By David Rogers. January 22, 2015. BOONE, NC — Arguably, the Appalachian State men’s basketball team should have been road weary, having played eight games in the last 18 days to start the new year, only half of them at home. But there was nary a hint of jet lag evident Thursday night, as the Mountaineers raced past the Jaguars of South Alabama, 64-53, in front of 1,572 at the Holmes Convocation Center.
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COVER IMAGE: Senior forward Tommy Spagnolo led a strong inside effort for the Mountaineers, outscoring So. Alabama in the paint, 30-22.
After winning their third straight game — all against Sun Belt Conference opponents, including preseason conference favorite Georgia State last Saturday — the Mountaineers will go into San Marcos, Texas this weekend vs. Texas State, brimming with confidence.
Compared to the Mountaineers’ high-scoring, 104-95 loss to South Alabama in Mobile, AL on January 8th, Thursday’s rematch was an entirely different kind of game.
“I’m obviously very pleased with our effort,” App State head coach Jim Fox told reporters afterwards. “Our game plan was to play some defense. To guard somebody this time. I’m very proud of our guys in the way they did that.
“You know,” the first head coach added, “shots weren’t falling for us the way they have been, but we were able to get stops. (South Alabama) is a good team. They had some good shots. But our guys didn’t get discouraged. They were relentless.”
Junior guard Frank Eaves and fifth year senior Tommy Spagnolo shared team-high scoring honors at 15 points apiece. Spagnolo also hauled in 10 rebounds to record his sixth double-double of the season. His scoring line was punctuated by a three-pointer from the top of the key with 13:41 remaining in the game. It put the Mountaineers back ahead, 38-36, in what had been a see-saw affair. App State never looked back in gaining separation from the Jaguars on the shoulders of strong inside play from not only Spagnolo, but also from forward Jacob Lawson and Griffin Kinney coming off the bench. When Appalachian went ahead by 15 with just 1:17 remaining, Fox got playing time for his bench as South Alabama seemed to have folded up their tents and surrendered.
The Mountaineers will be in San Marcos on Saturday for a 5:30 pm Eastern time matchup with Texas State, then stays on the road for games vs. Georgia Southern in Statesville, GA on January 29th (7:30 pm EST) and at Louisiana-Lafayette on February 5th (8:15 pm EST).
SLIDESHOW of Game Images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News