CHARLESTON, Ill. — The Jacksonville State men's basketball team used a second-half surge to earn a 75-56 runaway win at Eastern Illinois on Thursday.
The Gamecocks improved to 17-7, including 8-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference. That's good for third place, trailing Belmont (10-1) and Murray state (9-2). EIU dropped to 7-15, 3-8.
JSU junior Christian Cunningham tallied his second double-double in as many games with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while fellow junior Jason Burnell scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the second half.
Cunningham's double-double was his seventh of the season and 14th of his career — both team-bests among active Gamecocks.
Jacksonville State outscored EIU 44-27 after intermission and scored the second half's first 11 points. JSU led by three at the halftime, but six straight points from Cunningham to begin the period helped push the Gamecocks' lead to eight.
The JSU defense limited the Panthers to 19-for-51 overall, a 37.3 shooting percentage, while the Gamecocks shot 50.8 percent for the game. Jacksonville State, led by Cunningham's 10 boards, outrebounded Eastern Illinois 37-30, while the Gamecocks’ defense forced 14 turnovers.
Despite scoring the game's first four points, the Gamecocks hit a scoring drought and saw the Panthers go on a 12-0 run over three minutes. JSU trailed by as much as 10 at the 11:40 mark, down 18-8 nearly halfway through the first half, but the tides began turning just one minute later.
Following EIU's 12-point run, the JSU defense tightened up and allowed just four field goals for the remainder of the half. From the 10:51 mark until the end of the half, Jacksonville State outscored the Panthers 21-11.
During the Gamecocks' near 11-minute, 21-11 run, Burnell totaled a team-best six points and Malcolm Drumwright tallied five. JSU was 8-for-13 during the stretch, while the defense came away with two steals and forced five EIU turnovers, helping Jacksonville State to a 31-29 advantage at the half.
The Gamecocks wrap up their road trip with a 1 p.m. matchup with Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday.