Miller scores 15 as Rice’s Monmouth team off to best start in school history; Kessler scores 19, Brooks 18

By R.L. Bynum

Coach King Rice’s Monmouth team is off to the best start in program history with the help of graduate transfer Walker Miller.

Miller scored 15 points Sunday as the Hawks beat Colgate at home 77–66 to push their record to 10–2 with the first 10-game home win streak under Rice. The eighth non-conference victory of the season is tied for the second-most in school history.

Miller scored six points, including a dunk, during an 8–0 run as Monmouth took a 17–7 lead in the first half.

“I made my first one on a right jump-hook and I got rolling after that. I just wanted to be aggressive,” said Miller, who had eight rebounds for his fifth game with at least eight. “Coach Rice has been telling me to get to my jump-hook and get to the areas of the floor I can work best.”

Fifth-year player George Papas scored 30 points to lead Monmouth to its 10th win in the last 11 games since losing at Charlotte in the season opener.

“Walker and George really pulled us together,” said Rice, whose team won at Pittsburgh. “Walker got off to a hot start and then George really got going. If our defense does what it did later in the game, maybe we could have gotten away from them earlier.”

Garrison Brooks scored 18 points and pulled down four rebounds as Mississippi State (8–3) held on for a 69–66 home win Friday over Furman. Brooks also collected two 3-pointers, a block and a steal.

Walker Kessler scored a season-high 19 points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked four shots in No. 13 Auburn’s 74–70 road victory over Saint Louis on Saturday night. His best game last season for Carolina was 20 points in a home win over Florida State on Feb. 17. Kessler is fifth in the country with 3.55 blocks per game for the Tigers (10–1).


Seventh Woods made his second consecutive start in Morgan State’s 74–60 Saturday loss at Mount St. Mary’s. Woods scored 11 points, his second double-figure-scoring game of the season, with a 3-pointer and five rebounds.

Woods helped the Bears (4–7) rally from a 36–30 halftime deficit by scoring seven of their first nine second-half points. Morgan State cut the lead to 46–45 but Mount St. Mary’s pulled away with a decisive 18–4 run.

Jacksonville State (5–6) split its two games last week. Brandon Huffman had nine points and five rebounds in the Gamecocks’ 66–59 home victory Wednesday over FIU and two points and two rebounds in Saturday’s 65–59 loss at Alabama. Huffman only played 14 minutes against the Tide because of foul trouble.

In his second season at New Mexico (6–6), junior guard Jeremiah Francis has only played in four of the Lobos’ 12 games and he didn’t get into the last two because he’s had trouble cracking their rotation. In those four games, he’s played 43 minutes with eight points, three rebounds and nine assists.

He went scoreless in his first two games, then scored six on Nov. 22 against Western New Mexico and two on Dec. 9 in his late game, an 87–67 victory over Denver.

Francis is playing behind guards Jaelen House, Jamal Mashburn Jr. and K.J. Jenkins, with House and Mashburn playing about 35 minutes per game.

How the seven former Tar Heels did

Garrison Brooks, Mississippi State center
69–66 Friday win vs. Furman —
Started; 27 minutes, 18 points, 6–9FG, 2–5 3FG, 4–6 FT, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 1 block, 1 steal, +5
Season statistics — 11 games, 11 starts, 11.4 points, 48.1 FG%, 40% 3FG%, 75.0% FT%, 7.4 rebounds; season totals of 6 assists, 7 blocks, 3 steals
Up next — 7 p.m. Tuesday vs. Winthrop in Jackson, Miss.; 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29 vs. Arkansas, SEC Network

Jeremiah Francis, New Mexico guard
Season statistics —
4 games, 2.0 points, 44.4% FG, 0–2 3FG; season totals of 3 rebounds and 9 assists
Up next — 10 p.m. Tuesday vs. Norfolk State; midnight Tuesday, Dec. 28 vs. Colorado State
Brandon Huffman, Jacksonville State forward/center
66–59 Wednesday win vs. FIU —
Started; 22 minutes, 9 points, 36 FG, 3–4 FT, 5 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 1 steal, +10
65–59 Saturday loss at Alabama — Started; 14 minutes, 2 points, 1–3 FG, 0–2 FT, 2 rebounds, 3 fouls, 1 turnover, 1 steal, -2
Season statistics — 11 games, 11 starts, 9.4 points, 59.1 FG%, 61.0 FT%, 5.9 rebounds; season totals of 2 assists, 20 turnovers, 9 blocks and 5 steals
Up next — 2 p.m. Tuesday at Little Rock; 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 28 vs. Carver
Walker Kessler, Auburn forward/center
74–70 win
Saturday at Saint Louis — Started; 30 minutes, 19 points, 8–12 FG, 0–2 3FG, 3–4 FT, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 4 blocks, 1 steal, +3
Season statistics — 11 games, 11 starts, 9.2 points, 53.7 FG%, 10.5% 3FG, 55.5 FT%, 7.3 rebounds; season totals of 11 assists, 37 blocks, 14 steals
Up next — 6 p.m. Wednesday vs. Murray State, SEC Network; 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29, vs. LSU, ESPN
Walker Miller, Monmouth forward
77–66 Sunday win vs. Colgate —
Started; 33 minutes, 15 points, 7–13 FG, 1–4 3FG, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 1 steal, +8
Season statistics — 12 games, 12 starts, 14.0 points, 46.5 FG%, 27.3 3FG%, 87.5 FT%, 6.8 rebounds; season totals of 11 assists, 13 blocks, 8 steals
Up next — 7 p.m. Wednesday vs. Hofstra; 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31 vs. Marist
Andrew Platek, Siena guard
Out for the season after having surgery to repair a full tear in the Achilles tendon in his left leg
Season statistics — 5 games, 3 starts, 9.0 points, 40.9 FG%, 31.3 3FG%, 4–4 FT, 3.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Seventh Woods, Morgan State guard
Saturday loss at Mount St. Mary’s — Started; 26 minutes, 11 points, 5–12 FG, 1–3 3FG, 5 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls
Season statistics —
5 games, 2 starts, 7.6 points, 50.0 FG%, 28.6 3FG%, 1.6 rebounds; season total of 7 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Up next — 5 p.m. Tuesday vs. James Madison; 7 p.m. Thursday at Wisconsin, Big Ten Network

Photo via @MonmouthBBall



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