JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the second straight game, Jacksonville University men's basketball erased a twelve-point second half deficit, this time rallying to beat Kennesaw State 65-58 at home on Thursday, and start 2-0 in ASUN Conference play for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
"We have a little bit of a love/hate relationship [with our team]," said Head Coach Tony Jasick.
"Give our guys a lot of credit for their resiliency in the second half."
Jacksonville started its first home conference game of the season strong, scoring the first two of the game on a Jalyn Hinton layup, but Kennesaw State soon took the lead and set the tone in the first half with a methodical offense and active defense. The Owls held JU to 36 percent shooting in the first half and forced eight Dolphin turnovers.
JU's freshman stars were also limited, as reigning ASUN Newcomer of the Week Hinton scored just two first half points and JD Notae had to sit the final 11:30 of the first half with two fouls as the Dolphins trailed 32-25 at the break.
"[Coach Jasick] came in and told us we're better than that, which we are, and either step it up or we're going to get blown out at home. We took that as a challenge," said senior guard Devin Harris.
The start of the second half was more of the same, with Kennesaw State extending its seven point lead to 12, 41-29, in the opening moments.
Jace Hogan hit a jumper to cut it to 10 at the 17:52 mark, and over the next 3:09, four other Dolphins would all score, capped off by a Harris layup in transition to tie it at 41.
"We moved it around, and whoever had the open lane, played off two feet and we just let them go," said Harris.
Notae made a layup to give JU its first lead since the first basket of the game, and JU finished its run at 16-2. Kennesaw State took one final lead at the 12:07 mark on a Jordan Jones free throw, but Harris made two free throws of his own with 9:44 remaining, the first free throws attempted all night by Jacksonville, to put JU back out in front, 47-46, and the Dolphins never looked back.
"I really like our team when we play with energy and we're unselfish and the ball stays happy and we guard. I really don't like our team when we're lethargic and try to force things offensively," said Jasick.
"Fortunately for most of the second half, we played the way I think we have to [in order] to be successful."
Both Harris and Notae scored 12 of their team-high 14 points in the second half, and Hogan had 14 of his own. The Jacksonville defense clamped down after halftime, holding Kennesaw State to just 23 percent shooting after the break, while Jacksonville improved to 54 percent. Tyler Hooker led the Owls with 16 points.
Jacksonville continues its homestand Saturday night, welcoming the Lipscomb Bisons to Swisher Gym. Tip is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and it is Military Appreciation Day, so all active and retired military personnel and their families get in free.
- With 12 second half points, JD Notae has now scored in double-figures for 13 straight games
- Jace Hogan has scored in double-figures in 10 of the 13 games he has appeared in this season
- The 23 percent shooting that Jacksonville held Kennesaw State to in the second half is the lowest shooting percentage for an opponent this season
- Devin Harris tied his season and career high for assists with eight
- Jacksonville shot 5-14 from three, including three in the first half to keep it close. Kennesaw State was limited to just one made three-pointer on 14 attempts. The only one made three and the six percent shooting from deep were both season lows for an opponent
"There's no trick, but it is really talking to each other and lifting each other's spirits up. That is one thing we're really good at. We do a great job of saying 'hey, you'll make the next one'"
- Devin Harris on how the team has found success coming from behind.