Alabama A&M made a statement on Friday night by beating the Tulane University Green Waves in the unfriendly confines of the Delvin Fieldhouse, New Orleans, in overtime. Florida A&M made its own statement at home by dominating a Division II Johnson University while introducing a talented young group of transfers and freshmen.
Alabama A&M 68 Tulane University 67
With new rules in place this year by the NCAA, referees will call a foul just for touching an offensive player. There were concerns that such a clear rule would create a foul fest, slow the pace of the game, and frustrate fans. Though the Alabama A&M Bulldogs received the kind of calls expected of an away team, they kept their composure to take the game in the last seconds of overtime.
Alabama A&M led at the half by 25-19 and maintained the lead most of the game. However, Tulane scored in the second to last possession of the game to tie it at 65. Tulane then stole the ball from the Bulldogs and could not get off a game winning attempt before the final second in game regulation ticked off.
Throughout the game the Bulldogs received what the team felt were questionable calls that kept the A&M coach Willie Hayes smiling from the sidelines. It was not an affirming smile, but it helped him keep his composure and keep the Bulldogs focused on winning. The 6-5 senior Ladarius Tabb led the way for the Bulldogs scoring 22 points and grabbing 9 rebounds before fouling out late in the second half. That didn’t change the team’s momentum as others took advantage of accurate outside shooting to stay in the game.It was defense that paved the way for the Bulldogs. They shot only 39.1% in field goal attempts and 27.6% 3-point shooting. The Green Waves didn’t fare any better with a 38.6% field goal percentage and 25.9% 3-point shooting. The Green Waves had more opportunities at the free throw line where they failed to take advantage making only 16 of 26 shots. A&M saw fewer free throw opportunities and made only 10 of 17. Tulane had 3 turnovers in overtime and finished the game with 19 compared to A&M’s 15.
In overtime the Bulldogs outscored the Green Waves 3-2. The final shot was a drive to the basket for a layup that quieted a disappointed Tulane crowd. Tulane is not a top 25 Division 1 team. Still, they were at home and expected to win. Overall, the Alabama A&M Bulldogs matched them talent for talent even having enough talent come off of the bench to help win the game.
Tulane likely paid the Bulldogs a nice check for the visit. The Bulldogs will next play the Southeast Missouri State University Redhawks at home on November 19th. The Redhawks lost to Dayton on Friday night and will play Evansville on Sunday. The game at Alabama A&M will start at 7:00 PM central standard time.
FAMU 103 Johnson University (FL) 71
Johnson University even at the Division II level is not a good team. For FAMU that doesn’t matter. After losing most of its scoring punch from last year’s team due to NCAA rules that allowed players to leave and immediately play at other schools; and after winning only 3 games all of last year, this win was big. What fans saw was a team comprised of young, but talented freshmen (7) and sophomores (3), and just enough juniors (3) and seniors (2) to show that they are ready to bring excitement to the Al Lawson Center.
FAMU led at the half 51-30 and should have held the JU Suns to under 50 points for the game. Subbing freely with only one player smaller than 6 feet, the taller and equally fast Rattlers dominated everywhere it counted. In the second half they were a little less focused and were likely enjoying the difference in talent a little too much. Fans saw enough though to leave with the kind of smiles that you just didn’t see at all last year.
FAMU’s field goal percentage for the game was over 50%. Most of those shots in the first half were fast break points as the taller Rattlers played over the basket getting rebounds on defense and making layups and alley oops on the other end. The most dominant forward under the basket was 6’7 freshman Isaiah Omoregie of Tampa, Florida. He along with returning sophomore 6’10” Jordan Jackson, and 6’8 junior transfer Treavann Warren of Norkfolk, Virginia made lay ups and rebounds difficult for the JU Suns.
Redshirt junior Malcom Bernard showed why he should be considered a true Division 1 player. With his quickness and accurate left hand shooting he displayed lots of energy on offense and defense. At 6’6” he dribbled through and over the smaller opponents for easy baskets. When the fast break was not available freshman Justin Ravenal of Lithonia, Georgia showed that he has a knack for outside shooting. Freshman K’Ja Johnson as well as sophomore Craig Bowman and senior Jerran Foster showed signs they may be ready to rid the Rattlers of costly turnovers that left everyone frustrated all of last year.
Adding height to the forward position is returning senior 6’9’ Mario Karailiev from Bulgaria. Most intriguing are freshmen 6’8” Nicholas Severado of Savannah, Georgia and 6’9” Francois Lewis of Orlando, Florida, both of whom are not afraid to play guard as well as post. Returning sophomore small forward Johnathan Spicer started off a little slow coming off the bench before showing that he is ready to make a contribution.
On Sunday the Rattlers will play at the Division 1 Southern Illinois Salukis. On Friday night the Salukis defeated the Air Force at home 75-77. The Sunday game will begin at 4:00 PM eastern standard time.
[At the time of this writing Rattler statistics were not available.]