JACKSONVILLE — After a brief media session following Jacksonville State’s 82-65 win over Tennessee Tech, Jason Burnell climbed into the stands to talk with family and friends.
Someone jokingly started chanting “overrated” as Burnell walked toward them. But the first-year Gamecock was anything but against the Golden Eagles.
The DeLand, Fla., native set a career high with 22 points. He hit 9 of 15 from the field with a 3-pointer and made all three free throws. The 6-foot-7 forward also brought down a career-high 12 rebounds in 33 minutes.
It’s the second straight double-double for Burnell after he posted 12 points and 10 rebounds at Southern-Illinois Edwardsville last weekend.
“I started off real slow,” Burnell said. “(Tennessee Tech) went on a 10-0 run and I gave up two 3s, and I felt like Coach (Ray) Harper challenged me and I had to come back in the game and give us a little energy and get us going a little bit. I felt like I let me team down those first four minutes, so I felt like I had to come back strong.”
Not only did Burnell bounce back strong after falling behind against Tennessee Tech (16-10, 8-5), but the entire Jacksonville State team did as well.
At one point, the Gamecocks (18-8, 9-4) were down 20-11 during the first half. But went on a 21-3 run to take a 32-23 lead. By halftime, the JSU run stood at 29-7 as the Gamecocks led 40-27 at the break.
“I thought we defended,” Harper said. “We were getting stops and sharing the ball and making the extra pass. The biggest thing, though, was that we were getting defensive stops.
“If you’re going to get down like we did, you’re going to have to get some stops.”
Besides Burnell, Marlon Hunter benefited from the JSU scoring run before ending the night with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 4 of 4 from the free throw line. Jamall Gregory, who was held scoreless in three minutes during the first half, finished with 12 points, four assists and three rebounds.
Malcolm Drumwright, who tied the Jacksonville State Division I record for most starts as a Gamecock with 94, had eight points, five assists and four points. The senior guard now sits 38 points away from tying Darion Rackley (1,341) with the second-most points in JSU’s Division I history.
For Tennessee Tech, Curtis Phillips finished with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting, including five 3-point baskets, and six rebounds. Courtney Alexander, despite scoring only three points, brought down a team-high 12 rebounds. Mason Ramsey (14) and Shaw Calhoun (13) both finished in double figures for the Golden Eagles.