December 23, 2012
By KEITH FREEMAN
LAS VEGAS _ A.J. Davis scored 18 points, all in the second half, to lead James Madison from a 13-point deficit to a 77-68 victory over San Jose State during a Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic game on Saturday.
Davis made 6 of his 8 field-goal attempts including 4-of-6 from three-point range for James Madison (5-6), which came back from a 34-24 halftime deficit to claim a 38-37 lead with 14:54 left in the second half due to a 14-3 run.
"He did a lot of good things for us," James Madison coach Matt Brady said. "He made good decisions on offense. For a stretch there, he was our best player.
"A.J. has been an inconsistent player for us, but tonight was his best effort of the season. At the beginning of the second half, he made some key shots and played with (intensity) on the defensive end. When he can do those two things, then we're a significantly different team."
As a team, the Dukes made 78 percent (18-of-23) of their field-goal attempts in the second half and were at 48 percent (26-of-54) for the game after making just 26 percent (8-for-31) of those shots in the first half. They also shot at a 100 percent clip (7-of-7) from three-point range in the second half after making just 14 percent (2-of-14) of their threes in the first half.
Davis had the final five points of that 14-3 run and then went on to score the rest of his 16 points, all in the second half.
The run, incidentally, started after D.J. Brown's three-pointer had given the Spartans a 37-24 lead.
Then, San Jose State (5-5) went on a 12-3 run and was ahead 49-41 before the Dukes came alive again.
The Dukes immediately went on a 14-4 run and took a 55-53 lead with 8:27 left. Davis made two three-pointers during this stretch while Rayshawn Goins also supplied six points during the run, which ended when Goins made two free throws.
"I took a few shots (in the first half) and he (Brady) pulled me out," Davis said. "He told me to stay aggressive and get to the basket; that my outside game would come to me.
"We had to stay poised and let the game come to us. We were rushing in the first half, but we were being poised and being patient in the second half."
Two free throws allowed the Spartans to tie at 55 with 8:03 left, but the Dukes soon went ahead 58-55 on Davis' three-pointer. Davis followed that with a dunk at 6:01 and the Dukes owned a 60-57 lead. That started a 9-2 run that saw the Dukes claim a 67-57 lead with 4:21 left. Three-pointers by Devon Moore and Ron Curry started this run, which ultimately secured the victory.
After Davis, the Dukes had Goins with 13 points and nine rebounds, Moore with 12 points and seven assists and Charles Cooke with 11 points.
"Tonight, we let the first half get away, but we had a (great) team effort in the second half," Brady said. "Everyone contributed, especially at the defensive end."
"It was a poorly played first half on our behalf, but our guys just did what we asked them to (in the second half)."
The Dukes will
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