GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – Guards Chandler Hash and Myson Jones combined for 48 points, as the Anderson men’s basketball team claimed its seventh consecutive win by outpacing Tusculum, 80-73, Wednesday night at Pioneer Arena.
Anderson (16-5, 11-4 SAC) maintained sole possession of second place in the league standings with its eighth straight win past the Pioneers, while recording its longest win streak of the season. The Trojans also improved to 10-1 away from the Abney Center with their seventh straight road win, while Tusculum fell to 3-18 overall and 2-13 in the conference with its second straight setback.
Tusculum finished the night shooting 47.5 percent from the field, while the Trojans overcame a slow start to finish the night shooting 42.1 percent, but compensated by connecting on their third-highest accuracy of the season from beyond the arc, at 52.2 percent (12-of-23). The Pioneers outscored AU, 36-22, in the paint, while the Trojans won the battle of the boards by six rebounds.
Hash moved into sixth-place all-time in Anderson’s scoring record books with the game-high 28 points and was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Jones added 20 points on the night, while DJ McGowan came off the bench to chip in eight points and equaled a career-best with a team-high eight rebounds. Redshirt junior Nick Jackson, who garnered his first start for the Black and Gold, finished with eight points and five boards.
Junior guard Darius Carter led the Pioneers with 20 points, with senior guard Addison Flynn netting 17. Sophomore forward Keith Jumper posted a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
“We were fortunate to win,” said Anderson head coach Jason Taylor. “[Tusculum] is a good, well-coached team. Our guys made plays when we needed them. There are more positives than negatives when you win on the road in this league.”
With the Trojans short-handed due to senior CJ Gleaton not making the trip to Greeneville because of an illness, Anderson opened sluggishly on the offensive end, connecting on just one of their first five field goal attempts. Tusculum was 3-of-4 on the other end to open the contest, including a pair of 3-pointers, as the Pioneers raced out to a quick 8-0 lead in the first two-plus minutes.
But Anderson countered with six unanswered points in the paint to trim to the early deficit to just two at the 16:17 mark of the opening half on a layup from senior Kyle Sledge. Following a basket by Tusculum’s Chase Mounce, AU cut the Pioneers’ advantage to 10-9 on the first of two straight 3-pointers from Jones and drew even for the first time of the night on Jones’ second straight 3-pointer as part of a rare four-point play with 14:29 on the clock.
Tusculum took advantage of its hot shooting to quickly counter and snap the deadlock with a 14-3 outburst to take their largest lead of the game, at 27-16 midway through the half. The Pioneers were shooting 88.9 percent from the field midway through the run, but Anderson battled back with sophomore guard Myles Daniel fueling an 8-0 run with five straight points as part of a 16-5 run to knot the score for just the second time of the night. Jackson capped the surge by knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the score at 32 apiece.
The Pioneers again answered quickly, this time with another 8-0 surge and closed the half with a 10-5 run to claim a 42-37 lead heading to the locker rooms.
After falling behind by eight to open the second stanza, the Trojans battled back to take their first lead of the night, 51-49, on Hash’s second 3-pointer of the game from the left side with 13:32 remaining in the contest. But the Trojans went cold over the next 4:42, as AU committed a pair of turnovers and misfired on four of their next five field goal attempts. The scoring drought enabled Tusculum to regain a 55-53 edge midway through the final half.
With the Pioneers clinging to a 59-54 lead, Hash sank back-to-back treys to give the Trojans a brief 60-59 advantage with less than seven minutes on the clock. But Tusculum outscored the Trojans 7-2 to take a four-point lead with just a little more than four minutes on the clock, before McGowan connected on one-of-two from the line and Jones sandwiched two 3-pointers around a Mounce jumper to regain a 69-68 lead for AU. McGowan followed with a tip-in to boost the cushion to three, but Carter answered on the other end with a traditional three-point play to knot the score for the eighth and final time of the night, at 71-71.
The Trojans then reeled off nine unanswered points, with Hash tallying seven in the final moments, to take an 80-71 lead with just nine seconds left. Carter added a basket at the buzzer to set the final score.
Anderson wraps up its three-game conference road swing by traveling to Wingate on Saturday in a rematch of the Dec. 4 game that saw the Bulldogs rally from a 17-point second-half deficit to claim the win at the Abney Athletic Center. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. at Cuddy Arena.