Huffman, Kessler have their teams unbeaten, leading their leagues

By R.L. Bynum

Former North Carolina centers Brandon Huffman and Walker Kessler both are playing for teams that are unbeaten in league play and atop their conferences.

Brandon Huffman’s Jacksonville State team won three games last week in the ASUN Conference.

Huffman scored 12 points in Jacksonville State’s 65–60 Monday home victory over Bellarmine, 11 in the Gamecocks’ Thursday win at Kennesaw State and six in their 77–67 Saturday victory at Liberty.

With the win over the Flames, Jacksonville State ended the second-longest home win streak in the country at 45, in a victory over the three-time reigning league champions.

The Gamecocks (15–6, 8–0 ASUN) are the only unbeaten team in league play and have won 10 in a row since losing at Alabama on Dec. 18. They play five of their last eight regular-season games at home.

Jacksonville State leads the ASUN West by a game over Bellarmine.


Kessler had 13 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in No. 1 Auburn’s 55–54 Tuesday victory at Missouri and 21 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in the Tigers’ 86–68 Saturday home win over Oklahoma.

The Tigers (20–1) lead the SEC at 8–0, two games ahead of Kentucky.

Kessler scored his fourth and fifth 3-pointers of the season against the Sooners.

“They never told me not to shoot. They told me to shoot every time,” Kessler said. “As a shooter and as a player, it helps you a lot, puts confidence in you. You’re bound to make a couple.”


Garrison Brooks contributed 11 points and five rebounds as Mississippi State (13–7, 4–3 SEC) rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit Tuesday before losing at Kentucky 82–74 in overtime. Fifty-five of Brooks’ 72 double-figure scoring games have come in the last three seasons.

On Saturday, though, he was held to seven points in the Bulldogs’ 76–50 loss at Texas Tech.

The Bulldogs are fifth in the SEC, 3.5 games back of Auburn.


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Coach King Rice’s Monmouth team split a pair of home MAAC games, with Walker Miller scoring 17 points in both to give him 16 double-figure scoring games this season.

Miller had eight rebounds and four assists in Friday’s 72–67 win over Canisius and nine rebounds and two assists in Sunday’s 70–69 overtime loss to Niagara.

Miller missed an off-balance 10-foot jumper at the buzzer against Niagara, which is coached by former Duke player Greg Paulus.

“All the credit to Niagara, they outplayed us, they outfought us, and when that happens you don’t deserve to win,” Monmouth coach King Rice said.

The Hawks (13–7, 5–4), who are fourth in the MAAC, 4.5 games back of first-place Iona, rallied from a 14-point deficit to force overtime.


Seventh Woods collected five points, three rebounds and four assists in Morgan State’s 82–62 road loss Monday at MEAC-leading Norfolk State. The Bears (7–10, 2–3 MEAC) snapped a three-game losing streak Sunday with an 82–70 home win against Delaware State with Woods battling foul trouble, finishing with four points and four assists in 12 minutes.

Morgan State is fifth in the MEAC, 3.5 games behind first-place Norfolk State.


New Mexico split two games last week, losing to Fresno State 65–50 Tuesday and beating San Jose State 86–70 Friday, but Jeremiah Francis didn’t play in either game. He isn’t injured and is just having trouble cracking the Lobos’ rotation.

The Lobos (8–13, 1–7 MWC) are 10th in the 11-team Mountain West Conference, ahead of only 0–7 San Jose State.

How the seven former Tar Heels did

Garrison Brooks, Mississippi State center
74–72 OT Tuesday loss at Kentucky —
Started; 30 minutes, 11 points, 4–10 FG, 1–3 3FG, 2–8 FT, 5 rebounds, 3 fouls, 1 assist, 3 turnovers
76–50 Saturday loss at Texas Tech — Started; 31 minutes, 7 points, 3–8 FG, 1–2 3FG, 4 rebounds, 4 turnovers, -24
Season statistics — 20 games, 20 starts, 11.0 points, 47.3 FG%, 33.3% 3FG%, 67.4% FT%, 6.3 rebounds; season totals of 14 assists, 13 blocks, 7 steals
Up next — 7 p.m. Tuesday vs. South Carolina, ESPNU; 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Arkansas, SEC Network
———————————————
Jeremiah Francis, New Mexico guard
65–50 Tuesday loss vs. Fresno State and 86–70 Friday win vs. San Jose State —
Didn’t play
Season statistics — 8 games, 1.8 points, 40.0% FG, 2–6 3FG; season totals of 5 rebounds, 13 assists, 1 block
Up next — 9 p.m. Friday vs. San Jose State, Mountain West Network; 10 p.m. Monday at San Diego State, FS1
———————————————
Brandon Huffman, Jacksonville State forward/center
65–60
Monday win vs. Bellarmine — Started; 21 minutes, 12 points, 6–7 FG, 0–1 FT, 3 rebounds, 2 fouls, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 1 block
70–64 Thursday win at Kennesaw State — Started; 21 minutes, 11 points, 4–5 FG, 3–8 FT, 10 rebounds, 4 fouls, 2 turnovers, 1 block
77–67 Saturday win at Liberty — Started; 18 minutes, 6 points, 3–5 FG, 2 rebounds, 2 fouls, 2 turnovers, +5
Season statistics — 21 games, 21 starts, 9.7 points, 58.1 FG%, 58.1 FT%, 6.1 rebounds; season totals of 4 assists, 20 blocks and 8 steals
Up next — 8:30 Thursday vs. North Florida, ESPN+; 4 p.m. Saturday vs. Jacksonville, ESPN+
———————————————
Walker Kessler, Auburn forward/center
55–54 Tuesday win at Missouri —
Started;30 minutes; 13 points, 5–10 FG, 0–1 3FG, 3–4 FT, 12 rebounds, 1 turnover, 2 blocks, -5
86–68 Saturday win vs. Oklahoma — Started; 31 minutes, 21 points, 9–11 FG, 2–4 3FG, 2–4 FT, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks, 1 steal
Season statistics —
21 games, 21 starts, 11.3 points, 62.7 FG%, 18.8% 3FG, 66.7 FT%, 7.7 rebounds; season totals of 18 assists, 85 blocks, 20 steals
Up next — 9 p.m. Tuesday vs. Alabama, ESPN; 1 p.m. Saturday at Georgia, SEC Network
———————————————
Walker Miller, Monmouth forward
72–67 Friday win vs. Canisius —
Started; 33 minutes, 17 points, 6–11 FG, 5–6 FT, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 4 blocks
70–69 Sunday OT loss vs. Niagara — Started; 36 minutes, 17 points, 6–16 FG, 1–3 3FG, 4–6 FT, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, -6
Season statistics —
19 games, 19 starts, 14.6 points, 48.6 FG%, 31.4 3FG%, 81.3 FT%, 6.1 rebounds; season totals of 17 assists, 16 blocks, 12 steals
Up next — 7 p.m. Friday vs. Fairfield; 2 p.m. Sunday at Quinnipiac
———————————————
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
82–62
Monday loss at Norfolk State — Started; 22 minutes, 5 points, 2–10 FG, 0–3 3FG, 1–2 FT, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
82–70 Sunday win vs. Delaware State — Started; 12 minutes, 4 points, 2–3 FG, 2 rebounds, 4 fouls, 4 assists, 2 turnovers
Season statistics —
11 games, 7 starts, 6.2 points, 46.4 FG%, 25.0 3FG%, 65.0% FT, 2.5 rebounds; season total of 36 assists, 6 steals, 2 blocks
Up next — 7:30 Monday at Maryland Eastern Shore; 4 p.m. Saturday vs. N.C. Central
———————————————

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