By MIKE SMITH
OXFORD, Ohio – The shots weren’t falling and the energy wasn’t flowing for the Miami RedHawks Tuesday in first half action against Jackson State at Millett Hall. Miami needed a lift, and it got it from two inside players as the RedHawks came from behind to post a 64-53 win over JSU.
Point guard Eric Washington, who came in averaging a team-high 12.9 ppg, led all scorers with 19 points. But the RedHawks were also able to tap their inside game – particularly in the decisive second half. Chris Bryant and L.J. Livingston both recorded double-doubles as . . .
"I don't know that we've had two post players with double-doubles since I've been here," Miami head coach John Cooper said.
Bryant scored a career-high 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Fourteen of his points came after intermission. Livingston contributed 11 point and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Geovonie McKnight reached double figures, netting 10 markers while dishing out seven assists – five in the second half
Jackson State, which entered the game with four players averaging in double figures, was led by Raeford Worsham and Chance Franklin. Both registered 12 points and seven rebounds. No other Tiger reached double figures and Miami’s bench outscored JSU 21-12.
Both teams struggled mightily in the first half. Jackson State (4-7) shot just 28.1 percent from the field, but the 9 of 32 performance gave it two more field goals (and one more trey) than Miami. The RedHawks were just 7 of 29 (24.1%) from the floor with two treys).
"I don't know where our energy was in the first half. We seemed absolutely lathargic," Cooper said. "We just couldn't get it going. ... I think we charged seven shots within two to three feet that we missed. ... From an offensive standpoint, we're struggling."
Washington and Livingston combined for seven points early while the lead see-sawed back and forth, but five straight points by JSU put the visitors up 10-7.
Miami suddenly found it difficult to score from anywhere. Perimeter shots rattled out. Inside shots wouldn’t fall. Drives were cut off by swarming help defense, and MU couldn’t get to the foul line – a key part of the RedHawks identity.
Bryant’s put-back tip at 13:57 was the only Miami points.in a span of over 12 minutes. Fortunately for MU, Jackson State went through a relative dry spell of its own before creeping out to a 17-9 lead.
Livingston finally scored on a put-back tip-in at 5:01, but JSU played add on, gaining a 12-point advantage on a bucket by Worsham at 1:53. Logan McLane hit a three from the corner and Livingston scored in the lane for Miami to cut the halftime deficit to 24-17.
Besides cold shooting, two other things marked the first half. Miami had 10 turnovers to six for the Tigers. MU also had one free throw (on three attempts) to its credit. Jackson State was 3 of 5 on charity tosses.
The comeback really got going on five points by Bryant over a two-second span. First, he scored on an “and-one” at 14:53. McKnight then stole the inbounds pass and fed Bryant for another basket.
Miami grabbed 11 steals on the night, although Jackson State nearly matched that with 10. By the final whistle, MU owned 18 turnover to JSU’s 16. Each team scored 12 points off turnovers.
With the RedHawks driving, Jackson State fouls began to pile up, and the Tigers reached 10 with 10:59 remaining. Washington’s two free throws at that point pulled Miami within one at 40-39. A McKnight toss tied things at 42-42 before Abdoulaye Harouna’s jumper gave MU its first lead since early in the first half.
A Paris Collins three-ball tied things at 45-all with 8:51 remaining, but Miami soon took the lead for good. Two Washington free throws kicked off a 12-2 RedHawks run. Miami led 57-47 with 2:52 to go and Jackson State would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
"You've got to be tough enough to win some games ugly ... (a game) where your defense keeps you in the game and you rebound," Cooper said. "As ugly as that game was (at times), that's what kept us in it. And, of course, we score 47 points in the second half, so that helps."
Miami returns to action Friday at Tennessee Tech (8:30 p.m. ET).