Dukes Blowout UNCW, But No Nuggets
JMU suffered a rather embarrassing loss to Hampton on Monday. Tonight the Dukes flipped the script and sent UNCW home smarting from a 78-50 blowout. The win moved JMU to 8-8 overall and 2-1 in the CAA. Fans who put Monday’s debacle behind them and watched this evening’s game were rewarded with an outstanding all around effort from the Dukes. The 28 point win makes me think that this team isn’t ready to give up on itself despite a recent two game skid. Maybe we shouldn’t give up on it either. The biggest complaint most fans probably had after leaving the Convo was that if the Dukes would have hit 79 points on the scoreboard, everyone in attendance would have gotten free chicken nuggets from Chick Fil A. No such luck though, since Matt Brady had Arman Marks dribble out the clock instead of taking one more shot. Nice sportsmanship coach, but free nuggets don’t grow on trees.
In Monday’s night’s loss, JMU got caught up in a sloppy and chippy game. The Dukes turned the ball over 17 times and committed 24 fouls. Tonight they played in control, dictated the pace, and forced UNCW to make mistakes. The Dukes came into this game leading the CAA in steals, averaging 8.6 a game. UNCW entered the game with a CAA worst 16.1 turnovers a game. Don’t confuse lots of steals with good defense, but it was easy to see that JMU could be in for a fun night. And they were. The Seahawks had 21 turnovers which JMU converted into 29 points. In addition to forcing a ton of turnovers, the Dukes held UNCW to 27.5% shooting for the game. UNCW’s star, Keith Rendleman scored 17 points, but hit only 5 of 14 attempts. As a team, JMU shot 49% and assisted on 18 of its 30 buckets. Rayshawn Goins led all scorers with 18 points. It was his seventh straight game in double-figures. A.J. Davis had his first double-double as a Duke with 16 and 10. Andre Nation chipped in 12 points. And Big Gene Swindle not only saw action, he efficiently filled up the box score with 1 rebound, 1 block, and a whopping 5 fouls in only 9 minutes.
Monday night’s loss pushed me to the brink of giving up on this team. I realize how stupid that was now of course. It was just one out of conference loss and JMU isn’t really in the resume building business for an at large bid. Then again, it was Hampton we’re talking about. In any case, this year’s JMU team has huge upside, but it also appears to have an almost limitless bottom (again, it was Hampton). UNCW is not a very good team. JMU played really, really well tonight though. We’d feel a lot better about the win though if we knew Charles Cooke, who left with a wrist injury, was going to be alright. If the Dukes can consistently play the way the did tonight, they can beat any CAA team. Unfortunately, the bad Dukes show up every now and again and we all know those guys can lose to any team in the nation. This is going to be a bit of an up and down ride, but it should be worth hanging on until the end.