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JSU men: As Gamecocks sweep Murray State, Harper gets school-record 96th JSU Division I win

Ray Harper

Jacksonville State head coach Ray Harper's team beat Murray State for the second time this season.

JACKSONVILLE — After beating Murray State 87-74 on Thursday night, Ray Harper scanned a stat sheet, examining all the numbers.

Asked to break down the game, he pointed to several places — JSU making 13 of 24 from behind the 3-point arc, getting a season-high 30 points from Darian Adams, Demaree King finding the hot hand by making three 3-pointers, and his defense allowing what he considered too many points in the second half (44).

There's another number from Thursday connected to Harper that's important — 96. This marked his 96th win in his fifth season at JSU. That's a school Division I record. Mike LaPlante won 95 games in eight years.

"I honestly didn't even know that," Harper said afterward. "We've had some good kids over the course of these 4½, almost five years. We've won a lot of games. We've been right there with a chance to compete with the Murray States and the Belmonts, and that's what we wanted to do when we got here — make sure that they knew you can't just say, 'We're playing Jacksonville State, and we're going to win.' You're going to have to strap it on, and if you can beat us, you can beat us, but we're going to compete, and I think we've done that."

There's another figure important about Thursday — 2-0.

JSU is now 2-0 this season against Murray State. It's the first time the Gamecocks have swept a two-game regular-season series from the vaunted Racers.

"I will say this: when we came into the league, there were some comments made that I didn't necessarily agree with," Harper said, smiling. "I don't think there were a lot of people … what I wanted to do was for us to be somebody you paid attention to, and I think we've been able to do that."

What to know

—Jacksonville State (16-8, 12-6 OVC) clinched fourth place in the OVC standings. The Gamecocks lost a chance to catch Eastern Kentucky when the Colonels upset Belmont, giving the Bruins their first OVC loss of the year. In the first-round of the OVC tournament Thursday in Evansville, Ind., JSU will play either Murray State or Austin Peay at 7 p.m.

—Adams made 9 of 15 from the field, including 7 of 9 from 3-point range. He sank all five of his foul shots. On top of that, he had five rebounds and three assists.

—Brandon Huffman had 15 points and seven rebounds. King had 13 points off the bench.

Who said

—Harper on Kayne Henry's night of 15 points and seven rebounds: "Oh, boy, he looked like Kayne Henry tonight. He got some offensive rebounds, some putbacks. He was really active. He was really good."

Next up

—JSU will host Austin Peay on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the regular-season finale.

Senior Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.