Defensively, Arkansas-Pine Bluff had more than Texas Southern center Aaric Murray to worry about.
Guard D.D. Scarver scored 10 of Texas Southern’s last 12 points in the first half and engineered a 9-0 run that proved to be an early knockout punch in the Tigers’ 65-55 win over the Golden Lions at H.O. Clemmons Arena. Scarver finished with a game-high 21 points, making 9 of 15 field goals, and also had four assists.
“I think he did a good job taking open shots,” said Tigers coach Mike Davis, the former Indiana and Alabama-Birmingham head man. “I thought our big boy, Aaric Murray, really showed a lot of patience and passed the ball out of the double team tonight. It really helped us.”
Murray, the seventh-leading scorer in the nation, had 17 points, just shy of his 22.8-per game average. But he made 7 of 11 from the field, including an alley-oop flush at the end of the first half that gave the Tigers (12-14, 8-6 SWAC) a 39-24 halftime lead.
“We tried to double-team him a lot and that freed up those shooters some,” UAPB coach George Ivory said.
Texas Southern led by as much as 55-32 with 9:35 remaining, UAPB’s largest deficit since losing 72-71 at Texas Southern on Jan. 27. UAPB (10-17, 8-7), which had won six of its previous seven, led by as much as 7-2, but struggled to score off the dribble against a much taller Tigers frontcourt anchored by 6-10 Murray, who earned his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia last year.
“We never did get in rhythm all night,” Ivory said. “A lot of it probably had to do with the big guy down low (Murray) stopping a lot of drives, but the guys never quit playing. They played hard.”
Marcel Mosley and Davon Haynes each had 15 points to lead UAPB. Tevin Hammond added eight points.
The Tigers took the lead at 18-16 on a Murray alley-oop and did not trail again. Their half-court defense kept the Lions out of sync, and UAPB forced heavily contested shots in the paint.
Ivory made a line change with 17 minutes left in the game and Texas Southern up 42-24, hoping his second string would inject some energy. The move drew applause from the home crowd, but UAPB didn’t claw to within 20 points until the 8:32 mark, when Mosley made 2 of 3 free throws.
UAPB closed the game on a 7-0 run to narrow the deficit. Haynes threw down a windmill jam with 25 seconds remaining with his injured right hand.
The Tigers made 26 of 47 from the floor (55.3 percent), including 7 of 19 from behind the arc,and made 6 of 7 free throws (85.7 percent). The Lions were 20 for 50 from the floor (40 percent), 5 for 11 from the perimeter, but made 10 of 18 free throws (55.6 percent).
“It was a night where we couldn’t make shots again,” Ivory said.
The win moved the Tigers into third place in SWAC standings by a half-game over the Lions. UAPB has three games remaining in the regular season, an upcoming Interstate 20 swing at Grambling State and Jackson State starting Saturday, and the finale at home against Mississippi Valley State.
Golden Lion Notes
UAPB avoided its third sub-50 point scoring game of the season. UAPB had 45 points against Alcorn State in its most recent home loss Jan. 20 and 49 … . UAPB forward Trent Whiting was whistled for an intentional foul with 4:59 left, grabbing Murray as he was going up for a layup. … A contestant at halftime made a halfcourt shot for a $250 scholarship. Javaughn Love’s shot hit the shot clock and the top of the backboard, but bounced in. Love’s twin brother, Jovaughn Love, is redshirting this season for UAPB because of a knee injury. … Attendance was … 3,235.