EL PASO – Stefon Jackson scored 30 points in a 83-72 victory over the Sam Houston State Bearkats Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center.
"That is a hard game against a very well coached team that has always played great, great defense," head coach Tony Barbee said. "I expected it to be a hard fought, hard contested game."
Freshman forward Arnett Moultrie aided Jackson's effort with his second double-double of the season, recording 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"In my opinion I think he is one of the best freshmen in the nation," Jackson said.
Even with the double-digit efforts from both Moultrie and Jackson, the Miners found themselves down 42-35 as the half ended. Jackson attributed the slow start to not having played a game since Nov. 30 against Arizona State.
"I think we were a little flat, but we haven't played a game in a long time," Jackson said. "We had a little rust we had to shake off."
The game began as a back-and-forth affair that included two lead changes until the Bearkats took a 9-8 lead, following a 3-point shot by sophomore guard Lance Pevehouse. Sam Houston State would increase the lead by ending the first half on a 9-4 run, which was capped off by a one-handed shot by Pevehouse from beyond half court line that went in as the buzzer sounded.
"We didn't know it counted until coach Barbee came in and told us it counted," Jackson said. "It was a tough shot…nobody is going to make that shot in a year probably."
Despite the shot, the team knew what they had to do to get back into the game.
"Forget the offense, straight defense," Jackson said.
After a locker room talk in which coach Barbee stressed that his team improve upon their overall and transition defense, the Miners outscored the Bearkats 48-30 in the second half.
Coach Barbee attributed the Miners improved transition defense as one of the keys to the Miners' victory.
"First half they (Sam Houston State) had 17 points in transition, that's why they were up," Barbee said. "In the second half they had zero, there's your game."
The Miners will hit the road when they play their next opponent, I-10 rival New Mexico State. Tip off for the Dec. 14 game is scheduled for 2 p.m. MT.
Eddie Delgado is a staff writer for MinerDigs.net. He can be reached at email@example.com .