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Senior Jonathan Boyd scored 20 points and converted six of his 10 three-point attempts, but it was not enough as the Alcorn State Braves lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes 100-60 Monday night.
The Braves knew that their first game of the 2009-10 season would present a significant, if not overwhelming, challenge. Alcorn State was facing a raucous crowd of over 11,000 at the Value City Arena eager to witness the debut of their beloved Buckeyes.
The Braves were competing against a team ranked 16th in the Associated Press top 25 preseason poll while Alcorn State won just six contests last season. Head coach Larry Smith inserted three freshmen into the starting lineup to face an Ohio State team returning all its starters from last year.
Alcorn State felt little comfort realizing that Ohio State forward/center Dallas Lauderdale would miss the game due to an injury to his hand.
The Braves gained momentum early by winning the opening tip, but the enthusiasm didn't last long. When Buckeye Evan Turner stole a Jamar Ragland pass attended for Keith Searcy and turned it into a fast-break slam dunk, the 2-0 deficit marked closest Alcorn State would be for the entirety of the game.
The score was 8-0 before Boyd made a three-pointer to get Alcorn State on the board. The Braves appeared jittery at the beginning of the game, and the size and athleticism of the Buckeyes made it difficult for the team to run its offense effectively.
Twelve minutes into the game, the Braves were trailing 34-15, and two players for the Buckeyes, Turner and Jon Diebler, had more points combined than the entire Braves' roster.
Boyd's three three-point baskets and some nice interior moves made by JaMarkus Holt were basically the only highlights to a first half that ended with Ohio State ahead 56-28. The Buckeyes leading 18 to five in assists and 15 to zero in points off of turnovers indicated that a blowout was occurring.
Despite the deficit, the Braves played the second half with more confidence and aggressiveness. Alcorn State was better able to run its half-court sets and drive to the basket.
The Braves converted on 11 of its 17 foul shots in the second half while attempting only three in the first. Unfortunately, the renewed sense of purpose didn't translate on the court as Alcorn State actually shot worse from the field and from three-point range in the second half.
Along with his 20 points, Boyd led the Braves in assists with three. Holt contributed nine points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks to the effort. Tony Eackles sparked the Braves off the bench, and his 14 points scored represented the most for any of the six freshmen that played forAlcorn State.
Ohio State finished the game with five players reaching double-digits in scoring. Diebler had 22 points, and William Buford chipped in 19.
Turner created a lasting memory by becoming just the second Buckeye to post a triple-double by registering 14 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists. The only other Ohio State player to perform such a feat was Dennis Hopson in 1986.
The Braves will next take on the Arkansas Razorbacks on the road Nov. 13. Alcorn State does not play in front of its home fans until Dec. 30 against Central Michigan.
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