EMCC’s season-opening win streak snapped with 58-49 loss at Jones College

Published 2:06 pm Friday, December 9, 2022

ELLISVILLE – The East Mississippi Community College men’s basketball team fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with Thursday’s 58-49 road setback to Jones College in non-conference action played at A.B. Howard Gymnasium.

Following an 8-0 start on the season, with seven wins coming by 10 points or more, EMCC struggled from the perimeter against the Bobcats. The Lions dug themselves a nine-point hole (24-15) in the opening half after hitting only 8-of-35 (23%) shots from the field, including just 1-of-15 from beyond the three-point arc, during the opening 20 minutes of play.

After Jones increased its 25-19 halftime lead to double figures (34-24) four minutes into the second stanza, the Lions went on a 12-4 run to cut the deficit to a basket (38-36) midway through the half. The Bobcats countered with three straight baskets coming on second chance points off the offensive boards to go back up by eight points.

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Jones maintained that advantage until around the two-minute mark when the visitors trimmed the lead to five points (53-48) following baskets by Terrell Dixon and Blake Butler. With a minute left, a missed one-and-one opportunity by EMCC at the free throw line and a clutch offensive rebound by the Bobcats down the stretch sealed the Lions’ fate.

Limited to just 27.5 percent (19-of 69) shooting from the field overall, including 3-of-28 (11%) from three-point range, and making only 8-of-19 (42%) free throws during the Jones contest, the Lions were held to their lowest single-game scoring output since an early-season 66-42 loss at Vincennes during the 2018-19 season. That year, EMCC turned things around late in the season with a nine-game winning streak in February that led to the school’s first men’s basketball conference championship since the 1930s.

Tremaine Dixon Jr. led EMCC with 15 points against the Bobcats. With only eight points, Butler was held under the 10-point mark for the first time this season after earning NJCAA and MACCC Player of the Week honors for his 45-point performance at Northwest Mississippi on Nov. 14. Kevin Henry also tallied eight points for the Lions, as did Jacob Reese, who additionally collected a career-high 21 rebounds, including 10 offensive boards.

Jay Barnes paced Jones College in scoring with all 14 of his points coming in the second half. Zandon Haralson and Caleb McGill followed with 13 and 11 points, respectively, for the Bobcats.

Coach Billy Begley’s 8-1 EMCC Lions are set to close out their pre-holiday hoops slate by playing at Shelton State Community College on Monday (Dec. 12) as part of a men’s/women’s doubleheader against the Bucs. A 5:30 p.m. women’s game will be followed by a 7:30 p.m. men’s contest in Tuscaloosa.