Rice’s Monmouth team plays better after COVID pause behind Walker Miller’s 22 points; Wes Miller nears 200 wins; Kessler has 15 points, 6 blocks

By R.L. Bynum

After getting off to the best start in program history at 10–2, Coach King Rice’s Monmouth team has hit a rough stretch but showed signs Tuesday night of rebounding.

The Hawks (10–6, 2–3 MAAC) went on a COVID-19 pause after a loss to Hofstra on Dec. 22 and didn’t play again until last Friday. Two losses this week extended Monmouth’s losing streak to four, but an 86–85 overtime home loss to Iona on Tuesday was encouraging.

Monmouth came off the COVID pause with a 67–62 loss Friday at Saint Peter’s, then Hawks lost Sunday at Marist 84–48 before playing much better against Iona, coached by Rick Pitino.

Walker Miller scored five points and, for the first time this season, pulled down no rebounds against Marist. But he played well against the Gaels.

In 36 minutes against Iona, he went 11 of 20 from the floor and collected 22 points, seven rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block. He battled foul trouble with four fouls, the fifth time this season he’s had at least four fouls.

After never scoring more than 16 points in an entire season during his four years at Carolina, it was Miller’s fifth game this season with at least 20 points.

Coach Wes Miller’s Cincinnati team is 13–5 and 3–2 in the AAC after scoring 10 3-pointers in a 61–57 road victory Sunday over Wichita State. It was the Bearcats’ second consecutive victory and his 198th career coaching win.

No. 2 Auburn beat Georgia 83–60 at home Wednesday for the Tigers’ 14 consecutive victory, behind Walker Kessler’s 15 points, six rebounds and six blocks. It was Kessler’s fifth game this season with at least six blocks.

Auburn (17–1, 6–0 SEC) is alone in first place in the SEC with its best league start in 63 seasons. Next is a showdown at home with No. 12 Kentucky at 1 p.m. Saturday (CBS).

Brandon Huffman had 10 points, four rebounds and a season-high three blocks in Jacksonville State’s 86–81 road ASUN Conference victory Tuesday over Central Arkansas. He blocked four shots twice last season (vs. Eastern Kentucky and Murray State).

It was the sixth consecutive victory for the Gamecocks (11–6, 4–0 ASUN), who are one of four unbeaten teams in the league.

Huffman’s back-to-back buckets gave Jacksonville State a quick 4–0 lead.


Garrison Brooks didn’t miss in Mississippi State’s 80–72 road loss at Florida on Wednesday but he only took three shots, including a 3-point try, and finished with seven points, two rebounds and two assists. It was the third time in the last five games that Brooks hasn’t scored in double-digits.

The Bulldogs (12–5, 3–2 SEC) had their two-game win streak snapped.

New Mexico (7–11, 0–5 Mountain West) lost 80–74 at Colorado State on Wednesday night for the Lobos’ fifth consecutive loss. For the second consecutive game, Jeremiah Francis didn’t play.

How the seven former Tar Heels did

Garrison Brooks, Mississippi State center
Wednesday loss at Florida — Started; 25 minutes, 7 points, 3–3 FG, 1–1 3FG, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 fouls, 1 turnover, -19
Season statistics — 17 games, 17 starts, 10.9 points, 47.7 FG%, 33.3% 3FG%, 75.0% FT%, 6.6 rebounds; season totals of 13 assists, 13 blocks, 5 steals
Up next — 4 p.m. Saturday vs. Mississippi, ESPNU; 9 p.m. Tuesday at Kentucky, ESPN
Jeremiah Francis, New Mexico guard
80–74 Wednesday loss at Colorado State —
Didn’t play
Season statistics — 7 games, 2.0 points, 40.0% FG, 2–6 3FG; season totals of 5 rebounds, 13 assists, 1 block
Up next — 7:30 Saturday at Wyoming, CBS Sports Network; 9 p.m. Tuesday vs. Fresno State, Stadium
Brandon Huffman, Jacksonville State forward/center
86–81 Tuesday win at Central Arkansas —
Started; 23 minutes, 10 points, 4–5 FG, 2–3 FT, 4 rebounds, 2 fouls, 3 turnovers, 3 blocks
Season statistics — 17 games, 17 starts, 9.8 points, 65.0 FG%, 62.7 FT%, 6.1 rebounds; season totals of 3 assists, 18 blocks and 8 steals
Up next — 4 p.m. Saturday vs. Florida Gulf Coast, ESPN+; 6:30 Thursday, Jan. 27, at Kennesaw State, ESPN+
Walker Kessler, Auburn forward/center
83–60 Wednesday win vs. Georgia —
Started; 27 minutes, 15 points, 7–11 FG, 0–3 3FG, 1–2 FT, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 6 blocks, 1 steal, +23
Season statistics —
18 games, 18 starts, 10.3 points, 60.8 FG%, 14.8% 3FG, 63.9 FT%, 7.4 rebounds; season totals of 16 assists, 77 blocks, 19 steals
Up next — 1 p.m. Saturday vs. Kentucky, CBS; 8:30 Tuesday at Missouri, SEC Network
Walker Miller, Monmouth forward
84–48 Sunday loss at Marist —
Started; 14 minutes, 5 points, 2–6 FG, 0–1 3FG, 1–1 FT, 0 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 1 block
86–85 OT Tuesday loss vs. Iona — Started; 36 minutes, 22 points, 11–20 FG, 0–1 3FG, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 fouls, 1 turnover, 1 block, 2 steals, +2
Season statistics —
16 games, 16 starts, 14.4 points, 48.3 FG%, 31.0 3FG%, 82.5 FT%, 6.2 rebounds; season totals of 14 assists, 15 blocks, 10 steals
Up next — 7:30 Thursday at Fairfield, ESPN+; 2 p.m. Sunday vs. Manhattan
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
Season statistics —
8 games, 4 starts, 7.4 points, 53.7 FG%, 33.3 3FG%, 2.4 rebounds; season total of 23 assists, 6 steals, 2 blocks
Up next — 4 p.m. Saturday vs. Howard; 7:30 Monday at Norfolk State, ESPNU

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