Behind Arnold and Cracknell, Jaguars defeat rival USC Aiken

Troy Cracknell (21) scored 15 points to help Augusta University to a big road win at USC Aiken; he made 12 free throws in the 79-71 victory. (photo by Viraj Bulla)

By Carlos Rodriguez |
Sports writer

The Augusta University men’s basketball team defeated Peach Belt Conference arch-rival USC Aiken 79-71 on Wednesday night, Jan. 29,  at the Convocation Center in Aiken, S.C.

The Jags, who were coming off an agonizing 69-66 loss at Georgia College last Saturday, opened up the game strong going on a 9-0 run. Starting the run for the Jags was sophomore center Tyshaun Crawford after making a layup to give the Jags a 2-0 lead with 19:15 remaining. Sophomore Tyree Myers capped Augusta’s 9-0 run with a layup of his own with 17:25 remaining. USC Aiken junior Gus Rowland hit a jumper putting the Pacers on board for the first time as they trailed 9-2 with 17:09 remaining.

Sophomore Miguel Arnold, breaking out of a scoring slump, gave AU its biggest lead of the half after drilling a three-pointer with 16:17 remaining. That gave the Jags a 12-2 lead. The Pacers cut down AU’s lead to five after senior Xzavier Barmore knocked down two free throws with 6:23 remaining.  Sophomore Darren Lucas-White hit a shot before time expired to give Augusta a 41-32 lead at the half.

Myers and Arnold both led the Jags with eight points in the opening half.

In the second half, Crawford scored inside in the opening minute to give Augusta their biggest lead of the game 43-32. The Pacers fought back, cutting AU’s lead to one, 51-50, with 12:19 remaining after freshman Dhieu Deing hit a three-pointer. On the next possession, junior Troy Cracknell was fouled on a three-point attempt and knocked down all three free throws, increasing Augusta’s lead to four.

With 7:07 remaining, USC Aiken senior Faison Brock tied things up at 63-63 after hitting a jumper. A minute later, Shaquan Jules grabbed a rebound and put it back for a dunk to give Aiken their first lead of the game, 65-63. Cracknell regained the lead for Augusta after hitting a free throw with 2:43 remaining, putting the Jags up 68-67.

Jules made another dunk for the Pacers and tied things up at 69 with 1:54 remaining. Crawford answered back throwing down a dunk to give Augusta a 71-69 lead with 1:24 remaining.

Myers then drilled a three, pushing the lead to 74-69 with 41 seconds left. The Pacers had to make quick fouls, leading to Cracknell hitting five free throws in the final minute as the Jags went on to win 79-71. Cracknell was 12 of 14 from the line for the game.

Augusta had all starters score in double digits. Arnold led with 16, including three treys, Cracknell with 15, Myers with 14, Rafael Monteiro with 13 and nine rebounds, and Crawford had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

“Having everyone in double figures makes all of us a threat on offense,” Cracknell said. “This was a must win for us to stay near the top of the league. We were locked in from the jump.”

AU shot 43 percent from the field and held the Pacers to a 39-percent night. Both teams had 41 rebounds, and both teams committed 11 turnovers.

The Jags improve to 12-7 overall and 7-4 in conference while the Pacers fall to 12-9 overall and 8-3  in conference. AU is in fourth place in the PBC, two games behind UNC Pembroke and Lander. Next comes USC Aiken alone in third.

Augusta hosts Columbus State in a conference matchup on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 3:30 p.m. at Christenberry Fieldhouse. The Cougars are tied with AU in fourth place in the PBC.

In the women’s game Wednesday, USC took a 54-47 win over the Jags. Zairya West led AU (4-7, 7-12) with 18 points. AU hosts Columbus State at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 1.


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