Jacksonville State (17-10) at Belmont (23-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 2, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Curb Event Center (5,085) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: JSU 9-3, Belmont 12-0. Away Record: JSU 6-7, Belmont 9-5. Neutral Record: JSU 2-0, Belmont 2-1. Conference Record: JSU 9-7, Belmont 13-2. Series Record: Series is tied, 3-3.
GAME NOTES: The regular season comes to a close this afternoon for the Jacksonville State Gamecocks and the Belmont Bruins, as the two are set for an Ohio Valley Conference matchup at the Curb Event Center.
The Bruins claimed a 73-62 road victory over Jacksonville State back on Jan. 3 to tie the all-time series at three wins apiece.
Belmont locked up its fourth consecutive regular-season conference title, and first in the OVC, with a 73-43 dismantling of SIU Edwardsville three nights ago. The victory also extended the Bruins' homecourt winning streak to 19 in a row, the third-longest active streak in the nation behind South Dakota State and Marquette. The Bruins have won 40 of their last 41 home games overall.
Wednesday's impressive showing against SIUE came just four nights after Belmont thrashed Ohio University in a BracketBuster matchup, 81-62. The Bruins wasted little time picking up right where they left off in their previous game, as they made 13 of their first 16 shots against SIUE to jump out to a 28-9 lead. Blake Jenkins finished with a team-high 17 points and 11 rebounds. Joining him in double figures were Ian Clark with 14 points, Trevor Noack with 13, and J.J. Mann with 11. The Bruins attacked the glass to the tune of a 39-24 rebounding advantage. That type of team effort makes the Bruins particularly dangerous, as they have spent much of the season overwhelming foes behind 49.4-percent accuracy from the floor and a +13.9 scoring margin. Clark paces four double-digit scorers with 18.3 points per game, and he is shooting an impressive 46.6 percent from the perimeter (90-of-193).
Jacksonville State has rebounded from a three-game slide by posting back-to- back wins over Southeast Missouri (67-65) and UNC Asheville (71-69). The Gamecocks should be well rested, considering the win over UNC Asheville took place a week ago. They have held their own outside of Jacksonville with an 8-7 mark in road and neutral games.
Ronnie Boggs was the hero for the Gamecocks in their win over UNC Asheville, as he tipped in the game-winner off a missed shot from teammate Brian Williams as time expired. Tarvin Gaines finished with a team-high 18 points, Williams scored 15, and Boggs and Darion Rackley had 13 points apiece. The 17 wins are the most for JSU since the 2002-03 campaign. Gaines has played a big role in that success, as he leads the team with 16.3 ppg to go along with 5.2 rebounds. Rackley (13.8 ppg), Williams (13.1 ppg) and Boggs (11.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) round out the double-digit scorers. While the Gamecocks possess a variety of scoring options, they have struggled quite a bit in the rebounding department with a -5.2 margin on the season.
Even if the Bruins let off the gas a bit here and have an off day, JSU is not likely to clean up their misses on the boards.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 74, Jacksonville State 64
03/02 10:43:30 ET