By David Rogers. January 31, 2019. BOONE, NC — Slam dunks, steals, dribble-drives, thundering rebounds, crisp passing, daggers shot from long range — and ferocious defense. If you are a High Country basketball fan, Thursday night’s performance by Appalachian State at the Holmes Center was about as good as it gets. If you drove almost 900 miles from Lafayette, Louisiana — well, not so much.
COVER IMAGE: 6-9 redshirt junior forward Hunter Seacat puts an exclamation point on App State’s Thursday night dominance with a thundering slam dunk in the second half. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
SLIDESHOW at bottom of story
The Mountaineers shook off any early season demons by jumping out to a 31-10 lead in just the first 10 minutes of play, then kept the proverbial “pedal to the metal” in racing past Louisiana, 104-77, in front of 853 basketball fans on Heroes Night, honoring military personnel as well as first responders.
Four of five App State starters scored in double figures, but it was 6-8 senior forward Tyrell Johnson who came off the bench to record a game-high 20 points. Normally an “inside guy” doing his damage down low, in the paint, on this night Johnson demonstrated his versatility by shooting 7-of-10 from the field, including going 2-for-3 from beyond the 3-point arc. For good measure, the Atlanta native made good on 4-of-5 shots from the free throw line and added two offensive rebounds.
On defense, the Mountaineers forced 21 Ragin’ Cajun turnovers and converted them for 26 points. Many of App State’s 12 steals on the night turned into attacks in transition which saw the regular tenants of the Holmes Center outpoint Louisiana, 12-2, on fast breaks. While forcing Louisiana into 21 turnovers, the Mountaineers only committed nine.
Appalachian State was ahead 17-0 before Louisiana’s sophomore guard Cedric Russell layed up the visitors’ first basket with 14:51 left to play in the first half.
With 138 assists and 48 steals on the season, much of the Ragin’ Cajun offense goes through Marcus Stroman, a 6-2 senior point guard from Columbia, SC. On this night, Stroman’s production was tempered by the Mountaineers, with only two assists and two steals to go along with two points and three rebounds.
Three NBA scouts were reportedly in attendance at the game, with most of their focus on 6-8 senior forward JaKeenan Gant, a native of Springfield, GA. Gant was able to record a double-double on the evening with 15 points and 10 rebounds, but the Mountaineers kept him well below his season average of almost 21 points (20.9) scoring coming into the game.
Other than Tyrell Johnson’s game-high 20 points, other key performances by individual Mountaineers included:
- Junior forward Isaac Johnson recording his sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and 14 rebounds, as well as five steals
- Redshirt junior forward Hunter Seacat shot 6-of-9 from the field and a perfect 2-for-2 from the foul line in scoring 14 points and pulling down seven rebounds
- Sophomore guard Justin Forrest poured in 17 points to go with three rebounds and three steals
- Senior guard Ronshad Shabazz settled for 12 points and a couple of assists
- Senior forward Bennett Holley came off the bench to make 2-of-3 from behind the arc
- Freshman guard Adrian Delph shot 50% (3-of-6) from the field for seven points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of court time
App State looks to extend its winning streak and move up in the Sun Belt Conference standings on Saturday when facing Louisian-Monroe in the Holmes Center, with tipoff at 2:00 pm. Louisiana-Monroe is 11-9 overall, 4-4 in conference after losing to Coastal Carolina on Thursday, 92-81.
SLIDESHOW by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News