By Mitch Fink
For the first time in 25 years, Boston University men’s basketball (3-2, 0-0 PL) will return home from an early-season tournament with a trophy in hand.
A banged-up BU squad rolled to a 72-59 victory over Sam Houston State (2-3, 0-0 WAC) in the championship game of the JAX Bracket of the Jacksonville Classic on Monday afternoon behind red-hot shooting from long-range.
An ankle sprain kept senior forward Walter Whyte sidelined for the contest, and his replacement, junior Nevin Zink, suffered an ankle injury of his own in the second half of Monday’s game and was ruled out for the remainder of play.
But BU’s bench unit stepped up to fill the absence of Whyte and Zink, and the Terriers managed to fend off a series of Sam Houston State runs to capture the win in the first-ever matchup between the two teams.
The Terriers started the game with guns blazing, jumping out to a 9-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game.
The early advantage allowed BU to play with a lead for the entire game, although the Bearkats came close to tying the contest at multiple points.
Sam Houston State cut the Terriers’ lead to just four points shortly after Zink’s injury seven minutes into the second half and threatened to take a lead with a depleted BU frontcourt on the floor.
But as they did all game long, the Terriers fought back to retain their lead.
A flurry of three-pointers from veteran guards Javante McCoy and Jonas Harper allowed BU to re-establish and maintain a comfortable lead, which the Terriers held the rest of the way.
BU knocked down 12 threes while shooting 60% from beyond the arc, which marked BU’s best three-point shooting performance of the season and a significant improvement from past games where the Terriers have struggled to hit shots from deep.
McCoy led BU in scoring with 14 points, center Sukhmail Mathon added nine points and 11 rebounds and sophomore guard Miles Brewster scored a career-high eight points off the bench in his season debut.
The Terriers also excelled in defending the three-point line against a Sam Houston State team that ranks 16th in the nation in three-pointers attempted per game and 42nd in three-pointers made per game with 10.
BU held the Bearkats to 26 percent from long-range on 23 attempts and conceded less than 60 points to its opponent for the second consecutive game.
The Terriers will stay in the Sunshine State for a matchup with Florida State in Tallahassee on Wednesday night when they will look to take down an ACC opponent for the first time since 2013.