first half, but the lack of experience with big leads is what led to FAMU’s comeback.

“[In the] second half, I thought because of the success, we have not really been able to get up that big on opponents in the past,” Jones said. “So, getting up and seeing that we were so far ahead, I think some of the guys lost their focus, and that allowed FAMU to get back into the game.”

The Aggies would force overtime after they blew their enormous 20 point lead with the game tied at 81 apiece. 

N.C. A&T would go on a 10-0 run to start overtime, and the team would outscore FAMU 16-9 in the overtime period to win 97-90.

Certainly, an exciting game to open Mid Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) conference play for the Aggies who are now on a two-game winning streak. However, Jones said winning streaks are nice, but their goal every game is to go 1-0, and this game is in the past.

“A win is a win,” he said. “We want to carry the momentum, but we look at every opportunity as one game, so this game is over and we will correct what we need to correct and now we will focus on the next game to go 1-0.”

In a game where the Aggies shot 31 of 52 (59.6%) from the charity stripe, they needed all 22 points forced off of turnovers throughout the ball game.

At one point, the Aggies missed eight out of ten free throws down the stretch, per Jeff Mills of the News & Record.

Very seldom does a team get to shoot 52 free throws, and if N.C. A&T made 10 more free throws, this game probably would not have gone into overtime as the Rattlers had only 24 appearances at the free-throw line.

It is also important to note that junior guard Kameron Langley went down near the midway mark of the second half with a lower leg injury. 

The Rattlers were in the midst of a 17-4 run went Langley headed back to the locker room. Langley returned and help erased a five-point lead that FAMU had with 2:02 left in the half. Langley finished with 16 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. 

Four of the five Aggie starters scored in double figures. Junior guard Tyler Maye had a game-high 24 points, senior guard Andre Jackson and senior forward Ronald Jackson each had 16 points.

The Aggies have now won 18 straight conference games at home, per the Aggies Athletic Foundation.

N.C. A&T will head to Princess Anne, MD to face the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (2-14) on Jan. 11.