Men’s Basketball Competes in Coaches vs. Cancer Classic

The men’s basketball team competed in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic last week with three games last week at the GSU Sports Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The Hawks lost their first game against Georgia State and then went on to beat South Alabama and Tennessee State.

MU was competitive for a half against Georgia State, trailing by seven at the break, but the Panthers opened up a double-digit lead in the second half and won handily, 62-49.

“I thought our kids handled it well for about 20 minutes,” head coach King Rice said. “But once again, we are not playing 40 minutes of basketball. The other part is, I have to get these guys to relax and get our best guys to play like themselves.”

Andrew Nicholas led the team in scoring against Georgia State with 10 points, shooting only four of 13 from the field. Dion Nesmith added eight points as the Hawks only managed 49 in the game.

The Blue and White shot only 27.8% from the field. That’s not going to get the job done when they allow the Panthers to connect on 51.2% of their shots.

Guards Devonta White and R.J. Hunter combined for 30 points to lead Georgia State to victory.

The next day, MU took the court again to face South Alabama.

Senior Jesse Steele had the ball in his hands during crunch time and won the game, 73-71. Steele raced up the court, trailing 71-70, with 3.5 seconds remaining in the game. He was fouled shooting a three-pointer and went to the line with 1.3 showing on the big board. He made all three and the Hawks claimed victory.

“That was a great win for our team,” Rice said. “South Alabama is a tough team with big, strong guys inside. I think this is a game that our kids really grew up in. We fought to the end, and when you do that, good things happen.”

Nicholas led MU in scoring again, with 15 points. Marcus Ware added 13, while Nesmith and Steele added 12 and 11 points respectively.

Augustine Rubit was the game’s leading scorer for the Jaguars, tallying 20 points. Xavier Roberson added 18 off the bench and starting guard Mychal Ammons scored 15.

The Hawks closed out their trip to Atlanta with an 81-70 win over Tennessee State.

“It was a team effort,” Rice said. “Our older guys did an unbelievable job, and our younger guys stepped up when they were asked to. Our team is continuing to get better and if our team stays together, we have a chance to have a great, great season.”

Playing their third game in three days, MU showed no signs of slowing down. Four Hawks scored in double figures, led again by Nicholas, who scored 19 points. Desmith added 13 and Steele and Ware each scored 12.

The Tigers featured the games leading scorer, Kellen Thornton. Thornton shot 12 of 18 from the field and scored 27 points. He also led the game in rebounding, grabbing 16 boards, 10 coming on the defensive side.

Before the stretch of games in Atlanta, the Hawks dropped a pair of games to No. 20 Notre Dame and Rider. The Fighting Irish handled MU easily, defeating them 84-57. MU played a hard-fought game at Rider and came up short, 65-62.

The Hawks left Georgia back at .500 at 3-3 and look to build off their two wins against South Alabama and Georgia State and carry the momentum throughout the season.

PHOTO COURTESY of MU Photography