Men’s college basketball

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There wasn’t much energy from the Alabama State men’s basketball team through the first 20 minutes.

Hornets head coach Lewis Jackson recognized that and made sure he addressed the issue at halftime.

“We needed to play with more energy, push the ball more and try to speed up the game a little bit,” Jackson said. “We were kind of lethargic. A long layoff, we’re off like (nine) days and we came out and were dragging a little bit.”

Message received.

Sophomore Jamel Waters poured in 13 of his 15 points after the break and backcourt mate DeMarcus Robinson scored 10 to help lift Alabama State to a 59-52 victory over Western Illinois on Monday night at the Acadome.

“Coach told us to be more aggressive and execute the offense,” said Waters, who connected on just 1-of-5 shots during the first half. “He wanted us to play more defense and make them work the ball more so we could get the clock working against them.”

The Hornets (4-3) began to add some distance from the Leathernecks when freshman Terrance LeFlore drilled his second 3-pointer of the night with just over five minutes left to make it 47-38. Maurice Strong’s three-point play — which was set up by a pass from Waters — two minutes later increased the lead to 10.

Western Illinois (4-5) tried its best to tighten the deficit down the stretch, but Alabama State went 7-of-11 at the line to close it out.

With SWAC games just around the corner, Waters likes what he’s seeing thus far.

“We got a little rhythm going, and guys are coming off the bench providing a little spark,” said the Birmingham native, who leads the team in scoring. “I think we can do some good things if we can continue to grow and mature as the season goes on.”

It certainly wasn’t the prettiest half of college basketball, but the Hornets were able to grab a one-point edge at the break despite turning it over nine times. Alabama State shot 43 percent (10-of-23) and scored 11 points off 10 turnovers by the Leathernecks.

“We didn’t play as well as I thought we could play, but it felt good to get a W,” said Jackson, whose squad has won four of its last five games, including all three home games in 2013.

Junior swingman Adam Link registered 16 points and nine rebounds to lead Western Illinois.

The Hornets return to action this weekend at the Tulane Westin Holiday Classic, a two-day tournament in New Orleans.

This story was originally published at: http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20131217/SPORTS0403/312170025

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About tgayle

Tim Gayle is a sports reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper and montgomeryadvertiser.com.
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